Autonomous zone or automatic weapon zone? That’s the question Portland, Oregon, officials are asking about the Portland city space that now features fortified barricades, stockpiled weapons and armed guards posted at the entrances.
In a Dec. 9 statement, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said, “We are greatly concerned about the fortification of barricades, stockpiling of weapons, armed sentries, attacks on journalists, and threats to kill officers in graffiti in this public space. Our goal is for this to resolve peacefully to increase safety for all involved.”
Lovell also called on the individuals involved in the occupation of the public space to reach out to his officers to “discuss a peaceful outcome.”
Months ago, a group of activists took over a home, dubbed “Red House on Mississippi” due to its location on Mississippi Avenue, in response to the eviction of a Black and Indigenous family. Police have received more than 80 calls about the residence since September, with reports of fights, shots fired, burglary, theft, vandalism, noise violations and trespassing listed among the numerous issues.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has let this “autonomous zone” go on for months, but he appears finally to be ready to take action. Wheeler sent out a statement Tuesday evening saying he was authorizing Portland police “to use all lawful means to end the illegal occupation …. There will be no autonomous zone in Portland.
“It’s time for the encampment and occupation to end,” Wheeler said. “There are many ways to protest and work toward needed reform. Illegally occupying private property, openly carrying weapons, threatening and intimidating people are not among them.”
After months of almost nightly protests and riots in Portland, it sounds like their mayor has finally had enough. Residents are probably wondering why it took so long.