The co-founder of the Coalition to Save Portland, Gabe Johnson, went to the Red House Autonomous Zone on Thursday. His intent was to talk to people on the scene and have conversations with organizers. He didn’t encounter any city leaders attempting a similar effort, but he did find the go-between designated by the family to negotiate with the city.
Turns out, it’s Gary Floyd, the cousin of George Floyd. And he’s willing to negotiate.
It remains unclear how the local media and city leaders failed to discover this fact until now.
Johnson appeared on Fox and Friends this morning to talk about what he saw:
It’s really something out of a war zone. There’s a lot of weapons caches, people open carrying, a pretty large security force, keeping an eye on who’s coming and going. If you were to live in that zone, I would think it would be rather scary.
When you see people walking around with long arms in your city that have taken over and barricaded your street, I don’t think that’s very open and welcoming. It’s violent, and impedes on people’s livability. It shouldn’t be happening.
We should have taken a stand a long time ago, this summer, when we allowed lawlessness in our city. We allowed this condition.
Johnson said he spoke with Gary Floyd at the Red House, and impressed on him the need to clear the streets. Once the streets are cleared, the county sheriff and the courts can deal with the situation with the house, he said. Johnson tells PJ Media that Floyd and the family expressed interest in working towards such a solution.
The Coalition to Save Portland, co-founded by Johnson, released the following statement:
The group of Portland community leaders and concerned residents known as the Coalition to Save Portland released the following statement today in response to the events surrounding the violent action taking place at the Red House Autonomous Zone:
“I had heard frightening details of a mounting confrontation at this location and went to survey the situation for myself,” said Gabe Johnson, the director of the coalition. “I didn’t see any of our city leaders there. In just 10 minutes, I found myself talking to someone representing the family facing eviction and began brokering a dialogue to deescalate the situation and return this neighborhood to the peaceful citizens living there. I spoke with Gary Floyd, cousin of George Floyd who was eager for such a dialogue.”
“I have a good relationship with the Portland Police Bureau, so I immediately contacted Chief Lovell. We had an urgent dialogue, the goal of which is to clear the occupied zone so neighbors can return to a livable situation without the violence that no one wants,” Johnson said.
“What this situation requires is leadership,” added Johnson. “We’ve seen this movie before. Where are Jo Ann Hardesty and other community leaders? Time and time again, violence escalates unnecessarily as protests rage across Portland. City leaders have failed to uphold the law and keep order. We can solve our social problems without destroying people’s daily lives. All it takes is genuine leadership, and a recognition that Portlanders have had enough.”
The Red House Autonomous Zone has taken over a large area of North Mississippi Avenue, surrounding a house that has been foreclosed. The residents, a black man and an indigenous woman, refused to vacate following service of multiple eviction notices. Antifa and Black Lives Matter have made it the cause of the week, creating an autonomous zone around the house in protest of what they call gentrification.
This autonomous zone is much more organized and better defended than the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ/CHOP) in Seattle over the summer. The barricades blocking streets are designed like the ones used by the Germans to defend Normandy from the allied invasion. A large security force with AR-15s and AK-47s patrols the perimeter. Johnson told PJ Media that he saw large weapons and ammunition caches, and security forces open carrying sidearms and long rifles. He also witnessed a dispute between two security guards that ended up with each of them pointing their sidearms at each other, before it deescalated.
On Wednesday, Oregon Catalyst reported:
Yesterday the police swept through the Portland autonomous zone and cleared it out.
Now 24 hours later, five block streets have been retaken and barricaded to extraordinary size.
As the photo shows, these barricades come complete with piles of all kinds of weapons; spikes, small stones, eggs and bottles which have been used as Molotov Cokatials in the past.
The streets are filled with spikes and over-turned garbage cans from local businesses
Usual messages, kill cops, kill journalists, kill landlords and kill rich people.
It remains to be seen if the leaders of Portland will step up and take the positive action demonstrated by Gabe Johnson. Whether the Red House Autonomous Zone ends with peaceful negotiation or something more violent depends on it.