Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on Tuesday said he has authorized police to use "all lawful means" in ending an illegal occupation at a home in the city.
At press time Wednesday Portland officers and Multnomah County Sheriff's deputies have not returned to the home after a Tuesday eviction attempt led to violence and multiple arrests.
At least 13 people were arrested as police used pepper spray after officers were pelted with rocks and paint-filled balloons, with squad cars also having windows smashed, police report.
After the arrests were made and law enforcement withdrew, at least 100 demonstrators gathered outside the home, known as the "red house," on Tuesday evening and proclaimed it the “Red House Autonomous Zone," according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
The protesters created makeshift barricades to prevent the ouster of a family who has owned the home for decades. The house had been reportedly paid off, but a second mortgage was taken out in 2002 to pay defense attorneys after a family member was arrested. The house went into foreclosure and was sold to a developer at a 2018 auction, Fox News reports.
After law enforcement withdrew, activists barricaded and fortified the property, including stockpiling projectiles for attacking officers.
Brad Ness, a longtime neighborhood resident told the Oregonian, carloads of protesters arrived, piled onto the street and strapped on body armor and knee pads.
Ness said that, over the hours that followed, he watched as truckloads of wood, car tires, fencing and other materials were unloaded for the fortifications that now block off the street around the red house.
Occupiers appear determined to hold the police at bay, stockpiling homemade shields and other defensive gear. They have piled up rocks and bricks, and they’ve laid down homemade spike strips to puncture the tires of any vehicles that breach the barricades.
Their blockade stretches two-and-a-half blocks, with groups of black-clad guards posted at each intersection.
Mayor Ted Wheeler has ordered police to end the autonomous zone.
"I am authorizing the Portland Police to use all lawful means to end the illegal occupation on North Mississippi Avenue and to hold those violating our community’s laws accountable," Wheeler wrote on Twitter Tuesday night.
Wheeler declared Tuesday night, "There will be no autonomous zone in Portland."
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell wrote a statement Wednesday morning, saying the police goal is for the situation to resolve peacefully and increase safety for all involved.
He also expressed concerns about the "fortification of barricades, stockpiling of weapons, armed sentries, attacks on journalists & threats to kill officers in graffiti in this public space," KATU reports.
In the previous three months, police had at least 81 calls to the property — including reports of noise violations, vandalism, burglary, fights and even shots fired, the New York Post reports.
Here’s a look at the occupied zone near “The Red House” in Portland this morning, now in place for about 24 hours.— Dan McCarthy (@DanMcKATU) December 9, 2020
The protester-made road block is at North Mississippi and Blandena.
We have not seen law enforcement in the area this morning #LiveOnK2 pic.twitter.com/C2vMdwAcLI