Portland Mayor Authorizes Police to Use Lawful Means to End New Autonomous Zone

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
December 9, 2020US News
Portland Mayor Authorizes Police to Use Lawful Means to End New Autonomous Zone
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler speaks to the media at City Hall in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 30, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Protesters in Portland, Oregon have set up a new autonomous zone around a family’s private property by surrounding the house with government-owned fences and barricades as they rallied against the family’s eviction, officials said.

Mayor Ted Wheeler said on Tuesday that it was “time for the encampment and occupation to end,” adding that the people rallying there are “illegally occupying private property.”

About 100 people gathered around the house that is located on Mississippi Avenue in the north side of the city, officials said.

“Over the past three months, people have been illegally trespassing on properties on Mississippi Avenue, including in a house and on privately owned lots,” Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officials said in a statement.

The mayor has now given police the authority to end any illegal occupation around the house, adding that everyone who continues to violate community laws will be held accountable.

“There will be no autonomous zone in Portland,” said Wheeler, who is also Portland’s police commissioner.

“There are many ways to protest,” he continued. “Illegally occupying private property, openly carrying weapons, threatening, and intimidating people are not among them.”

People have been rallying around the home of the Kinney family, who lost the house they owned for 65 years after it was sold on an auction for $97,000 as a nonjudicial foreclosure in October 2018, and they were denied their right to buy it back, according to a fundraiser set up in support of the family.

In 2002, they experienced what the family describes as an “attack on their family,” when their 17-year-old son was taken to prison following an automobile accident, leaving them with no other choice but to take out a loan against their home for paying the costly legal fees, the page reads.

However, despite these efforts, their son was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In 2004, this trouble intensified even further after they refinanced a second mortgage that had an increasing interest rate, eventually leading to the auction of the house and them being removed from their home by authorities following several lawsuits.

Tuesday’s demonstration became heated after law enforcement officers arrived at the perimeter to dismantle it and allow nearby residents to be able to come and go in a normal flow of traffic, PPB officials said in another release.

“People need to remove the barricades to allow the normal flow of traffic and for residents nearby to be allowed to come and go,” police said. “Continued criminal activity may result in arrests including the potential use of force. People must move to the sidewalks.”

As authorities worked toward the removal of the perimeter, they gave announcements via a loudspeaker to remind demonstrators not to interfere with the placing of fencing around private property and to stay away.

After police left the area at around 10 a.m., almost immediately protesters “removed a portion of the fence and entered the private property,” officials said.

“Police returned and attempted to disperse people from the property, however people began throwing objects at police vehicles and officers, broke police vehicle windows, and flattened tires on two police vehicles,” the release said.

NTD Photo
The rear window of a Portland Police Department patrol vehicle that was damaged during unrest on North Mississippi Avenue in Portland on Dec. 8, 2020. (Courtesy of Portland Police Bureau)

“Officers disengaged and people entered the private property again. A crowd of people eventually used fencing and other materials to block North Mississippi Avenue and began stockpiling rocks,” police said.

At least 13 people were taken into custody with most of them facing trespassing and disorderly conduct charges. At least two people were also charged with resisting arrest and interfering with a peace officer.

Over the three-month period that protesters have held rallies at the properties on Mississippi Avenue, about 81 calls for services were made that included vandalism, fights, shots, burglary, theft, and blocking traffic, among other disorderly conduct, police said.

Authorities said they will now remain out of the area and monitor the situation.

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