Protesters took their message directly to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on Wednesday, June 17th, blocking street access to his home in the Pearl District. After chanting from the sidewalk while he was on a video conference City Council budget vote meeting during the day, protesters gathered again at Northwest 10th Ave. and Glisan Street around 6 p.m. The crowd grew to several hundred by midnight when they blocked streets with cars and makeshift barricades in four directions around the intersection.
While protest leaders led chants on bullhorns, others shone lasers and flashlights at the building. Some dragged whatever was at hand from several blocks around to block the street. Items included trash bins, planters, newspaper racks, steel car ramps, scaffolding and wooden pallets, and the plywood from the Rite Aid windows at Northwest 10th and Hoyt. They also carried a blue portapotty to the sidewalk outside Beneficial State Bank, whose walls were spray painted with "BLM" and other messages. If police were present they were not obvious.
Portland police declared a civil disturbance and unlawful assembly at 5:30 a.m. and broke up the gathering by 6 a.m. City-financed cleaning crews set to work immediately. By 7 a.m. the barricades were removed. Planters and other items were stored on sidewalks and multiple companies were cleaning off graffiti with solvents and pressure washers. No windows appeared to have been broken. Police said they made one arrest.
Outside Tufenkian Carpets across 10th Avenue, Sona Tadevosian was talking to her husband's uncle who owns the store where she works. Cleaners had removed the word "MATTER" from the glossy wooden doors already, but had not yet removed "BLACK LIVES" from the more matte stonework. She said he had told them to leave it there because they supported the message.
Tadevosian, who lives two blocks away, said she could see and hear the activity from her home the night before and came down in the morning to see what happened.
"I just talked to the owner and he wants the message to stay on," she said, at least for a few more days. "I wouldn't mind a different font," She added with a laugh, referring to the 1970s bubble writing.
She was aware that the City's $27 million budget cuts to the police were less than the $50 million being demanded by protestors and other groups. Tadevosian also wants the graffiti to stay for a while. She personally approves of the cuts, saying she did not like armed police being sent to every 911 call, especially in this neighborhood, and said social workers might be more appropriate.
Eli Shemali, co-owner of Pearl District Dental which is on the first floor of the residential tower, came to work around 7 a.m. "I saw a cleanup crew, apparently there was some pretty massive protests in the area yesterday," he said. He didn't see much besides graffiti. "They cleaned that up really nicely, I'm just glad nobody was hurt." He believed the City called in the cleanup crew at 4 a.m. "Somebody just told me was the mayor was just here looking over the damage and actually participated in the cleanup, so I was pretty impressed by that."
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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