Family and developer reach tentative deal to end N. Mississippi standoff

By Jonathan Levinson (OPB)
Dec. 13, 2020 10:21 p.m. Updated: Dec. 13, 2020 11:39 p.m.

The Portland family at the center of a months-long protest and occupation intended to block an eviction has reached a tentative deal with the city. In exchange for the barricades on North Mississippi Avenue coming down, the developer and city of Portland have promised not to enforce an eviction order while the family and developer are negotiating a resolution in good faith. Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office helped negotiate the deal.


“I maintain measured optimism that we can accomplish this step and move toward the next steps to advance the safety and well-being of the family and the safety of the neighborhood,” Wheeler said in a statement Sunday.

As of Sunday afternoon the barricades had come down but caution tape and cones continued to block the road as protesters took to cleaning up the area. People were coming with trucks to help haul away wood and material used in the blockade.

The protest began in September when years of lawsuits challenging the foreclosure culminated with a Multnomah County judge issuing an eviction order for the Kinney family’s home on North Mississippi. The home has been in the family since 1955 and is located in one of the only Portland neighborhoods where Black people were allowed to own property for much of the 20th century.

After years of aggressive gentrification, the Kinney family is one of the few remaining Black families in the neighborhood since before the 2008 financial crisis.

Protesters occupy a section of North Mississippi Avenue to protect a Black and Indigenous family facing eviction on Dec. 11, 2020 in Portland, Oregon.

Protesters occupy a section of North Mississippi Avenue to protect a Black and Indigenous family facing eviction on Dec. 11, 2020 in Portland, Oregon.

Jonathan Levinson / OPB


The occupation boiled over last week when Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies, with help from the Portland Police Bureau, arrived at the home to enforce the eviction order. Officers arrested more than a dozen people before a swarm of protesters forced outnumbered officers to retreat. In anticipation of their return, protesters set up barricades at the surrounding intersections and had kept them in place until they started to come down Sunday.

Roman Ozeruga, the developer who bought the family home in a foreclosure auction, has expressed a willingness to sell the home back to the Kinney family, according to intermediaries involved in the negotiations. Some reports from people familiar with the negotiations have said he is willing to return the home for the price he paid plus taxes, while others have said the price hasn’t been negotiated yet.

The Kinney family didn’t immediately respond to questions about the deal and what they hope will come out of negotiations with Ozeruga.

The mayor’s office said there are still a lot of challenges to overcome and that the situation hasn’t been fully resolved.

Rep. Tawna Sanchez, who represents North and Northeast Portland in the Oregon Legislature and who has known the Kinney family for years, said throughout the Red House protest, her goal has been to help everyone see the problem from different sides.

“What needed to happen was that everybody needs to come to a place of mutual respect and concern,” Sanchez said.

She said it’s regrettable the situation ever came to this point and that between the pandemic, racial justice protests and wildfires, there is a more urgent need than ever for all of the systems that played a part to do more to ensure things like this don’t happen again.

“At the state, we need to figure why the guard rails didn’t work and what else needs to be in place to keep this from happening.”

This story will be updated


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