Solidarity in Spring: Portland’s May Day 2015

United organizations against violence.

United organizations against violence.

We come to mark it on our calendar every year. It comes as the annual chance to bring issues together, meet and greet and have an action that is often more about getting re-energized than about getting something done. This has gotten many May Day actions locally criticized for taking a huge amount of time, energy, and money, yet not resulting in movements that are any stronger. However, the last two years have really started to buck this trend, with last year really drawing issues of immigration together with the high profile fight between the ILWU and United Grain. This year Portland joined with cities around the country in identifying an overarching theme that effectively dominated the messaging: Black Lives Matter.


Unions standing in unison against police violence, despite the police union's pressure.

Unions standing in unison against police violence, despite the police union’s pressure.

As groups gathered in the South Park Blocks there was a clear trend moving in that direction. $15Now had a large presence, which is drawing on the strength that they have had in the Northwest in recent months. The recent April 15th Fight for $15 action drew hundreds in Portland as $15Now, Jobs With Justice, SEIU and AAUP worked together to target the wage gap for workers in fast food, care working, and adjunct teaching. This messaging was continued, though Black Lives Matter was notably added to many signs and banners. They, along with Portland Jobs With Justice, made the largest labor showing, which is not unusual for a march that tends towards the more radical side of labor inclusion. Along the way there were many from Unite HERE Local 8, SEIU 49 and 503, AFSCME, Laborers’ and the Teamsters, though ILWU was notably absent. This is surprising after the announcement of ILWU’s May Day action in solidarity with Baltimore, as well as their huge contingent last year. The Carpenters and Painters unions, respectively, all brought notable contingents, as well as groups like the Portland Industrial Workers of the World, Portland Solidarity Network, and the VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project.


The day began with a pre-march starting at Portland State University called by groups like the Student Organizing Committee, made up of students from multiple Portland area colleges, and Don’t Shoot PDX, marching in solidarity with Baltimore. Several hundred challenged the campus and took the streets in a large un-permitted march, galvanizing energy that they led back down to the May Day central meeting space. From here on the messaging continued towards targeting racist police violence, and it integrated that message into areas that this type of analysis is often absent. A large banner read “Labor Against Racist Police Murder” drew a strong line about where many in the local labor community stand, where the police union often tries to draw divisions in the AFL-CIO over this issue.


Throwing some hard truths about the prison-industrial complex.

Throwing some hard truths about the prison-industrial complex.

The participation demographics also shifted further away from the sea of homogenous white faces that have often colored other actions. Folks of color, as well as organizations like the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party, shifted the conversation in a way that really indicts the institutional racism that is getting highlighted in these high-profile police killings. Throughout the march, which made many stops, detours, and splits, folks of color took the lead in showing direction and targeting purveyors of institutional violence.


“How many people must die in this system before we realize it was not built for us?” said Adrienne Cabouet, challenging the liberal notion that the institution of policing simply needs to be reformed.


After the march took off, taking well over a thousand people to the streets, the first stop was to swarm the Justice Center, as speakers called out the trend, both nationally and regionally, to scapegoat communities of color and to act with violent fervor with complete impunity. The march then headed straight down to Burnside, the major road dividing Downtown Portland, and hit a right to take the bridge. This was when police made their first confrontation, lining up to block protesters. It was in moments like this that we have seen a clear change in the character of protests, where organizers and participants are much more willing to challenge the violence of the police. Instead of backing down, their voices were loud with chants and speak-outs that showed a real energy that stood against the officers. Quickly storm troopers in tactical gear showed up, and police began pepper spraying the crowd, clearly agitated that some people were peacefully using strong language. Instead of running, the crowd blocked the tear gas and sat down in defiance, proving that they controlled the situation and the streets.

Police moving in on protesters with aggression.

Police moving in on protesters with aggression.


At this point the march split in two and one headed down the Naito Parkway, then up to Pioneer Courthouse Square. Here, street theater and chants targeted the racial aspects of Wells Fargo’s involvement in the private prison system. The downtown Wells Fargo branch shut down as protesters did a mock “slave auction,” and a banner was displayed reading “Felon is the New Name for N*****.” After a convergence in the square where speakers discussed the personal ways that police violence has brought fear into their families, the march re-engaged the streets in an unpermitted action. It was here the police openly used flash-grenades and pepper gas, hitting several protesters that had to be carried out. The police demanded the streets cleared, which had almost no response. Burnside Bridge remained a target, getting shut down as protesters continued to push.


Protesters moving to a seating position in response to police aggression.

What we saw for the 2015 May Day is a notable shift towards militancy, really brought about by the escalations in state violence. While all of these issues are clearly related, as economic inequality and racism are scourges of social hierarchy, the blood that is soaking our streets brings us to a place of urgency. This was felt in spades around every movement represented there. Cultural and ethnic groups were standing alongside the various community organizations. Groups like the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Movimiento Estudianti Chicano de Astlan, as well as a coalition project made up of groups like the AARP and BLMPDX declaring “Solidarity Against State Violence and U.S. Imperialism.” This is a strong turn where by the idea of organizing has pushed out of its usual circles and into those that have often stayed on the periphery. Now it is necessary.   Now it has to happen.


