Last week I wrote about the creation of a new autonomous zone in Portland. Antifa pushed police out and then set up spike strips and stockpiled weapons to prevent them from returning to enforce an eviction. The Red House was sold in an auction back in 2018. An eviction was authorized earlier this year but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Initially, Mayor Ted Wheeler issued a series of tweets saying he was “authorizing the Portland Police to use all lawful means to end the illegal occupation.” It was tough talk but if you know anything about Ted Wheeler, you already know it wasn’t going to last. Sure enough, instead of pushing the occupiers and anti-police agitators out, the mayor apologized to them for his mean tweets:
In the letter, Wheeler and Lovell said the family had been subjected to escalating threats after the posts, and that police had assigned a detective to investigate those threats.
“We apologize and understand that following our tweets earlier this week that your family received threats,” the letter said. “We did not intend to attract attention that results in threats of harm and violence to your family or that escalated tensions in our community. Nobody should be subjected to this kind of stress and harm, and we apologize for the role our tweets played in this.”
Meanwhile, the mayor’s office also worked behind the scenes to try to broker a deal between the home’s current owner, who says he is afraid for the safety of his family, and the Kinney family who’ve been living there illegally for the past 2 years.
Roman Ozeruga, 33, bought the house on North Mississippi Avenue through a foreclosure sale in 2018 for $260,000 and has offered to sell it back to the Kinney family, which had owned the house since the 1950s…
Wheeler has said that he hopes to negotiate a settlement to end the demonstrations at the site, which protesters have occupied since the summer in an attempt to block efforts to remove the family.
Ozeruga said he fears for his family’s well-being.
“I myself am a father of little kids,” he said. “I don’t have a publicity team or even a lawyer for this. I’m concerned for safety to be honest.”
The Kinney family stopped paying their mortgage for 18 months and have apparently revealed they are sovereign citizens, a fringe belief that in this case means they don’t have to pay rent to keep living in the house they mortgaged. A GoFundMe campaign set up to benefit the family has now raised over $300,000 so they should be able to buy the house back but haven’t agreed to do so thus far. I won’t be surprised if they try to work out a better deal given the leverage they have.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Friday that the Kinney family, who were initially portrayed as destined to wind up in the street if they were evicted, already own another house about 2 miles away:
The second home — located in Northeast Portland less than 2 miles from the house where protesters are camping — has been owned by the family since 1966, according to property records. OPB visited the home Friday morning and confirmed the family is currently living there.
The Kinneys’ son, Michael, answered the door at the second home and confirmed the family owned it, but he declined to answer questions, saying OPB would need to schedule an interview.
Despite the fact that they own this other home, forcing the legal owner of the Red House to sell it back to them out of fear for his family’s safety was considered a big win by Antifa.
This is a victory! Fucking celebrate it!
And let’s make sure we keep that victory, and don’t let the City and developer back out of any negations or agreement they make. ? https://t.co/sSXt4r3Z10
— PNW Youth Liberation Front (@PNWYLF) December 13, 2020
It was also a win for Mayor Wheeler who got the occupiers to agree to take down the blockade so long as he promised not to send in the police:
Nearly all barricades blocking a stretch of North Mississippi Avenue were dismantled Sunday after a Black and Indigenous family struck a tentative deal with city officials related to their drive to buy back the house they lost to foreclosure.
Portland police had agreed not to force the family to leave the “Red House on Mississippi” while negotiations were ongoing — as long as the street was cleared by Monday night.
But even Mayor Wheeler, who generally seems immune to shame, seemed upset by the fact that Antifa was celebrating this win. Wheeler was so upset he made another idle threat promising things might turn out different…next time.
During his press conference, the mayor bristled at reports of some demonstrators publicly claiming the multi-day occupation led to a decisive victory for them as well as the Kinney family.
“It is really, frankly, disgusting when I hear people describe this as quote ‘a win’ unquote,” he said. “We’re talking about people’s lives. And we are talking about safety. And if you think that negotiating at the head of a gun is a win, you need to reevaluate.”…
“I hope it is not an ongoing phenomenon,” the mayor said. “Our objective is to protect lives and end the occupation. And nobody should take this as an invitation to do it anywhere else. The end result could turn out very differently.”
Antifa ran Wheeler out of his own home. Now they’ve run the police out of the area for performing a legal foreclosure. If Wheeler really thinks they are going to back down after this string of wins, he’s dumber than he looks. Antifa will rightly assume that if they push hard enough the mayor will backtrack and apologize on whatever tough talk he initially offers in their next conflict. That’s what he does.
Finally, here’s Jason Rantz talking about the Kinney family’s sovereign citizen beliefs on Tucker:
So it turns out the family behind the #RedHouse Autonomous Zone… might consider themselves sovereign citizens. I suppose it makes sense they’re in an autonomous zone. This isn’t about gentrification. It’s about crazies. My latest report for #TuckerCarlson. pic.twitter.com/hqpWi6OAaj
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) December 11, 2020