Wheeler: Streets and sidewalks near 'Red House' will reopen
Mayor Ted Wheeler said he reached an agreement Saturday night, Dec. 12, with the Black and Indigenous family who has been fighting to keep their foreclosed North Portland home. He said the streets and sidewalks near the home will be reopened.
Details of the agreement have not been announced. The property owner has reportedly said he is willing to sell the house for its purchase price of $260,000 and $20,000 in taxes he paid on it. The family has reportedly raised more than that through an online GoFundMe drive.
Demonstrators started forming barricades around what they call the "Red House on Mississippi" Tuesday, Dec. 8. They've since been occupying the area, trying to prevent the family's eviction. Witnesses told KOIN 6 News that people inside the area were armed with guns.
In a statement on Sunday, Dec. 13, Wheeler said, "My goal remains finding a peaceful resolution to the situation on North Mississippi Avenue. My focus has been on protecting lives."
Wheeler said he feels the agreement to reopen the streets and sidewalks is an important step toward de-escalation and a long-term resolution for the neighborhood and the family who wants to keep their home, the Kinney family.
"I maintain measured optimism that we can accomplish this step and move toward the next steps to advance the safety and well-being of the family and the safety of the neighborhood," Wheeler said.
Wheeler thanked neighbors in the North Mississippi area for their patience and understanding while the mayor works to resolve "a very dangerous situation."
The confrontation started on Tuesday when Multnomah County Sheriff's Office deputies and Portland Police Bureau officers arrived at the home. They were serving a writ of execution to evict the family but were met with demonstrators opposing the eviction. Several firearms were discovered on the property and six people were found in the home. All six were arrested and charged with trespassing in the first degree, without incident.
Multnomah County Circuit Court documents reveal that a civil complaint was filed with the court on Nov. 19, 2018, for an eviction due to a nonjudicial foreclosure on the home.
The current state and federal eviction moratoriums in place during the coronavirus pandemic do not apply to nonjudicial foreclosure cases, such as this, according to the Oregon Judicial Department.
In 2018, the family's son, who goes by William X. Nietzsche, filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to block the eviction of their home on the 4400 block of North Mississippi Avenue, which was denied by a judge.
In a dismissal, the judge wrote Nietzsche, who is not a lawyer, filed suit against entities that do not exist, such as the "United States Corporation Company," and that they "requested irrelevant, nonsensical and sometimes offensive information" from the financial institutions.
After the forced sale two years ago, the judge said the family tried to transfer the property to their son, who then served a quit claim deed on various state officials, including the governor and the archdiocese of Portland — and sent a copy to an agency in Sweden.
The sheriff's office said it worked with local service providers to get resources available, such as shelters, bus passes, food, water, clothing, blankets and hand warmers prior to the Dec. 8 eviction. After they secured the property, it was turned over to the property owner, who then hired contractors to remove items from the home and clear the property.
However, a large number of people returned to the property shortly after law enforcement left the area, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said. They set up an encampment in the neighborhood by barricading streets using fencing, wood boards, pallets and personal items from neighbors' homes.
Reese said law enforcement and community members have seen individuals at the encampment heavily armed, establishing blockades, producing incendiary devices, constructing spike strips using barbed wire and stockpiling shields, sticks and rocks.
He said the current "armed occupation" is in a residential neighborhood and is putting a couple of dozen homes and businesses in the area in immediate danger.
On Friday, Dec. 11, KOIN 6 News learned that members of the Kinney family at the center of the "Red House" protest own a second home on the 2800 block of Northeast Eighth Avenue in Portland's Irvington neighborhood.
Here is Wheeler's complete statement:
"My goal remains finding a peaceful resolution to the situation on North Mississippi Avenue. My focus has been on protecting lives.
"An agreement in principle we reached late Saturday evening will result in the re-opening the streets and sidewalks in the area near the Red House on Mississippi. This agreement is an important step toward de-escalation and a long-term resolution for the neighborhood and the Kinney family.
"I maintain measured optimism that we can accomplish this step and move toward the next steps to advance the safety and well-being of the family and the safety of the neighborhood.
"I also want to acknowledge the neighbors and the challenges this situation created for them. Thank you for your patience and understanding while we took the time needed to try to resolve what is a very dangerous situation."
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story can be found here.
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