Another notable addition was the increase in the presence of housing groups. Beyond the Portland Solidarity Network discussing its tenant support campaigns, there were representative organizations from the Right to the City Coalition and the Western Regional Advocacy Project. Right to the City is looking towards focusing on progressive candidates for local office in 2016 and WRAP has been focused on the Homeless Bill of Rights, but both show a trend returning housing justice to the forefront of organizing circles. Much of this may be coming from the beginning Renter’s Assemblies, which have been having a huge recent success in Portland and around the country. It also is likely coming from Socialist Alternative’s push to follow $15Now with a focus on rent control, which is the pattern they showed in Seattle. Either way, this return to the targeting of housing issues is critically important as Portland’s livability rapidly declines with rising rents, and a new housing crisis could be close on the horizon. PDXSol was specifically discussing a project on the outer eastside of Portland, where they have been working with tenants who have been pushed out of the center of the city by rising rents and gentrification.


Black Lives Matter is a movement that is changing the shape of organizing. This kind of mobilization towards inclusivity and against the institutional racist violence that is ever present is an incredible development. As Freddie Gray’s killers have been indicted, let’s hope this only mobilizes folks to take on the police in further escalations. It is through the collective action of the people that we can transform systems, and create a community that can use systems of transformative justice rather than state violence to drive safety. What we are also seeing is that movements are again using annual mobilizations like May Day to push existing social movements, which is the perfect way to utilize a mass grouping that already exists. In 2014 ILWU drew a breakaway to confront United Grain, but this year it was more than a dozen groups who were all converging on a single theme: end racist violence. In this way it was several parallel and converging movements not just tapping into the existing thrust of May Day, but completely taking it over. And in this situation, that is the best thing that could have happened.


Second Round of Picketing at Fox!

Supporters of Portland Solidarity Network and Aubrey and Becky’s campaign gathered outside Fox Management Inc.’s offices Thursday April 9th for a lively picket of the slumlord! The message was loud and clear as the community called for fairness toward the tenants Fox has tried to to profit off of by ignoring appliance and mold problems and charging hundreds in absurd fees after evicting them.

As the group marched toward the office, it became clear that Fox had been expecting us as yet another comical display by the unscrupulous rental company came into view: Fox had covered their entire building from roof to sidewalk in a giant blue tarp and parked several unmarked white vans on the sidewalk blockading access to their building and closing the sidewalk to pedestrians. Within the caution tape-encircled stronghold, a lone worker could be seen “power washing” the cement between Fox employees’ parked cars.

Aside from being humorous and juvenile, this desperate maneuver to avoid having to deal with the anger and determination of the community reflects a larger pattern by Fox of total failure to recognize and take responsibility for the harm they caused and continue to cause. For companies like Fox, tenant exploitation is the order of the day, it’s business as usual, so when Portland calls them on it, as in the case of Aubrey and Becky’s campaign, their only response is to hide and hope it all goes away.

The headache didn’t go away for Fox, however, as the crowd of picketers filled the bike lane outside their office for nearly two hours of noisy fun. At one point during the picket, the crowd did a mass call in to Fox’s office phones to tell Fox and Kallie Caito to pay Aubrey and Becky back. In addition to exposing Fox yet again to its neighbors and the community as the slumlordly establishment it is, the picket forced Fox to shut down their business for the afternoon, as the company preferred to hide under a tarp rather than face the music. Thanks to everyone who came or passed word of the event along to others; your support is what makes this work possible! Please stay tuned for our next actions in this campaign.

Picketers outside Fox Management Inc.'s office

Picketers outside Fox Management Inc.’s office

Picketers at Fox Management Inc.'s office

Picketers at Fox Management Inc.’s office

Picketers at Fox Management Inc.'s office

Picketers at Fox Management Inc.’s office

Fox closed down the sidewalk during the picket

Fox closed down the sidewalk during the picket

Picketing in front of Fox's tarped over office

Picketing in front of Fox’s tarped over office

PDXSol Picket Fox Management; Property Manager Kallie Caito Lashes Out With Erratic Rants


On Wednesday, February 18th the Portland Solidarity Network’s Outer East Side Committee escalated their campaign against Fox Management and property manager Kallie Caito. The campaign supports Aubrey and Becky, who are former tenants of a Fox Management apartment for more than ten years, where they suffered ill-repair and dangerous conditions in their apartment, over charging, and eventual eviction without cause.


About twenty people came together to picket the property manager with signs letting people know not to rent from Fox Management, as well as calling them slumlords. In preparation for the picket, Fox Management called the police, who came twice, yet could not stop the picket. Chants came together loudly with renditions like “Kallie Caito come outside/Fox is greedy, you can’t hide!” Over the course of the picket the managers locked the door and hid upstairs, taking pictures and gawking from the windows. Passersby and tenants having to deal with Fox Management were given flyers telling about Aubrey and Becky’s experience, and the neighboring businesses and organizations got a first hand look at what their neighbor was up to.

