The initial response to police showing up at the “Red House on Mississippi” was frantic and ad hoc, but a day later occupiers appeared determined to hold any incursions at bay.
By Wednesday, they had stockpiled homemade shields and other defensive gear, piled up rocks and bricks and laid down homemade spike strips to puncture the tires of any vehicles that could breach the barricades.
A group of social justice activists have fortified their position at the small red house on North Mississippi Avenue after camping on the property in recent months to support the Kinneys, a Black and Indigenous family who had lived there for decades but lost their home to foreclosure.
The activists had scrambled Tuesday morning to respond to Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies and Portland police officers who arrived to “re-secure” the home for the new owner, a developer that plans to demolish it.
“We heard people banging (on doors) outside asking for neighbors to come out and support the cause,” said William Travis, who has lived in the neighborhood for 50 years.
Police, hoping to avoid further inflaming the situation, left the scene quickly after intense clashes with protesters, and that gave activists the opportunity to take over the house and surrounding area.
Then, said Brad Ness, another longtime neighborhood resident, carloads of protesters arrived, piled onto the street and strapped on body armor and knee pads.
Ness said that, over the hours that followed, he watched as truckloads of wood, car tires, fencing and other materials were unloaded for the fortifications that now block off the street around the red house.
This was after more than three months of complaints associated with the red house and the surrounding area. From September through November, police said they received more than 80 calls about the property, including reports on fights, shots fired, burglary, theft, vandalism, noise, trespassing, threats by people with guns and blocked traffic, sidewalks and access to homes.
Now the occupiers’ blockade stretches at least two-and-a-half blocks, from North Skidmore to Blandena streets, along North Mississippi and Albina avenues, with groups of black-clad guards posted at each intersection.
Mayor Ted Wheeler has said he will not allow the protesters to establish an “autonomous zone,” like the one activists built in Seattle last summer. He said he has authorized the police to “use all lawful means to end the illegal occupation” in the gentrifying North Portland neighborhood.
So far, police have stayed away. Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell issued a videotaped message Wednesday morning to those engaged in the barricaded zone: “Leave it behind. Put down your weapons and allow the community to return to order,” he said.
Lovell tweeted another statement in the afternoon, saying Portland police “share the community’s concerns about the barricades, occupation and…
Go to the news source: Portland’s red house occupation launched spontaneously, but protesters barricade…