PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One week ago, protests had Portland on edge. This week, there’s free parking downtown as an incentive to get shoppers to visit the stores affected by the demonstrations.
The initiative — Shop. Eat. Play. — was announced earlier this week by Mayor Ted Wheeler along with other business, civic and elected city leaders.
As part of the “Shop. Eat. Play.” campaign, rides on the Portland Streetcar and Biketown will be free all day and there will be promo codes for rideshare, e-scooters and taxis.
Parking will also be free downtown, on the east side and at Smart Park garage. Despite that, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly encouraged people to chose an alternative to driving.
Tigard resident Kathy Jarrett was one of many who visited downtown Portland on Saturday.
“We came downtown because there was free parking and to support the businesses because I feel it’s necessary to back up the people who suffered from the protests,” Jarrett told KOIN 6 News.
Amy Hendrickson and her husband Charles, both of Northeast Portland, were also out and about.
“We heard that business was down last week because of what happened so we want to support them and we came down to the market and ate here and then we walk around and shop for a little bit.”
Meanwhile, members of a far-right group that took part in the Aug. 17 protests posted on Facebook that they would hold a small rally on Saturday in downtown Portland.
The group’s leader, Joey Gibson, is facing a felony riot charge for a fight that broke out at a local business during a rally and protest on May 1. He’s back in court on Monday.
The official opening of Portland’s new visitor center at Director Park will also take place Saturday.
Andrew Hoan with the Portland Business Alliance said a survey estimates there was upwards of $3 million of foregone revenue and added expenses for businesses on August 17.
“Whenever a situation like the one last Saturday happens, it has a negative effect on our local business community, their employees, and their families,” Wheeler said in a press release. “This is the busiest time of year, and businesses large and small have been significantly affected so let’s show them some extra love on Saturday, Aug. 24!”