This picket comes on the heels of an active campaign that has been marked by the erratic behavior of property manager Kallie Caito. After the initial demand delivery, in which she hid away from the community and tenant delegation, Kallie went about to find the video and articles about the action. On a friendly housing blog that reposted the story and video about the demand delivery, Kallie Caito left a series of antagonistic and strange responses attempting to bait and taunt the organizers. In her initial quote she said:

I just wanted to point out that I’m more like everyone here than you’d think. I’m liberal, I’ve protested, my friends are members of activist entities, I’ve quit my job in the past to join AmeriCorps and move across the country, I’ve volunteered in hard-hit areas to help my fellow man. I’ve stood in solidarity with the people of New Orleans post-Katrina after snipers shot their friends/family, government failed them, they were being taken advantage of. I’m a renter, I’m a student, I’m compassionate, and I’m a justice seeker. And I’m offended while my professional reputation is smeared. What frustrates me about this situation is that not a single person tried to contact myself or anyone at Fox Management to even attempt to get an answer. Legally, I can’t give out information without someone’s consent, but that’s not the point. However, it negatively impacts your “fight” to commit criminal trespassing, intimidation, harassment, what is now slander/libel as the accusations from Rebecca and Aubrey are false. It’s not just the company’s name or the plaintiff’s name, it’s my personal name being thrown out there when all paperwork comes from the plaintiff. Not me. To clear some things up: We’ve managed the property since the end of August/early September. I’ve completed over 140 work orders at the property since then (you do the math), and I’m well-versed in habitability issues. We require maintenance requests in writing. We have an online tenant portal, a maintenance email address, a computer kiosk in the office, a maintenance request form in the office and an on-site manager that sends me maintenance requests as received. The information provided to you is incorrect. All of it. I don’t even know how it was determined that those dollar amounts are owed. A business in the area chose to attack a neighboring business because they felt like it. Not okay.


Might I suggest asking for hard proof from people requesting help? Might I suggest being positive and inquisitive prior to being ridiculously harsh and nonsensical? Might I suggest not making threats in writing? Might I suggest listening when people tell you not to enter a private area? Also, a little more organization wouldn’t help. Don’t go out into the world looking for a fight. Go looking for answers and proof.


It makes you almost as bad as the Westboro Baptist Church.


After it became clear that her understanding of PDXSol’s politics or advice were not going to be taken seriously, she began to deconstruct and her rants just escalated.

I was referring to liberal as a definition, not a political affiliation. The fact is that “we” are not exploiting any tenants, so the battle is artificial. You should be more concerned with utilitarianism. If you don’t care what our priorities are, don’t tell us what they should be. When the truth is obvious, there is no battle. “As far as I have seen” is a dangerous statement when you’re narrow-minded and have wool over your eyes. I’m not saying tenants are not being exploited, but this is not an example of that. Again, Westboro Baptist Church. Two peas in a pod.

She further continued to embarrass herself by showing she did not understand the most basic aspects of PDXSol’s mission statement, or what organizing and community support actually is. She continued on to try and bait people, going after their supposed lack of education, and showed that she could not even begin to understand what her exploited tenants were going through.

I hope none of you have landlords. Oh, the hypocrisy.
You’re kind of like the George Bush that claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
You’re regurgitating a bunch of fake garbage and then disappearing behind some bullshit excuse.
It doesn’t help your cause.
I get that you’re not Portland Solidarity Network, but clearly no one else cared enough to comment elsewhere.
Also, you must refute the existence of a dictionary. Damn The Man printing those stupid books. They hold us all back! It’s classism!

Kallie Caito’s erratic behavior only increased from their, all of which showed a painful lack of understanding about how social movements have traditionally worked or how collective change is made.  As a part of the campaign, the Outer Eastside Committee postered both in Becky and Aubrey’s neighborhood, as well as the neighborhood where the Fox Management headquarters is, indicating what had happened and who is responsible. Kallie then posted her own posters right near their posters, which included a nonsensical rant that showed exactly how disconnected she is. It wrote:

Dear Portland Solidarity Network,

I’m clearing the air and correcting some misinformation. You’ve committed slander and libel, because the accusations were proven to be entirely FALSE. This is in addition to intimidation, harassment, and criminal trespassing. Since when is RENT a FEE? Should property owners be required to let people live in their properties for free? I highly recommend requesting PROOF from people prior to harassing someone/a business when you’ve been asked to help, and it impacts others. You’ve published lies about me all over the neighborhood where I work, all over the internet, and emailed it to a network of strangers. These people decided to harass me incessantly and told me to “re-think my life, because it sucks.” Actually, my life is great. I’ve worked with Habitat for Humanity, AmeriCorp, Global Green and other non-profits to help my fellow man. Thanks for the advice! As Mr. Walsh stated while walking out of our office, “You need to have humor.”
I’ll contact you once I find a cure for your Stick-it-to-da-man-niosis.





We are not sure if this is the ranting of a person racked with guilt about the treatment of her tenants, or if there was some important thought put behind the letter that just did not have gotten through. The accusations of Becky and Aubrey had absolutely not been proven false, and what is important to PDXSol is to support tenants who are being exploited by people like Kallie Caito and Fox Management. We aren’t sure who told her that her “life sucks,” but we are glad to hear that it is great. Aubrey and Becky’s life has not been so great, however, since she exploited and evicted them.
The Portland Solidarity Network will not quit in its support of this campaign, and all tenant campaigns that attempt to fight back against the rabid abuses that property management companies like Fox Management commit regularly. The response from Kallie Caito shows that she refuses to have empathy for people going through what is one of the most trying times in their lives.

As the crowd was leaving after the picket, one staff person from Fox Management yelled out that Aubrey’s son should “take a shower before coming back.” This was a shameful, and obviously racially motivated attack on him, and one that shows exactly what they think of everyday people standing up for themselves. So, yes Kallie, PDXSol will continue to fight for what is right, and we urge you to recognize your role in the exploitation of and attack on this family.

