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Food cart owners: ICE protesters led us to close our doors
Julie and Scott Hakes each say they were homeless for a time in their lives. That's why, last April, the couple decided to start Operation Off the Grid, a non-profit they said that's dedicated to providing food, clothes and hygienic tools to the less fortunate.
"Both of us have had time on the streets," Julie said, "and we know how hard it is."
In order to fund their non-profit, the couple opened The Happy Camper Food and Coffee Bar, a food cart located in Southwest Portland. The cart's mission mirrored the couple's non-profit goals.
"I don't care who they are," Julie said. "I'm going to feed anyone that comes up."
About five weeks ago, though, Julie and Scott said people stopped showing up. Business dropped 80 percent, according to the Hakes. Scott said they made only $20 on one day.
Now they're shutting their doors.
The couple said they, their 21-year-old daughter, and customers have been harassed by protesters outside the ICE facility in Southwest Portland for over five weeks. Their last day of business was Friday.
The daily worry wasn't worth it anymore, Scott said, adding that they plan to sell their cart for a lot less than what they bought it for.
"We're willing to take a loss to move forward," he said.
The tension between the food cart and the protesters, according to Scott, started after a protester got on a megaphone and accused his daughter and a customer of laughing at the protesters and "making a mockery."
"And boom, away it went," Scott said. "We were on the No. 1 hit list from that point on."
The Hakes said they took videos of the ongoing, alleged harassment and reported it to Portland police. A spokesman for the department said a report of a threat against the food cart owners was made around noon on June 27, 2018.
"The Police Bureau takes all reports of harm directed towards community members and their property seriously and will investigate those incidents," the spokesman said in a statement.
KOIN 6 News also reached out to the Mayor Ted Wheeler's Office but didn't hear back at the time of publication.
The harassment didn't end their, according to the Hakes. Scott said he attempted to reason with protesters, saying it's their philosophy to serve the less fortunate and anyone that comes to their door. He said they didn't listen.
Scott said the final straw broke when, after weeks of alleged harassment, he got a call from his daughter. She was crying.
"(I said) shut the doors," Scott said. "We're done."
Though the Happy Camper's doors are closed, Scott said Operation Off the Grid will go on.
"Nothing is going to stop that," he said.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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