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Portland protesters fighting gentrification barricade streets, set booby traps for police
Another Portland protest movement has taken over a portion of the city — this time demonstrating against gentrification by barricading several streets and setting booby traps for the police.
The demonstrators, dressed in black and wearing ski masks, erected the street blockades with metal, wood and wire fencing, and stood guard Wednesday behind their perimeter.
Inside their zone, the protesters laid out homemade spike strips and stretched thick bands of plastic wrap across the street to deter police.
The show of force was triggered by the arrest of a dozen protesters outside the former home of the Kinneys, a black and Indigenous family who were evicted during the pandemic.
The new occupancy comes on the heels of months-long Black Lives Matter protests that rocked Portland, where groups set up an “Autonomous Zone” in a city park and frequently clashed with police.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell on Wednesday urged these new protesters to back down.
“Those at the barricade should put down their weapons, leave it behind and allow the neighborhood to return to peace and order,” Lovell said in a Twitter video.
“Portland police will enforce the law and use force if necessary to restore order.”
The Kinneys’ former home was purchased by Urban Housing Development LLC at a foreclosure auction in 2018 — but the family kept living there, according to court papers.
The developer sued in 2019 and the Kinneys countersued, arguing that illegal and predatory bank tactics cost them their home.
The family later filed a motion for an emergency stay that allowed them to stay in the house during the pandemic.
But in September, a judge rejected the motion — prompting protesters to camp at the property in a bid “to reclaim” it for the Kinneys, Oregon Live reported.
The occupation avoided the national spotlight until Tuesday’s arrest, which came after the new owner called police on the protesters.
Protesters have argued the Kinneys should be protected by Oregon’s pandemic-inspired eviction moratorium — though the Kinneys were facing eviction before the pandemic, not because of financial strains caused by it.
The neighborhood being targeted by protesters has experienced rapid gentrification in the past 20 years — with the usual emergence of new coffee and bicycle shops, bars and condominium complexes.
With Post wires