PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Late Thursday night, a small group of demonstrators vandalized a small business that works with the city on homeless issues, tagging it with graffiti and smashing windows.
On Friday, Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioner Dan Ryan issued a joint statement condemning the vandalism and vowing to hold the perpetrators responsible.
The damage happened around 10:15 p.m. in the 2700 block of SE Milwaukie Avenue, police said. The vandalism set off Wheeler and Ryan because the business helps clean up biohazards and human waste at homeless camps as a way “to mitigate the spread of virulent diseases, including COVID-19.”
In their statement, they said the “city worked with its partners to open nearly 300 new, COVID-safe, 24-hour shelter spaces. It’s also why the city sometimes must relocate campsites that threaten the safety and health of people living at those sites and other people as well.”
They said city outreach teams worked with campers near Laurelhurst to get them into safe shelter.
“Despite the safe alternatives and the ongoing outreach work, a small number of people remain opposed to relocating the camps at the park. Late last night, that small group vandalized a local small business that works with the city to help manage these complex and challenging problems,” they said.
The company works with the Joint Office of Homeless Services to provide information and supplies, maintains 137 hygiene units in the city and clean up trash daily.
“In fact, people experiencing homelessness request the company assist them with trash and human waste removal,” they said. “Nearly 75% of the company’s staff have similar lived experience to those at campsites.”
Wheeler and Ryan together made one thing clear: “We will do everything in our power to ensure those responsible for this criminal act are apprehended and held accountable.”