Portland observer. (Portland, Or.) 1970-current, March 02, 2016, Image 1

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Human Artist
New building
will retain
leader’s name
Acclaimed painter
to visit Northwest
College of Art
QR code for
Portland Observer
See Metro, page 9
‘City of Roses’
Gladys McCoy
Volume XLV
Number 9
See Local News, page 3
Wednesday • March 2, 2016
Established in 1970
Committed to Cultural Diversity
photo by M ark W ashington /t he p ortland o bserver
For Joseph “King J” Harris the fight he is waging with the city over penalties assessed for nuisance complaints against his northeast Portland home is about freedom and a
person’s right to collect possessions and control the things he owns on his own property.
Time Runs Out
by M ichael l eighton
p ortland o bserver e ditor
High drama is playing out in northeast Portland where
the city of Portland is taking legal action against a long
time activist in the African American community to en-
force a nuisance complaint.
Time has run out for Joseph “King J” Harris as con-
tracting crews have arrived at his home of 30 years to clear
away the possessions in his yard, on his porches, and sur-
rounding almost every square foot of his 1904 home.
The city Bureau of Development Services says after
a six-year struggle they went to court to obtain a search
warrant to remove all trash and debris and non-trash items
stored in the outdoor areas of the property, using whatever
reasonable force is necessary to gain access, including po-
lice officers if necessary.
Harris has not interfered with the crews as the items are
loaded by the truckload and hauled away, but he is fiercely
opposed to the removal, which is still not finished after
two weeks.
Harris, 66, is a lifelong Portland resident who has been
active in advancing justice issues for his community. He
ran for mayor back in 1976 and 1980. He got his nick-
name for the rallies and speeches he led in the late 1990s
to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, an activist journalist who was
considered a political prisoner as he sat on death row in
the killing of a New York police officer.
His current cause is advocating for the creation of a Black
History Museum in Oregon, and Harris said some of the items
being carted away from his home were pieces he prized as fu-
ture artifacts for the museum. Mostly the removal of property
violates the very essence of freedom of ownership, he said.
City takes legal action
against homeowner
Portland code specialist and inspector Wayne Bates
said the city tried to get Harris to reduce his collection, but
instead it increased to the street. The enforcement is under
Title 29 of a city code regulating nuisance properties.
The costs associated with the removal and the potential
for large fines could be applied as a lien against the home
and could threaten Harris’ ability to continue living on the
Harris learned early in life that owning a home was a
way to be self-sufficient. He bought his first home in Port-
land when he was just 19. Now he’s at risk of becoming
the latest member of the black community to face dis-
placement, joining the thousands of other longtime resi-
dents who can no longer find affordable housing in close-
c ontinued on p age 5