Portland Business Leaders Slam City Officials for Endorsing Riots

A federal officer clears the street in front of the Hatfield courthouse in Portland / Getty Images
August 28, 2020

Community leaders in Portland are calling out Mayor Ted Wheeler (D.) and other city officials for "endorsing" the riots that have plagued the city for months and caused many local businesses to move or shutter their stores.

"[Businesses'] departure has absolutely nothing to do with Black Lives Matter movement (which has been a positive), but does have most everything to do with the lawlessness you are endorsing downtown," Greg Goodman, who co-owns a real estate agency in Portland, said in an email to the mayor last week. Goodman and Helen Ying, chair of the Old Town Community Association, have both written to city officials condemning their failure to keep businesses and the community safe.

Rioters began vandalizing and looting businesses in Portland in May. Since then, many companies, including Banana Republic, AirB&B, and Standard Insurance, have either closed locations or moved elsewhere, Goodman said. Many local family-owned businesses have remained closed since rioters looted their stores in July.

Portland Business Alliance CEO Andrew Hoan told the Oregonian the city government is failing to fulfill its promise to keep the city safe and clean.

"We're just not seeing the action we need from our elected leaders at all levels of government," Hoan said. "Commitments were made several weeks ago and there’s been a failure to fully act on that plan and put in action toward long-term commitments such as toilets and cleaning stations for those in need and proactive graffiti cleanup and repairs after each night of damage."

Ying, the chair of Portland's Old Town Community Association, told city officials they were disregarding public safety in a letter earlier this month.

"We have seen no government assistance to help relocate people to safer alternatives, no mental health interventions which is so essential for many of the unsheltered, no additional sanitation facilities, and now, no assistance with regard to community safety," Ying said. "We have a humanitarian crisis and we are responding with united efforts as volunteers. Old Town needs you, our government to do the same."

Wheeler told Oregon Public Radio last week he thinks the violence will eventually "burn itself out." A Portland Business Alliance report last month found that 93 local businesses in Portland have suffered nearly $5 million in losses as a result of property damage from riots, which began in late May following the police-involved deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others.