PORTLAND, Ore. – Police arrested a man who they said broke into a duplex and made himself at home Sunday night.
Protesters moved into the home as part of a demonstration against foreclosures. The duplex is next door to a home formally owned by Alicia Jackson. The house was foreclosed on last year but reclaimed by Jackson and other protesters on May 1.
Jackson continues to live at the home without running water.
Sunday, police got a call about a burglary at the duplex next door, located in the 500 block of NE Bryant St. The duplex is new and staged with furniture while it’s listed for sale.
The owner of the duplex told police it appeared someone broke into the home and he thought they were still inside. Police said they arrived to find the lockbox removed from the door and another lockbox removed from the gas meter. There was also a large banner hanging from the front of the home that said “together we are unevictable.”
Protesters claimed the duplex was built illegally on Jackson’s land and said they would turn it into a community center.
Protesters said they filed a lawsuit to try and get the property legally.
“This house was stolen from Alicia Jackson through a predatory loan,” said Adrian Guerrero with the Blazing Arrow Organization. “The bank that stole it from her sold it to a developer who doesn’t even have a legal license to be operating in this state, and we just took it back.”
Police said the people were members of the Occupy Portland movement, but Guerrero told KATU News that's not the case.
He said the Blazing Arrow Organization was formed to stop foreclosures and police brutality, and is working with the Black Working Group, an organization aiming to fight gentrification. Alicia Jackson is a member of the Black Working Group, Guerrero said.
"The Occupy movement is supporting us," said Guerrero.
Late Sunday night, Police broke through a window with the owner’s permission and went inside. They found 24-year-old Derek Zika crouched by the front door. Police said Zika had personal belongings inside the home and he had just taken a shower in the bathroom. Officers also found a grocery bag that had two new sets of door locks inside.
“They used the stove, they made a mess cooking eggs in there,” said duplex owner Vlad Rudnitsky. “I rent the furniture. The furniture’s all messed up. I guess he’s been sleeping on the furniture and took a shower. All the towels are all over the place. It’s gross.”
Police also said protesters tore down the fence between Jackson’s former home and the duplex next door and left the pieces in a pile in the backyard.
"The gal was foreclosed and the property changed multiple hands. The lot [for the duplex] was split off. We went through the permitting process, got the building up, and this happened. Their issue should be with the bank not with us," said Rudnitsky.
"I mean, they have a point. Make a positive point. Not this. This is vandalism. This is a crime."
Zika was arrested and taken to the Multnomah County Jail. Monday, a judge ordered him released while he waits for a trial on a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge. Police also charged Zika with burglary, but the judge dropped the charge. He is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 14.
"We want them to know that this is not a loss and that actually we're going to keep on going," said Guerrero. "The house is going to be here, the community is going to be here, the bank and developers are not always going to be here. We can take this community center back."
Correction: In a previous version of this story we displayed the wrong mug shot for Derek Zika after police had provided the wrong photo. The correct photo is now attached.