Democratic mayor gives green light to police assault on protesters opposing the family’s eviction in Portland, Oregon
Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler on Tuesday authorized local police to break up an anti-occupation protest outside a house called “Red House on Mississippi” in Portland, Oregon, where hundreds worked to prevent the eviction of the Kinney family since a court ruling was handed down in September.
“I authorize the Portland Police to use all legal means to end the illegal occupation of North Mississippi Avenue and to hold accountable those who violate the laws of our community,” Wheeler tweeted Tuesday, adding, with reference at the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone protest in Seattle this summer. , “There won’t be a stand-alone zone in Portland.”
The announcement came after a full day of clashes between police and protesters, who resisted attempts by the technical owner of the house, Urban Housing Development Ltd., to place a fence around the property and cover the windows and windows. doors. These efforts were supported by both the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. Police allege protesters threw stones and paint-filled balloons at officers and police vehicles.
After police and owners left the scene, protesters demolished the fence, re-entered the house, and built barricades to form an occupation zone in which up to 200 people gathered to defend the family. . Police returned but were eventually forced to leave after protesters chased them away by spraying fire extinguishers and throwing stones, smashing a police car window. Police fired “less lethal” impact munitions and arrested at least seven protesters outside the house.
The events of Portland and the experience of the Kinney family give a hint of a much larger struggle that unfolds as millions of working class tenants and landlords face eviction or foreclosure in homes. months to come, in the form of moratoriums on evictions, rent assistance and unemployment. benefits expire this month. A recent analysis found that 12 million renters in the United States owe an average of $ 5,850 in rent and utilities.
Originally built in 1896, the Red House has been in the Kinney family for 65 years since William and Pauline Kinney moved to Portland from Little Rock, Arkansas in a wave of African-American migration to escape the racial oppression of the South and find better industrial jobs. The couple bought their home with cash in 1955 after experiencing racial discrimination in the mortgage industry due to the practice known as “redlining,” which identified black people as high-risk borrowers. and limited where they could buy houses.
This experience was very common at the time, making North Portland and the Mississippi Avenue neighborhood a largely black working-class neighborhood for decades. In recent years, private development and investment companies have fueled the gentrification of the neighborhood and forced thousands of residents out of their homes as housing costs have risen dramatically.
William Kinney, Jr. and his wife Julie Metcalf Kinney took over his parents’ house in 1983. Over the past two decades, the Kinney family has been forced into financial ruin, leading to foreclosure. Their son, William Kinney III, was jailed in 2002 due to a car accident, sparking years of legal battles that led the family to take out a loan against their home. Already struggling to make payments, their loan was transferred between a series of banks, Clear Recon Corporation finally declared foreclosure in May 2018.
Since the Kinney family’s eviction process began in 2018, when their house was auctioned off to a private real estate development company as “non-judicial foreclosure” in October of that year, courts have ruled that federal and municipal emergency moratoria on evictions did not apply. to the family.
Based on the Mississippi Red House website, after Multnomah County Judge Judith Matazarro cleared the eviction process in September and said the defendants were illegally occupying the premises, “Multnomah County Sheriffs smashed down the Kinney family door under threat of a weapon. Armed with assault rifles, they barked orders for the family to pack their bags and move out within 30 minutes. The Kinneys did not receive any prior legal advice as their case was still pending in a higher court. “
Protests against the occupation have continued since September, mainly with a handful of people camping out in the front yard and mobilizing protesters whenever police arrived. The family is still fighting a costly legal battle to reclaim their home during the occupation, relying on a GoFundMe page. Another court order that gave the sheriff 30 days to deport the family was due to expire on October 27, but was extended for another 120 days on October 22.
Mayor Wheeler’s attempt to describe the protest as violent and illegal action, requiring police crackdown, is meant to signal that there will be no tolerance for any opposition to the wave of upcoming evictions in Portland and across the United States, ensuring the Kinney family and countless others will be left homeless amid a raging pandemic.