By: Amy Jo Underwood
Antifa and BLM members established yet another autonomous zone, this time in Portland. After months of protesting, and increasing violence, the mayor of Portland struck a deal with those involved. The situation in Portland follows the CHAZ occupation in Seattle earlier this year which resulted in violent anarchy, weeks of civil unrest, and serious damage to private property. Despite the clear failure of CHAZ (which resulted in deaths, rape, and violent clashes between occupants and law enforcement), Portland leadership chose to allow a similar takeover in their city.
In September, protests began in Portland over a house owned by a family who were in default. According to Newsweek, the family had another home, worth over half a million, the entire time. The protests escalated in early December, when the groups established RHAZ: the Red House Autonomous Zone. According to the New York Post, the area was barricaded and surrounded with anti-capitalist and anti-police signs. The Antifa and BLM groups claimed that the eviction was a racist, capitalist scheme. Newsweek writes that over 81 calls were placed with the police department for help with “fights, disturbances, shots fired, burglary, thefts, vandalism, noise violations, trespassing, threats (including by armed individuals), and for illegally blocking traffic, sidewalks and access to homes.”
After violence in the Portland autonomous zone escalated in mid-December, Mayor Ted Wheeler announced that a deal had been struck between the city, the property owner, and the family. According to the New York Post, the barricades were taken down shortly after, and police finally entered the scene. They found stockpiled weapons, as well as traps set with intent to injure police officers.
While activists celebrate the RHAZ occupation and negotiation as a win, others view the city’s actions as compromising and succumbing to pressure from violent anarchists. The recent autonomous zone in Portland follows other attempts in major cities over the summer, most notably, CHAZ in Seattle. Each attempt at establishing a police-free, autonomous zone has resulted in violence from within, and destruction.
“This isn’t like what we’ve seen before. It’s a negotiation and a win, and that’s something we’re just not used to.” - Mac Smiff, BLM Activist
Amy Jo Underwood writes from Alabama