The Black Working Group is an organization that formed out of Occupy Portland
Newly founded community center targeted by police
Community members respond with overwhelming support for the center
Contact: Lobo (Adrian Guerrero), (925)609-4815
Portland, OR – Sunday night, August 5th, at approximately 11pm, six officers from the Portland Police forced their way into a newly created community center inside of a duplex owned by Alicia Jackson, and arrested one person inside. The duplex was reclaimed earlier in the day by approximately 250 people from the surrounding community during a neighborhood block party. The duplex was built on land that belongs to Ms. Jackson, which had been illegally foreclosed on by the banks in 2011.
“The neighbors have shown that they support this community center and are opposed to this duplex contributing to the gentrification of this neighborhood. The police came in tonight protecting the banks and the developers that are selling out our community and profiting out of the pockets of working people,” says Alicia Jackson. “Developers should not be allowed to profit from stolen land.”
Ms. Jackson had self-evicted from her home, adjacent to the duplex, in late 2011 after a long period of intimidation from the banks and financial institutions. After her illegal foreclosure, the bank sold her home and land, which was then divided and sold to a developer who then built the duplex. The community reclaimed Ms. Jackson’s home on May 1st, 2012. She has been living in the home with the support of her neighbors since then. Ms. Jackson is a member of the Black Working Group and has been organizing with her neighbors to stop the gentrification in NE Portland. The Black Working Group and Blazing Arrow Organization supported Annette Steele in defending her home against eviction on Friday, July 27th.
During the day on Sunday, August 5th, Alicia Jackson hosted a block party on her street in NE Portland where the community and neighbors helped to reclaim and liberate the duplex built on her land. The duplex was intended by the neighbors to be transformed into a community center for people, specifically youth of color, that would house an edible food garden, community fitness center, and meeting space for organizing against gentrification and violence in the neighborhood. These home and community center liberations are part of a broader movement to fight foreclosure and defend the historic people of color communities in north and northeast Portland. The duplex had not been inhabited since construction.
When the police arrived and forced their way into the duplex, a network of community support was activated and within the hour approximately 100 people came out to the homes to offer defense, witness, and assistance to the people living in those homes.
The police arrested one person who was a part of the liberation of that space earlier in the day and is a part of the Blazing Arrow Organization. The police went through the house with a police dog and a forensics unit, and left the homes at approximately 1:40am on Monday morning. The press release written by PPB at the time of arrest contains false information, including a false photo of the person arrested.
Said Lobo of Blazing Arrow: “The police are charging the arrestee with burglary and trespass of a home, but the fact is that nobody was living in this duplex since it was built, because nobody has wanted to move onto land that has been stolen from the original resident. Ms. Jackson and the community have not stolen anything– we have only taken back what was stolen from us. The burglary charge will not hold up in court because they have absolutely no evidence that the person who was arrested stole anything, or that they were planning to commit a crime. The community took this land back, to make a community center. If they’re going to charge one person with burglary, they might as well charge the whole community with it.”
To get updates about urgent community support needs for foreclosed homes and evictions, join the rapid response network by texting @ploc-openrrn to 23359.
The Black Working Group is an organization working to fight foreclosure in N and NE Portland.
The Blazing Arrow Organization was formed to organize the community to resist foreclosure and police violence.
Northeast residents reclaim duplex, fight gentrification
Contact Number (Lobo): (925) 609-4815
Portland, OR — On Sunday, August 5th, residents of NE Portland held a block party in the historically black Woodlawn neighborhood, to celebrate the ongoing defense of Alicia Jackson’s home from foreclosure, and to publicly reclaim the new duplex built on her land. This property is also on Ms. Jackson’s land and was taken during the foreclosure process. Community members plan to use the reclaimed duplex, which is currently the subject of a legal dispute, as a base of organizing against gentrification and police violence in the neighborhood.
“This property was illegally taken from me by the banks. This community is strong. We will not sit by and watch developers destroy our neighborhood, while the police harass our youth and drive families from this community,” said Alicia Jackson, member of the Black Working Group and subject of much attention when her home was liberated by 500 people on May 1 of this year.
Northeast is often called “the soul of Portland” because of its historically black neighborhoods, but gentrification, the replacement of locals by wealthier residents through bank investment and uncontrolled development, has changed that. In response, a growing number of people in NE are waging a public fight to keep their homes, rather than be relocated by the banks. The action at Ms. Jackson’s home on May Day was the first of several community supported home defenses in the city this year. On Friday, July 27th, 79 year old Annette Steele declared that she would resist eviction, saying “This is my home. They can’t take it away from me. My neighbors support me and if the sheriff comes, I’m ready… I don’t have a gun anymore, but I keep hot water on the stove.”
“Housing must be defended to end violence in working-class communities. Stable housing creates an environment for community self-reliance and healthy relationships. Without secure housing, families are displaced and communities are fragmented,” said Lobo, co-founder of the Blazing Arrow Organization, a group that formed to fight gentrification and police violence in North and Northeast Portland. “Gentrification breaks the tie between generations, and forces communities to depend more heavily on outsiders such as the police to solve conflicts. Defending homes and stopping eviction protects the community’s safety.”
Continued exploitative development of NE Portland is tied directly to the PPB’s Gang Enforcement program. Since the program began, over 200 people, mostly black youth, have been arrested each month along Killingsworth between N Interstate Ave. and MLK Blvd. In addition to land and building reclamation, Blazing Arrow Organization is beginning community patrols to monitor arrests and support people as police conflicts arise. The community patrols will be based out of the newly liberated center.
“Working people deserve to live without the fear of losing their home or being brutalized by the police. The BAO will use this new organizing center to stop gentrification and respond to police violence. It will be open to anyone fighting for freedom from white supremacy and oppression. We are working class, queer, and people of color, committed to creating a society that both meets our basic needs and respects our human dignity. We are prepared to defend ourselves and the work we are doing, and invite others to work alongside us.”
The Blazing Arrow Organization was formed by a group of community members to address gentrification by way of housing defense. To find out more and get involved, contact Lobo at (925) 609-4815. To become part of the rapid response network and defend homes, text @ploc-openrrn to 23559.