The Portland police chief said he was”greatly concerned” about an area occupied by a group of activists camped outside a home dubbed “Red House on Mississippi” on North Mississippi Avenue, in an attempt to block the eviction of a Black and Indigenous family, Fox News reported.
According to the police chief, the militant group have stockpiled weapons, assigned armed guards and spray-painted threats to kill police officers.
“We want a peaceful & safe resolution to the occupation of public space on N Mississippi Ave,” Chief Chuck Lovell said on Twitter Wednesday. “We are greatly concerned about the fortification of barricades, stockpiling of weapons, armed sentries, attacks on journalists & threats to kill officers in graffiti in this public space.”
Lovell said residents neighboring the property are “suffering” and have been boarding up their homes and erecting fencing around their own properties amid concerns about “threatening behavior and intimidation they’ve experienced” over the past three months.
The occupation continued early Wednesday and individuals remained overnight setting up additional barricades and fortifications. Police were not at the scene overnight, but the bureau tweeted Wednesday that demonstration liaison officers were available to communicate with those at the house.
As law enforcement officers stood on the perimeter of the barricade, people threw rocks at them and paint-filled balloons, according to an earlier police statement.
Activists refuted the mayor’s claim that they formed an autonomous zone, and instead told a reporter for the Portland Tribune that they formed an “eviction blockade.”
Activists have been rallying around the house of the Kinney family, who lost the house they owned for 65 years after it was sold on an auction as a nonjudicial foreclosure in October 2018, and they were denied their right to buy it back, according to a fundraiser page. They paid off their mortgage but took out another loan against the house to cover legal fees when one family member was arrested in 2002.
According to the group, demonstrators have maintained “an around-the-clock community presence along with onsite camping, a fully functional kitchen offering two free hot meals a day, and free programming centered in healing and abolition.”