Fighting For Our Homes: Tenant Demand Delivery at Fox Management [VIDEO]


On Tuesday, January 20th, a group of almost forty people gathered around the corner from Aubrey’s former property management company, Fox Management.  Though nervous as the crowd was growing, Aubrey was preparing to confront the manager that had closed the door on her former apartment.  Local news Koin 6 was there to see why they were confronting their landlord, and how they were able to continue to live in a city that is becoming more and more unaffordable for renters.  Aubrey and her mother Becky had dealt with disrepair, both on their plumbing and their refrigerator, for years.  With raw sewage coming into their apartment, spoiled food, and radically high rents, they were reaching a breaking point.  It was at this point that their negligent landlord gave them a no-cause eviction.

Aubrey started by speaking out about her treatment, which now left her and her mother with no place to go after forcing them out of their home of eleven years.

“We’ve been there eleven and a half years, and we’ve never been late.  We don’t know what to do,” she said.  “Our apartment, they’ve got is listed for $925, which is almost $300 more than what we pay there.  It’s just ridiculous.”

Her mother, Becky, elaborated on her fears of leaving.

“It’s hard out there to even find a place to move to.  It’s scarey thinking that you might be out on the street.”

The crowd marched directly into the office, where staff immediately asked them to leave.  Determined, they went up the stairs and into the office where they knew their relevant property manager would be.  Instead of hearing what Aubrey had to say, she slammed the door shut and refused to let them in.  Instead, Aubrey read the letter out loud and shoved it under the door as one other distant staff person threatened to call the police.

“To Kallie Caito & Fox Management, Inc.:

It has come to our attention that Aubrey and Becky Kirk, 11-year tenants of Rose Tabor Court Apartments are owed $1600 in costs relating to habitability. We also demand that you drop the unfair fees of $437.50. Meet these demands by Tuesday, January 27th or we will take further action.

Do not contact Aubrey or Becky directly.

Contact Portland Solidarity Network when you are prepared to drop the fees and make the payment. We will pick up the check at your office.

Becky Kirk

Aubrey Kirk

Portland Solidarity Network”

The collective chants and claps of the community drowned this out, as the force of solidarity had a much stronger presence in that building.

Afterwards, Aubrey fought back tears as she thanked all the supporters who had come out, and who had raised their voices in protest.

Marching into the property management office.

Marching into the property management office.

This was only the first step in a campaign that has a growing set of escalations in front of it.  They will need the community to continue to come out, challenging the authority of a property management company that has essentially taken away Aubrey’s home.  This is the regular battle that is taking place in this city, where normal working-class people are fighting just for a right to live in the place they have called home for so long.  Without a movement that stands up from the ranks of the city’s tenants, we will never be able to keep this city our own.  As the waves of gentrification and development flush the long-time residents of Portland further and further out, we have to depend on the organized support of the community to fight back.

The day of the demand delivery, they had an eviction notice taped to their door.  They will be appearing in court at 9:00 AM on January 27th to hear more about this eviction, which is the exact day that the Portland Solidarity Network has noted they expect a response from the property management company.  If not, then the campaign will begin to escalate, and will not end until the entire list of demands has been met.


Eyes on the Prize: Solidarity from the Streets of Portland

Along with cities from around the country, Portland erupted on November 25th in one of the largest demonstrations and actions it has seen in years.  The Portland Solidarity Network came on as an official sponsor of the event that was planned in solidarity with the Mike Brown actions happening both in Ferguson and in cities across the country.


After the fatal shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri this last August, Officer Darren Wilson was cleared by a grand jury on November 24th.  The jury was directed to determine whether or not there was probable cause to level formal charges against Wilson, which could range from first-degree murder down to involuntary manslaughter.  The jury determined that no charges were to be filed, in a decision that many were saying was coerced by a mishandling by the District Attorney’s office.


In Portland, the Albina Ministerial Alliance and the Urban League put the solidarity action together.  In front of the Justice Center, they called together over two thousand people to a rally that targeted the racist police violence that has become commonplace both in our city, and the U.S. broadly.  The people present overwhelmed the area, taking Third Street over as well as the park on the other side.  Speakers ranged from local organizations and churches, each putting out a call to create a movement that has the force to confront the kind of mammoth power of institutional racism and white supremacy.  After an emotional round of Eyes on the Prize was sung, a speaker from the AMA came up and boiled the issues down to their essence.

“The blood of Michael Brown cries out for justice today.  Across this nation, and across the world.  Once again, the African American community, communities of color, mental health communities, the poor, the marginalized, citizens who love justice and democracy, those who have been crushed by the decision of the grand jury not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown.  Once again we rise at the criminal justice system of America, and law enforcement is tainted with racial bias when it comes to rendering justice and fairness for black people.  For communities of color.  For the disenfranchised and the marginalized.  We know from our own experience here in the city of Portland, that the brokenness of the criminal justice system and law enforcement.  We know from Kendra James.  We know from James Chasse.  We know from Aaron Campbell.  We know from Keaton Otis, that there is no justice and fairness when it comes to white police officers killing black and brown and poor people and mentally ill people.”

“What must we do about it?  We must not go back to our old routines, and just talk about it.  No, no, a thousand times!  We must fight to change this broken, unjust and unfair system.  We must use these times of injustice to build a movement!”


