PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Early Saturday morning, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler declared a State of Emergency in the city and imposed an 8 p.m. curfew after demonstrations over the death of George Floyd turned destructive and police declared a riot. A short time later, Wheeler walked through the city alongside journalists to assess the widespread damage. Businesses that were already struggling to survive through a pandemic are now faced with the added challenge of cleaning up the damage.
KOIN 6 News spoke with business owners who said they haven’t been open since the pandemic started. On Saturday, some of those same businesses were cleaning up broken glass and graffiti after downtown Portland was vandalized, tagged, and torched overnight.
“They left glass shards everywhere, so we have to clean that up and trying to fix everything right in front of the window display,” said one employee who works at the 4th Avenue Smoke Shop and convenience store.
Teams from Downtown Portland Clean and Safe, Central City Concern, as well as private owners and building managers, were out sweeping up broken glass and boarding up multiple businesses, including the Apple store where people tagged “I can’t breathe” on the windows. Mitch Miguel, who works in facility maintenance for several downtown buildings, boarded up about six businesses after rioters cleared out the neighborhood.
“We work down here, trying to make the city a better place for the citizens to live and work, and these people take it from us,” said Miguel. “I can’t believe what they did. This wasn’t justice—it was plain criminal.”
The Portland Business Alliance released photos of the clean up, as well as a statement on the aftermath of the riot.
“We as a community stand together in support of peaceful demonstrations that call out the systemic hate in any city. We condemn those who choose violence or to take advantage and loot and riot, especially under the devastating economic conditions we all face.“
After last night’s events, Wheeler took a walk through the city to survey the damage. He said city leaders are working on supporting small businesses.
“The city is helping board and clean up the graffiti,” said Wheeler. “Then there is the legal process, the people who committed these acts of vandalism, and we will prosecute to the best of our ability.”
“Violence is never the answer, we need to rise up,” said Wheeler.
Portland police said it was too early to say how much damage was done, in total. The clean-up process continued through the day Saturday.