Small business owners brace for more destructive demonstrations

Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mayor Ted Wheeler allowed Portland’s “State of Emergency to expire at noon Monday but some local business owners are concerned about the possibility of more destruction that often comes with “autonomous demonstrations.”

Portland Police declared a riot last Friday after demonstrators broke the windows of the Nob Hill Starbucks in Northwest Portland.

Witnesses said they saw some people chase after a man who ran into the McMenamins Rams Head pub. A host stand was knocked over and they also spray painted a window.

The owners of Ram’s Head said they were, fortunately, able to lock up their doors after people ran in and got their last customer out around 10:20 p.m.

Police said someone also launched a rock through the window of someone’s home when they saw the resident was recording them.

Northwest Portland restaurant Marrakesh was also tagged with graffiti.

Folks who participate in these demonstrations often advocate for abolishing police, prisons and hierarchal structures. Marches were commonplace last year but have picked up following police shootings across the country and in Portland. The most recent outrage broke out after Portland Police Officer Zachary DeLong fatally shot Robert Delgado, a houseless man in Lents Park.

Jennifer Heckman, who owns Hip Hound on 23rd Avenue said she is worried more destruction will devastate the area.

“It’s super scary,” she said. “You don’t know where they’re really gonna hit … obviously if places are boarded and tagged all over, that’s not attractive for people to be walking around.”

Heckman said she supports “peaceful protests,” but not destruction or vandalism. She said she worries that 23rd will be like downtown Portland.

“As it did downtown, it just shut down businesses and it’s just devastating,” she said. “The restaurants, everything. It’s what makes Portland, Portland.”

Portland Police Sgt. Kevin Allen said that while the bureau encourages free speech, they are concerned that some people “exploit events to commit more crimes.”

“Our staffing issues have made it extraordinarily difficult to deal with large-scale crowd events, especially where there is a lot of criminal activity happening,” he said. “Our numbers are lower than they’ve been in decades.”

Beyond just businesses, Allen said people’s safety were at risk last Friday.

“We always fear a member of the public who may not have the protective gear that we have will be injured by such a thing,” he said. “And when you’re throwing objects through windows, there’s another concern there because you’ve got the broken glass.”

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