Speakers came forward from the NAACP, the All-African All-People’s Revolutionary Party, various churches, Jefferson High School, and many others to draw together the issues of police violence and racism to the various struggles in the city.  A student from Portland State University’s Black Student Union spoke powerfully and bluntly.

“Do not go quietly into that dark night!  This happens a thousand times in America.  But we have an opportunity to rise up and use our collective voices to tell America, ‘Enough is Enough!’  … American, how much more do you want us to bear?  We bore the injustices of slavery.  We bore the injustices of the lies of emancipation.  We bore injustices of segregation.  We bore indignities of Jim Crow.  We bore the annihilation of our communities.  We bore the brunt of mass incarceration.  We bore the debt of your housing market.  We bore the magnitude of under and unemployment.  We bore the assassination of our leaders, and now our children.  How much more America?  What is the cost of justice and freedom?  What is the mortgage on the lives of black and brown folks?  How many more payments before you reduce the principle balance on our freedom? “

“When will black lives matter?”


Speakers from the Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines and the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party drew the killing right back to capitalism, imperialism, and the need for revolutionary change and international solidarity.  A call here was really to get involved in ongoing organizing efforts, from challenging police violence to related movements such as housing struggles and labor.


A march was then led, through downtown with a population that over swelled even the roads.  The memetic chant “Hands up!  Don’t shoot!” was common, with people focusing directly on the targeting of young people of color that has marked the city in recent years.  There was a sense of group solidarity as major unions, non-profits like Basic Rights Oregon and the NAACP, and more radical organizations like the Black Rose Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation and the International Socialist Organization stood together with a complementary vision.   As the march wound back to the Justice Center, the AMA led a final talk about Michael Brown’s family and led a chorus of old spiritual activist songs and a candlelight vigil.


At this point a large contingent began to form that did not want to end the action at that point, many calling for direct action at the Justice Center openly.  From a third to half of the crowd broke away at this point and led an unpermitted march that again took the streets over and head towards the Morrison Bridge.  Here protesters began to push against the forming police force in an effort to take the bridge, with police beginning to shove through the crowd and drive motorcycles into the crowd.

The march moved back down the street and took over the Burnside Bridge, making it across the river and blocking the intersection on the other side.  Moving through the Water District, the next spot was to openly block Interstate 5 from a park, the same way that organizers have done so in Oakland and Los Angeles.  It was at this point that the police force took another turn and began attacking protesters with the riot-prepared troops and cavalry.  As hundred of protesters attempted to stage a sit-in on the freeway and/or occupy the park, the police began swinging batons and letting pepper spray loose.  Participants of color had to be treated by street medics for pepper spray directly into their eyes, which is an irony that must have been lost on the Portland Police Department.  A former member of the Portland Solidarity Network, and close ally, was seriously injured by police batons, and had to be cared for by a street medic before being rushed to the emergency room.


A move was made to take the next bridge and head back into downtown, though police were beginning to pick off large portions of protesters by blocking them onto portions of the bridge and going for mass arrests.  Luckily, many people were saved from being taken into custody as unarrests in the chaos of the freeway action were roundly successful.  From here protesters made it in the direction of PGE Park, where a now fully militarized police force began using crowd control measures.  Though there were seven arrests reported, the numbers could have been much higher without a conscious move by the people on the ground to keep the crowd together and to watch out for the treatment of fellow protesters.  Things ramped up even more aggressively as the police riot van had its windows smashed in and there were reports of protestor injuries increasing rapidly.  The rest of the crowd eventually made it to Waterfront Park, where final speeches were made and a commitment given to keep this fight going into the long-term.


An action like this shows both the passion and desire that is necessary for mass movements, and the ability to think in a more radical context to directly confront the kind of racial animosity that has tarnished our local and national institutions.  Though we are incredibly happy to see the actions play out as they have, we also want to see this turn into long-term organizing that will be able to continue to target this systemic inequality.  The kind of racism that was implicit and led to both the shooting of Mike Brown by Darren Wilson, and the several police murders in the Portland area, is just as prevalent in people’s workplaces and housing situations.  Redlining, Section 8 and rental discrimination, unequal foreclosure rates, and inaccess to public housing all mark institutionalized housing oppression against people of color in our communities.  We are committing to work with tenants across the city to use community solidarity to force concessions and change in people’s neighborhoods and housing complexes.  These racial issues are not just at play in loud points of cruel violence, but also the subtle evictions that we see in apartment complexes across all cities and the kind of gentrification that turns previously communities of color into trendy shopping centers for upper-class whites.  Let’s take the anger and determination that we saw on November 25th and continue to challenge these institutions, and hopefully we can use this as an opportunity to spotlight the racism that is central to the unequal access to housing in this city and country.


Stories of Victory and Solidarity: A Conversation With SeaSol and PDXSol


Portland Solidarity Network standing in support of a day laborer who had wages stolen!

Portland Solidarity Network standing in support of a day laborer who had wages stolen!

Tired of bosses and landlords ripping you off?

The Inner City Committee of the Portland Solidarity Network (PDXSol), invites you to a discussion on organizing to win with the Seattle Solidarity Network and PDXSol.

We’ll hear from people who have successfully won grassroots campaigns to turn the tables on landlords who refused repairs or stole security deposits, and bosses who stole their pay. Whether it is organizing in the neighborhoods against landlords, or in the workplace to get what we deserve from our bosses, we come together to show solidarity across the community!

