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Ted Wheeler's condominium lobby had security guards, so some protesters target the dentist, others stop them.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Eli Shemali outside the business he co-owns, Pearl District Dental. Glass was broken and small fires set by a crowd protesting Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who lives on an upper floor of the building. Shemali says he supports Black Lives Matter but says setting fires in a residential tower crosses a line. Shemali said damage inside was minimal, and he was grateful that police and other protesters helped limit the damage.

A business owner whose office was damaged by rioters Monday night, August 31, said he still backs the Black Lives Matter cause, but he thinks Portland's late night vandalism has gone too far.

Eli Shemali, co-owner of Pearl District Dental, which is on the first floor of the residential tower where Mayor Ted Wheeler lives, told the Portland Tribune Tuesday morning

"I support the (Black Lives Matter) message 100% but when people try to set fire in a high rise building, you clearly have to draw the line. There's 300 residential units in here. Potentially people could have lost their lives, and I don't think any protesters want that."

Black Lives Matter protesters met nearby at the North Park Blocks then protested outside Wheeler's condo building Monday evening, which was the mayor's 58th birthday. Wheeler's apartment building's lobby was protected by two security guards but according to Shemali, some people broke the glass door to Pearl District Dental and went inside. He said they tried to start a fire by burning some dried plants and paper towels near the entryway, shot off fireworks and rifled through the back office, trying and failing to remove the server. He said they did not take any dentist equipment.

"I heard they were stopped by the police and some of the protesters also intervened," Shemali said.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Pearl District Dental, which is in Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's condo building, suffered some damage from fireworks and ransacking Monday night August 31. The business co-owner ElLi Shemali said damage inside was minimal, and he was grateful that police and other protesters helped limit the damage.

Wheeler's building has been protested at least twice before during the summer of 2020. On June 17, protesters blocked the street for several hours, attempting to set up an autonomous zone. They tagged nearby walls including the epithet "Tear Gas Ted" for the mayor because they said at the time, he allowed the police to use tear gas without restriction. The street was cleared at dawn the next day and the damage was cleaned up by the end of the day.

"I still support the protests, as always, but I think it's getting a little out of hand," added Shemali. "I think the message has gotten lost in the shuffle and I think they've lost direction. At least in the Portland area, the positive aspects of the protests are starting to be outweighed by the negative aspects."

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - A woman cleans up outside Pearl District Dental Tuesday Sept 1, 2020. Glass was broken and there was minor fire damage by a small number from a crowd protesting Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who lives on an upper floor of the building. Shemali says he supports Black Lives Matter but says setting fires in a residential tower crosses a line. Shemali said damage inside was minimal, and he was grateful that police and other protesters helped limit the damage.

Four large glass panels were broken as well as the glass door. While a woman cleaned up broken glass with a shop vac, Shemali spent the morning calling hardware stores and cancelling dental appointments.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSEPH GALLIVAN  - Pearl District Dental, which is in Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's condo building, suffered some damage from fireworks and ransacking Monday night August 31. The business co-owner Eli Shemali said protesters were stopped by police and other protesters, and they did not touch the dental equipment althouthg fireworks burned  the curtain to the surgery. Shemali still backs Black Lives Matters but fears the message is getting lost iin the property damage and fighting.Shemali said he now sees tourists walking around Portland taking photos of property damage caused by protesters and thinks it is a black mark for the city.

"I think a lot of protesters are peaceful, and they want to do the right thing." He speculated that some of them may be on drugs or drunk when the protest turns to property damage.

"We're unfortunate to be on the receiving end of that. Again, the most important thing is, fire in a high rise residential building. There's no room for that. I draw the line at that, despite the protesters' message.


Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
971-204-7874
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