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Last week, Portland law enforcers raided a house that had for months been illegally occupied by trespassers affiliated with Black Lives Matter and Antifa. At the barricaded property, officers made arrests and found a stockpile of firearms.
Under normal circumstances, the armed trespassers would be prosecuted, and that would be the end of the story. But in riot-plagued Portland, things are very far from normal.
The city’s “progressive” district attorney immediately dropped the charges against the occupiers, and their comrades soon sent in reinforcements to build a sprawling autonomous zone in the middle of a densely populated residential area.
The militants called the place the Red House Autonomous Zone — named after the red-colored house occupied at the heart of the zone. In doing so, they took inspiration from Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. During the summer, leftist extremists chased police out of a six-block area of the Emerald City and drew their own “borders,” complete with checkpoints manned by armed “security.” The three-week experiment in lawlessness ended in mass vandalism, attempted rape, multiple shootings and two homicides.
Portland’s RHAZ is following in the same footsteps.
The house at the center of the autonomous zone was occupied by members of the Kinney family and their allies. The Kinneys, who haven’t paid their mortgage since 2017, were evicted after a tortuous legal process. The fact that they own a second house nearby didn’t prevent the mixed-race Kinneys and their allies from claiming victimization by — you guessed it — “racism.”
Soon after last week’s raid on the occupied house, some 100 Antifa comrades mobilized through social media to retake the space. “There is an active call for numbers, defensive gear and supplies and change of clothes,” tweeted Antifa group Youth Liberation Front.
Within a few hours, the entire street was blocked off with stolen fencing, wood and junk taken from nearby homes. Some brought in power tools to reinforce the barriers. The militants laid out piles of rocks, metal spikes and glass bottles at strategic points to act as supply points for projectile weapons. They lined the road with impromptu “booby traps” — upward-facing nail strips, caltrops and more.
Portland police officers tried to shut down the RHAZ early on, but they were attacked and chased away. Their police cruisers were smashed up; they didn’t return.
“Those present at the barricades should leave it behind, put down your weapons and allow the neighborhood to return to peace and order,” Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell asked the militants, who ignored his polite request.
To protect their autonomous zone, the militants had their own team of roving “security,” like at CHAZ. They openly carried rifles and pistols. Neighborhood families felt terrorized; some have left.
RHAZ widened its territorial expanse by the day. The militants added additional barricades further out from the red house to act as a buffer. Graffiti marked their new land: “Hang your landlord.” “Landlords get the wall.” “Kill a cop.”
The slogan “Free Gage” also plastered the zone. Antifa militant Gage Halupowski was convicted and imprisoned last year over the unprovoked beating of a Portland man during an Antifa riot downtown. Halupowski struck Adam Kelly on the head with a baton, busting open his head.
And while many media outlets served as apologists for Antifa during the long months of rioting, reporters didn’t find refuge in RHAZ. A local news crew was surrounded and assaulted for walking in. The female reporter at the scene was treated at hospital for a bloody hand injury. “Kill press,” Antifa wrote in several locations to warn other outlets after that. They also wrote my name and an address on a large wall.
After six days of violent anarchy, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced at a news conference that an “agreement” had been reached, though he didn’t spill the details. By Tuesday, some of the barricades had come down, allowing vehicular traffic through for the first time in a week.
The Kinneys, however, denied that an agreement had been reached. They said they will continue to occupy the property, even though a viral GoFundMe campaign for the family has already raised more than $308,000 — far more than what it would cost to buy the red house (and remember, they own a house nearby, as well).
The City of Portland, meanwhile, has set a perilous new precedent: It will not only negotiate with extremists, it will accommodate their bizarre demands.
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