Guests will include members of Seattle Solidarity Network(SeaSol), who will talk about their recent victories and how they achieved them.  SeaSol was the first major solidarity network, and has garnered major attention for not only focusing on returning stolen wages and security deposits, but for doing “multi-tenant” organizing and actual workplace strikes.  They have helped to push this new organizing model, which provides and incredible avenue for those looking to organize in both housing and the workplace.  The Portland Solidarity Network(PDXSol) will also be there to talk about their formation and recent victories, both in housing and in collaboration with the VOZ Worker’s Center on wage-theft cases.  We have a long history of successful organizing that looks at both wage-theft and tenant exploitation, and we want to expand and grow in our community.

Come and learn more about how people can come together to support each other and win real gains and power in their communities!

We fight together, and we’d love your help.


Where: In Other Words, 14 N. Killingsworth

When: December 7th, 4:30


Facebook Event:

Miranda and the Portland Solidarity Network Announce Tenant Victory in the Outer Eastside

Miranda holding the check issued to her from her former landlord!

Miranda holding the check issued to her from her former landlord!

Miranda and the Portland Solidarity Network are proud to announce that we have reached amicable terms with Bluestone & Hockley.  The company, now the property management company handling the Patia’s Corner Apartments, paid Miranda the full amount that was demanded.  This includes her complete security deposit; the prorated rent for the time that she was not in the apartment, and the additional money for the utilities that then negligence in repairs cost her.  A check for $1195 was written to her directly and her complaints and issues were finally heard and understood. This marks a major victory for the first campaign for the Outer Eastside Committee of PDXSol, and a major step forward for tenant organizing in this city.


After the community came together to support Miranda on our demand delivery, we continued our escalation campaign by postering in the apartment complex itself.  These posters addressed the owners of the complex and demanded that they do the right thing and pay Miranda the owed sum.  The goal of this was to publicly show what had happened and remove the shadows that negligent landlords often hide these sorts of cases in.  It was also a beacon to other tenants who may have faced similar mistreatment and whose stories may have gotten brushed aside.  The demand letter was sent to the owners and the property management company Bluestone and Hockley Real Estate Services, who was brought on recently and had not been in charge when Miranda was a tenant.  They were unaware of what kind of conditions the tenant relationships had been under their previous property management.  After seeing the community support and hearing the legitimacy of Miranda’s claims, they decided to settle and pay her the money that was owed.


The Portland Solidarity Network is committed to supporting tenants who have been the victims of slumlord practices, and will continue to build a ground-up tenants movement in the outer eastside of the city.  These working class neighborhoods are some of the hardest hit areas when it comes to exploitative landlords, and the only way to truly curb this behavior is to organize and develop community power.  We hope to move beyond the single cases and create a permanent network of tenants to support each other and fight back through collective and direct action.  Miranda’s case shows that just a small display of our power as regular people can push forward a track of justice, and we need to take this inspiration as we head into further cases and new tenant campaigns.


From our workplace to our homes,

When we fight, we win!




March on the Slumlord: Miranda and PDXSol Announce Campaign With Demand Delivery

Miranda and her mother marching together to stand up to her slumlord.

Miranda and her mother marching together to stand up to her slumlord.

There is a point at which everyone breaks, and Miranda has already exceeded it.  Living on a limited income and with pets that she could never abandon, Miranda moved into her former apartment with some reservations.  There was clear damage inside, all of which she was repeatedly reassured that it would be taken care of quickly.  When she was given a pile of documents to sign no red flags came up from her new landlord, Kurt, telling her that she was signing in agreement with a walk-through that had never happened.

Over the subsequent three years the decay in the apartment hit a fever pitch, a problem that rested entirely on their shoulders.  Their property manager, whose erratic behavior and drug use made common notifications next to impossible, ignored their requests for repairs regularly.  The water heater became a central problem, and instead of seeking professional repairs or replacements the landlord sent his son into her apartment to drain it with a hose through the window.  This did not put an end to the mechanical trouble as it continued to keep the water at a boiling temperature, which shot her utility bills up hundreds of dollars.  Her final solution was to manually shut off the water heater at the circuit breaker whenever it was not in use, which means that anytime showers needed to happen the roommates had to come together in a sequence or forgo hot water entirely.  After two years the pipes began failing and leaking rust-stained water into her home, and the housemates eventually had to do their dishes in the bathtub because of the malfunctioning fixtures in the kitchen.

“I paid him over $23,000(in rent) over three years, and he never would fix anything,” said Miranda.“

Miranda’s requests for repairs had become a regular cycle, with Kurt either outright ignoring her or pacifying her for the moment.  She eventually confronted him at his door, filming him to keep a record of the systemic abuses she was seeing in this relationship.  Instead of living up to his commitment, he slammed the door in her face.  Shortly there after she got a text message saying that she had thirty days to get out.  An eviction deriving directly from her simple requests to have her apartment brought up to basic living standards.

Test message Miranda received notifying her of her eviction.

Test message Miranda received notifying her of her eviction.

Though the eviction was in clear violation of local tenant laws, Miranda conceded and even moved out ahead of the eviction date.  When she attempted to get Kurt to do the walk through in the apartment with her so that she could document that she had made no damages, he refused and angrily slammed the door in her face.


Does this story sound familiar?  It does to most of us, as this type of “slumlord” tenant exploitation is commonplace for young people and those on lower-income scales.  Landlords use tenant’s security deposits, which are legally required to be put into a bank account and saved, without giving just cause as to what it is really for.  Thirty-day no-cause eviction is commonplace in most states, and in Oregon it is one of the main things that allow people like Kurt the freedom to create a pattern of fear around his tenants.  Miranda was clearly excised from the property for having the audacity to hold Kurt to his end of the agreement, and that was just unbearable for him.  He decided to keep her security deposit, citing damage to the unit that was there long before Miranda had set foot inside.  He is also charging an additional $700 for damages that no one can seem to identify, but, as Kurt knows full well, most tenants will just pay the amount rather than go through the arduous legal process that is stacked in favor of the property-owner.


Miranda is going for a third option.


She, along with the Portland Solidarity Network, has decided to fight back with community support.  The Portland Solidarity Network was formed several years ago, working on a model popularized by organizations like the Seattle Solidarity Network.  The foundation of this is simple: create tangible goals and demands and then use escalating tactics to put pressure on a target.  Whether these are wage-theft cases or security deposit related campaigns, the goal here is to see the exploiter relinquish what is owed based on the community pressure.

On August 10th, Miranda led a group of community supporters and PDXSol organizer in a “march on the slumlord,” to Kurt’s residence to deliver her demands.  Miranda had been by there a little while earlier to simply discuss the charges, an episode that was met by Kurt’s abusive rage.  He eventually called the police on her, which prevented her from ever setting foot back on that property.  She remained stationary on the sidewalk as the rest of the group descended the long driveway to Kurt’s door.  Miranda’s mother came armed with the demand letter, which she planned to read aloud whether or not Kurt decided to let her in.

“It has come to our attention that Miranda Rivamonte, a former tenant of Patia’s Corner Apartments, was given a thirty-day notice to vacate on May 15th, 2014 in response to her repeated requests to property manager Kurt Albright for necessary repairs to her apartment’s plumbing,” she read out loud.

Miranda's mother reading the demand letter.

Miranda’s mother reading the demand letter.

“Ms. Rivamonte vacated the premises on May 22nd, 2014, leaving only pre-existing damages and those incurred by normal wear-and-tear over the three years of her tenancy. However, property manager Kurt Albright refused to perform a walkthrough when asked at this time, and subsequently, Albright Enterprises saw fit to withhold the entirety of Ms. Rivamonte’s refundable security deposit ($600.00), failed to refund her rent for the period of May 23rd through May 31st (nine-days at $21.67 equaling $195.03), and proceeded to demand an additional $719.05 in scurrilous charges.”

“Furthermore, Ms. Rivamonte’s water heater was never fully repaired over the course of her three years of tenancy, despite repeated requests for this to occur.  As a result, Ms. Rivamonte endured increased utility bills estimated at approximately $400.00.  We see it as your responsibility to ensure that this situation be resolved by Albright Enterprises dropping all claims of damages for her apartment and that she be reimbursed for her security deposit, back rent for the period of May after she vacated the apartment, and the utility costs incurred as a result of the negligence of her property manager, totaling $1,195.03.”

“We expect this to be addressed shortly, within a period of no more than fourteen-days; otherwise we will take further action.”

This has been a familiar campaign stop for those utilizing the Solidarity Network model around the country.  Popularized by the Seattle Solidarity Network, this model has conventionally taken on fights such as tenant issues and wage-theft cases.  The goal is to utilize direct action and an “escalation plan” model of organizing, where by very material demands are put together and a target has pressure put on them through community action in a consistently increasing fashion.  This often takes the form of confronting former bosses about unpaid wages, past property management companies around stolen security deposits, and a variety of new possible projects coming out of the missed gaps in organized labor and housing activism.  This has spread to places like Houston, Boston, Olympia, and San Francisco, as people try to target fights that are very based in the material realities of everyday life, but have also often been neglected by the more established left movements of the area.  The Portland Solidarity Network has been at this for several years now, having taken on many high profile housing and labor fights in recent years.  This has evolved into an established place for dealing with low-wage worker issues in the area, often partnering with the VOZ Worker’s Center and the Portland Jobs With Justice chapter.

Miranda had come in contact with the Portland Solidarity Network after they had established a committee and meeting space in the outer eastside of Portland, which has a lower income base than the more affluent inner city.  Together they worked on an escalation plan and developed a long-term strategy for how to see this campaign through.

After the demand delivery it was discovered that Kurt had actually returned to prison, leaving the property up to a new management company and other members of the family.  Miranda and the Portland Solidarity Network are continuing to the next stages of the escalation campaign, moving out to the rest of the controlling parties and letting them know that this groundswell of support and action is nowhere close to peaking.

“I think because all of us have felt this kind of thing at one time or another,” Miranda said to a crowd of supporters.  “We felt just pretty much helpless and stuck by someone in a higher position than you.  So I just think its really cool that we can flip it on this guy and tell him ‘hey, we’ve got the power, not you,’”



Solidarity and Clean-Up: Supporting a Community Leader

photo 1

The Portland Solidarity Network has made a commitment to stand with tenants who are facing harassment, exploitation, and eviction from landlords and property managers, understanding that we need collective support as working class people if we are going to be able to stand up to the forces in power.  The way we do this is different than a “service” oriented organization, such as a non-profit that you go to receive help with a problem.  Instead we use a “solidarity” model, where we choose to join and support a person whose struggle it is as we organize collectively to take on the issue.  We understand as members that the success of one person’s struggle is beneficial to us in the larger sense, and therefore we have a material stake in these struggles even if we are not economically tied in the immediate way.  The format we take is to use community pressure and organizing to counter attacks from landlords, but each case is fundamentally different and we make collective decisions about how we want to address each problem.


