PORTLAND, Ore. - Seeking to make a May Day statement Tuesday, protesters reclaimed a home in Northeast Portland for the woman who lost it to foreclosure last year.
One protester smashed open the realtor lockbox on the door of the vacant home on Northeast 6th and Bryant. Then another presented the key to the former owner, Alicia Jackson, who moved out last August.
Protesters marched from Woodland Park a few blocks away to the house, filling up the street and blocking traffic. They were prepared, it seemed, to face off with police, but that never happened because police officers stayed back and let the protesters do what they wanted.
It was a party-like atmosphere with protesters playing music, eating food, and essentially having a block party while Jackson moved her furniture back into her former home. Protesters also took a handsaw to the “for sale” sign out front and cut it apart.
"This is a community asserting its right to control its resources," said protest organizer Taran Connelly. "We're planting a garden, we're moving somebody back into their home, there's no real need for the police to be here."
The Portland Liberation Organizing Council, the group behind the re-occupation of the home, plans to return with strength in numbers if police or anybody else tries to pressure Jackson to leave the home. Jackson said she believes she’s there to stay.
"I am reclaiming my house that was taken from me illegally by the banks," she said.
Jackson said she has not been in contact with the bank since moving out. She was not clear on which bank owns the house and she would not say how much she owed it. She would only say the situation would have to be decided by the courts.
Connelly said he sees his actions as a struggle against unjust laws.
"There comes a time in America where you need to do what’s right and let the laws take care of themselves," he said.
Whichever bank owns the house has the right to ask police to take action and remove Jackson. Police said they will, but right now it is not a priority.
The group that organized Tuesday's home "liberation" says it plans to liberate more homes in the future.