A gentrification protest that has blockaded several city blocks in Portland, Oregon entered its third day Thursday as people dressed in black and wearing ski masks continued to build makeshift barriers.
The street behind the blockade in the neighborhood of homes, coffee shops and restaurants was laced with booby traps aimed at keeping officers out — including homemade spike strips, piles of rocks and thick bands of plastic wrap stretched at neck-height across the roadway.
It recalled more than four months of confrontations between police and protesters decrying racial injustice and police brutality that only abated weeks ago. Mayor Ted Wheeler said the city would not tolerate an “autonomous zone,” a reference to a weeks-long protest in Seattle where people essentially took over a several-block area in the city during racial injustice protests.
Supporters of the Kinney family, the Black and Indigenous family that faced foreclosure, say the home was unjustly taken through predatory lending practices that target people of color. The property sold at auction for $260,000, the family said, while the private land next door is valued at more than $10 million.
It’s in a historically Black part of Portland that for decades was one of the few areas Black residents could own homes because of racist real estate and zoning laws. The home was one of the few remaining Black-owned residences in an area that has rapidly gentrified in the past 20 years.
The occupation of the property began in September after a judge rejected the family’s request for an emergency stay. But it gained steam and national attention Tuesday when officers responding to the new owner’s complaints conducted a dawn sweep and arrested about a dozen people.
Police say between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, there have been 81 calls to the property for fights, gunshots, burglary, vandalism and noise complaints, among other things.
Surrounding homeowners also complained that the sidewalks were blocked and they could not get to their homes, police said.
The 124-year-old house is known as the Red House on Mississippi and was one of the few remaining Black-owned homes on North Mississippi Avenue.
Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus