Old Town voices concerns: ‘Portland unsafe, collapsing’

Civic Affairs

Wednesday afternoon meeting discussed violence, homeless, garbage

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s no secret there have been issues in Old Town over the last few weeks and months — garbage, vandalism, tents lining several blocks and a recent spate of violent crimes.

That issue came up during the Old Town Community Association meeting Wednesday afternoon.

At the end of June a woman staying in an Old Town hotel was attacked. A 44-year-old woman was arrested for allegedly chasing the the victim as she walked down the street, grabbed her by the hair, threw her down, kicked her and stabbed her with a nail file.

Last week two women and a 6-year-old boy visiting from Tacoma were attacked in broad daylight by a woman armed with a machete and an axe while they waited in line for pizza.

The suspect tried to grab the boy but bystanders kept her away, police said.

There have also been numerous shootings in the neighborhood.

At the meeting Wednesday, Aisha Musa said, “Literally in the last couple of months I’ve called 911 to report gun fire more often than I’ve ever called 911 in my entire life.”

Jessie Burke, the chair of the Old Town Community Association and the owner of the Society Hotel said what’s happening in Old Town is also happening elsewhere.

Jessie Burke, the chair of the Old Town Community Association and the owner of the Society Hotel, September 1, 2021 (KOIN)

“Where we are, and I know a lot of other neighborhoods, too, it’s like it’s collapsing and unsafe in a way that Portland has not seen, I don’t think, at least in my 20 years here,” Burke said.

She said they’ve had ongoing issues with homelessness and mental illness but the spike in gun violence is most concerning.

On August 22, a man was shot and killed inside Mingle Lounge. Then, hours later, 5 people attending a vigil for him were shot.

Burke said the gun violence got worse after funding for police and other public safety programs were cut and she said people need to come together to fight for Portland.

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