Wheeler outlines ‘State of the Possible’ on heels of unrest

Civic Affairs

Annual State of the City Address at Portland City Club

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mayor Ted Wheeler presented his annual State of the City on Friday at the Portland City Club hours after a group vandalized downtown buildings and clashed with police.

This year’s theme was “State of the Possible,” a look at the paths of the city’s current challenges “and the bright visions for our future that are within our reach.”

Meanwhile, police and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said they’re preparing for more unrest and possible crime over the coming days.

Acts of violence against people and damage to property are unlawful and unacceptable. I have adamantly and repeatedly said that property damage and violent behavior will not be tolerated. Recent riotous activity and wanton destruction of private property that targets businesses struggling to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic does not appear connected to the calls for social justice and system reform, which I strongly support. Instead, these destructive acts only serve to harm our community. My office will continue to prosecute acts of violence and property destruction.

March 12th statement from Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt

Portland police said uniformed officers will monitor areas commonly targeted by vandals. “We’re asking people to call and report suspicious activity when they see it, whether it is related to gun violence, public disorder, or any other criminal activity,” said PPB Sgt. Kevin Allen. “Every bit of evidence and information helps law enforcement find and arrest wrongdoers.”

Police said they were too busy responding to shootings in the city to deploy the officers necessary to stop people from vandalizing the Pearl District two weeks ago. At that time, about 60 people dressed in black ripped down plywood, graffitied the courthouse and set fires in the streets. KOIN 6 News crews witnessed federal protective officers pushing back crowds of people using tear gas.

Wheeler addressed the vandalism during Friday’s speech, but downtown Portland business owners say the city isn’t doing enough. Portland Kettle owner Gayle Ostling said, “They’re letting them do whatever they want to do. We’re not being protected.”

“We’re fighting criminal destruction, intimidation and violence in partnership with reinvigorated partnerships — local, state and federal partners,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler also announced actions focused on homelessness, livability, and community safety.

One of the main ideas he pushed was focusing on clean-up efforts across the city. He announced the launch of a new citywide Clean and Green cleanup initiative. Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle donated $100,000 to help launch the Clean and Green initiative. The Mayor asked others to donate if they are able. 

Wheeler said he expects Portland will receive nearly $200 million from the American Rescue Plan.

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