Oregon eviction protest fueled by history of gentrification

Full Screen
1 / 3

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Masked protesters by an occupied home speak with a neighborhood resident opposed to their encampment and demonstration in Portland, Ore., on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. Makeshift barricades erected by protesters are still up in Oregon's largest city a day after Portland police arrested about a dozen people in a clash over gentrification and the eviction of a family from a home. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Protesters barricaded streets in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood and set booby traps for police after officers arrested about a dozen people in a clash over gentrification and the eviction of a Black and Indigenous family from a home.

Several city blocks were still closed off Wednesday by blockades fabricated with wood, metal and wire fencing. Protesters dressed in black and wearing ski masks stood watch from atop a nearby wall.

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 clashes between police and protesters decrying racial injustice and police brutality that only abated weeks ago, and Mayor Ted Wheeler — whose handling of the unrest almost cost him reelection — said the city would not tolerate an “autonomous zone." The earlier protests angered President Donald Trump, who sent U.S. agents to protect a federal courthouse targeted by demonstrators.

“Those at the barricade should put down their weapons, leave it behind and allow the neighborhood to return to peace and order," Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said Wednesday in a Twitter video. “Portland police will enforce the law and use force if necessary to restore order.”

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.

Julie Metcalf Kinney, the family matriarch, said her father-in-law bought the house in 1955 and she gave birth to both her sons there. Nearly all the Black families that lived in the neighborhood are now gone after a push to extend the city's famed light-rail train north began in 1998, she said.

“My kids played ball here, they played hide-and-seek in the field," she said. “I warned the city ... that they were displacing family after family after family ... I let them know what they were doing to this community — and then all of a sudden all the tactics were turned on my family.”