Recently during our outreach for the new Outer Eastside Committee, were approached by a woman that was having trouble with her current property management company.  Granny Annie, as she likes to be called, is a notable medical marijuana activist from the area, and has seen many property management companies come and go at her current apartment.  As they moved people in and out, there was an accumulation of old furniture and trash that grew behind the fourplex’s collective storage shed.  The current property management company, not having understood the recent history of the complex, began to pressure her to have it removed.  Since she is eighty years old, on a tight fixed income, and having severe health problems, she was not in a position to take care of this.  She was then having eviction threatened for a problem she did not create and could not solve on her own.


After discussing the campaign we decided that the most direct approach to the issue was to simply get together and remove the offending garbage from the property.  Several members came together with two pick-ups and gathered everything that was there and hauled it away to the local dump.  This was fundamentally different than anything we traditionally have done, but we felt that it was important to extend our community support in this case where it was desperately needed.


A new relationship was forged with this community leader, and we will also stay in touch, as there have been other issues with repairs and raised rental rates that she has had to deal with.  We are happy that our collective support can be a resource to the community, and we only hope to get more people from the neighborhood involved in the kind of collective support that is needed to protect our neighborhoods from ruthless landlords and developers.

United Campaign Workers Demand Promised Payment from the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp

When a progressive campaign cannot take care of its workforce according to the principles it claims, they are in a great deal of trouble.

 Taking the streets!

Earlier this week a crew of nine campaigns canvass workers walked off their jobs at the Oregon Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) and into the office of the Industrial Workers of the World looking to form a union.  The workers had been refused the paychecks they were owed for their time, which only built on the several bounced paychecks in the past.  After their checks did not arrive on the late schedule, and management did not even want to discuss what had just happened, they walked out collectively as a unit.  This action had been a long time coming for a group of workers who had seen a “culture of secrecy and information repression that make incidents like this an ongoing problem,” said a statement they released this week.


Together they formed the United Campaign Workers (UCW) with IWW support and began a campaign to come back to work with a written agreement from management offering them the $15/hr pay rate and correct overtime they had been promised.  After initially marching on the boss with their demands and being ignored, they started what has become a nationwide call-in campaign of supporters and union partners phoning the campaign headquarters to show their support for the union.


On Friday, June 13th the workers staged another march on the boss, this time with dozens of supporters from the Portland IWW, Portland Solidarity Network, Jobs With Justice, Rose City Resistance, and other organizations and union members, and took to the streets to approach the CRRH office.

Kyle Purdy, Canvas Director, insulting and swearing at the workers.  He says he is the "real grassroots."

Kyle Purdy, Canvas Director, insulting and swearing at the workers. He says he is the “real grassroots.”

Upon entering a spokesperson from the UCW tried to present their demands to the Canvas Director at the location, Kyle Purdy, who repeatedly screamed and swore and the picketers.  Claiming that he represented a “real grassroots” campaign, he decried the workers attempt to unionize as insane and marginal.  “Grassroots doesn’t mean you’re held to a different standard than everyone else,” said UCW worker Micha, “It means you should hold yourself to a higher standard.  It means you are trying to effect positive social change.”

Workers trying to negotiate, while management just films and shouts.

Workers trying to negotiate, while management just films and shouts.

The campaign has been working on Oregon legislation I-21, the Oregon Cannabis Amendment, which would end all legal penalties around marijuana products and would even extend growing permissions to Oregonians.  It has been paired with the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, I-22, that would override existing laws to create a new regulatory framework and funnel money from marijuana sales into state programs.  This is a campaign that has large support amongst the institutional left in the state, a campaign that the workers say they are adamantly in support of and would like to see pass.   The crew repeatedly asked to go back to work, and noted that their crew alone pulls in over 600 signatures a day.  That would mean that as of that moment, the campaign has lost an estimated 3,000 signatures due to the strike.  Though this campaign has had large non-profit and union support, active labor organization came out to support the workers and the local Jobs With Justice presented the campaign with a community petition of supporters demanding they negotiate with the newly formed union.

Starting the march to the bosses!

Many of the newly hired workers were completely confounded by the action, as those who were newly hired were not aware they were replacing striking workers.  They are being offered the wage that the UCW workers were originally offered, but were never actually granted.  The workers even made several concessions, including healthcare, just to get management to the bargaining table.  One of these was a recent call for a bonus for workers with dependent children who were not able to purchase groceries after paychecks bounced.   According to the workers, a manager made the argument that it was “heteronormative” to provide the bonus for people caring for small children.  “As a member of the LGBT community, I find that highly offensive,” said fellow UCW worker Ken Kautz.  “It is not “heteronormative” to have dependents.  To have children.”


After management threatened to call in the police, the workers and community supporters took the demonstration outside.  This is only the beginning of the campaign, and a larger contingent will be heading back into the CRRH headquarters on Monday morning.


If you want to find out how to help, or more about the campaign, contact the United Campaign Workers at