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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Police Make String of Arrests for Squatting in Vacant Houses

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Portland Police announced yesterday afternoon that they had recently arrested five Portlanders, age 23 to 29, for living illegally in two empty homes off NE Killingsworth and North Minnesota.

As the foreclosure crisis continues, I'm sure we're going to see more reports like this one. With empty, foreclosed homes dotting Portland, people looking for a place to spend the night inside are doubtless going to continue taking up residence. It's not the same as a unified political movement—Unsettle Portland is helping people stay in foreclosed homes in the much different way—it's about survival which, ultimately, breaks the law and can frustrate neighbors.

The two groups, whose names and mugshots are here, were all charged with criminal trespass in the second degree for living in vacant homes.

One set of arrests took place February 9th, where police responded to a call about a burglary in process at a house on the 4900 block of North Minnesota. When the police called the property owner, he said no one was supposed to be in the house, so police arrested the two occupants with trespassing. Police report that inside the house they also found material "indicating links to the local Anarchist movement, as well as addresses of other local vacant houses, boxing and mixed martial arts sparring equipment, and literature about picking and defeating locks." I asked Police Spokesman Detective Pete Simpson to clarify was sort of Anarchist links were found and he replied that he does not have specifics, but believes the materials were flyers and artwork.

In the second arrests, officers from the neighborhood response team and Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Jim Hayden cleared a vacant house near NE 14th and Killingsworth of its three temporary inhabitants. Officers say they found this strange letter inside: "For the better part of 2011 the squatter community in Portland has been focused upon houses owned by an elderly bankrupt lady named [name withheld by Portland Police]. The idea was that we might have a better chance at survival if the landowner was, as our research could tell, a batty old lady and her bed ridden husband."

In November, police responding the neighbor complaints arrested two people for trespassing at a foreclosed home right nearby.

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