PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A suspicious package that caused Portland City Hall to be evacuated on Monday morning was deemed to not be a threat.
Portland police said the Explosive Disposal Unit was on scene for around 3 hours, using robots and other tools to investigate the package. The building resumed normal operations after 1 p.m.
Lt. Tina Jones didn’t say who found the package or why it was suspicious.
Some businesses in the area were also evacuated and nearby streets were blocked off.
Wheeler: These threats take a toll on city workers
Mayor Ted Wheeler said he was in a regularly scheduled staff meeting when he heard about the threat. His security chief told him they were in a “shelter-in-place” mode and then they were told to evacuate.
“It’s certainly disconcerting for everyone who works at City Hall,” Wheeler said. “The situation this morning may or may not have been a threat, but it certainly adds to the concern about people coming here to do their jobs.”
He said there was bomb threat 2 weeks ago that was phoned in but this incident was a suspicious package that building security found and the cumulative effect “takes a toll” on all who work there.
“Our building security and Portland police take these very seriously,” he said. “They’re always evaluating threats.”
“We get a lot of calls from people that are threatening,” but those who work at City Hall “are just ordinary folks trying to get through their day doing their jobs.”
He said he understands that City Hall employees here and around the country may be thinking that “working in the public sector is getting a little more dangerous….they shouldn’t have to work under these kind of threats.”
PPB is still investigating the phoned-in bomb threat from 2 weeks ago and they will continue to investigate this incident, Wheeler said.
“Since the June 29 demonstration with a very prominent right wing journalist being attacked and having that show up on YouTube and go 3 times around the planet, all of our offices have seen increased emails, increased calls, increased letters,” Wheeler said. “And a lot of it has been frankly hate-ridden, sexist, racist, and in many cases violent.”
He added he worries this and other similar threats will turn off people from wanting to work in the public sector. “I believe our building security is tops…Today we decided to evacuate the building, which was the sensible thing to do.”
Fish worries about spawning copycats
Last week, a bomb threat was called into City Hall but the building was deemed safe within an hour. City Commissioner Nick Fish told KOIN 6 News he is frustrated about the disruption.
“When does this stop?This can not be the new normal. This can not be how we operate in a Democratic system, we should be able to have big differences of opinion but settle them in a peaceful, respectful way,” he said.
Fish said he’s made adjustments in his life because of threats but still considers “it an enormous privilege to be in public life. But I worry about people thinking about doing these kind of jobs, thinking, ‘Do I really want to put my own personal safety at risk, my family at risk and other things?'”
The commissioner said he also worries these kind of incidents get too much attention. “We may end up spawning copycats.”
“I just don’t want to raise the profile too much for this because I don’t want every knucklehead out there to think they can pick up the phone or send a package and essentially paralyze local government,” Fish told KOIN 6 News.