Homeless services at church halted after protest vandalism
A church has indefinitely halted offering homeless services after its doors and windows were vandalized during a downtown protest that was quickly declared a riot.
The Unified Command of state and local police created by Gov. Kate Brown to manage an expected ruckus on election night had little to do Nov. 3.
But the calm didn't last, as around 100 protesters broke off from a Count Every Vote rally at the Portland waterfront on Wednesday evening, Nov. 4 — with some in the crowd smashing windows.
A Starbucks coffee shop, a restaurant and the Wildfang clothing shop were among the storefronts that suffered property damage.
Officials say vandals also broke windows and damaged the doors of St. Andre Bessette Church, 601 W. Burnside St. A church leader told Central Precinct officers that its homeless shelter would halt "for the foreseeable future" because they no longer can secure the property.
The church leader said they previously served several hundred people a day by providing shelter, meals and other services.
"Last night's criminal activity targeting the downtown Portland neighborhood was reprehensible and impacts all Oregonians," said Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese, who leads the Unified Command. "The loss of shelter beds due to violence and vandalism comes at a time when we desperately need safe space for vulnerable individuals to seek refuge from a pandemic and colder, rainier weather. This hurts the community's efforts to get people off the streets and connected to the crucial resources they need."
Even civil rights leaders who typically support the activists affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement paused at the destruction of the church and Wildfang, which is known for its outspoken feminist views.
Zakir Khan, the board chair for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called on protesters to stop attacking small businesses.
"Those windows are really expensive and businesses are already hurting. It's turning people away who actively would support the movement that you need for things like bail funds, mutual aid and other causes," he said on social media. "Instead of empowering small businesses, through breaking their windows, you're empowering the Portland Business Alliance."
If people could stop attacking small businesses that would be helpful. Those windows are really expensive and businesses are already hurting. It's turning people away that actively would support the movement that you need for things like bail funds, mutual aid and other causes.— Zakir Khan (@Muzzakh) November 5, 2020
The Nov. 4 riot saw Oregon National Guard Humvees cruising up and down the waterfront — the first such deployment in 50 years, per the Oregonian. The actions of rioters were condemned by Brown and Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt as well.
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