Destruction marks anniversary of Portland activist's death
Protesters marked the anniversary of the unsolved death of a prominent Portland activist with broken glass, fireworks, flares, charred flags and graffiti in downtown Portland.
It was two years ago that Sean Kealiher — who once anonymously published a 'zine titled "Why Break Windows?" — was killed in a vehicular homicide outside a lefty bar in Northeast Portland.
On Tuesday, Oct. 12, a crowd of at least 100 gathered outside the Multnomah County Justice Center for speeches, slathering the walled-up facade of the jail and police HQ with slogans including, "Rage against state oppression" and, in all-caps red letters "Armeanio," a reference to one of Kealiher's aliases.
Busted-out windows were visible on three sides of the First & Main office tower directly behind the Justice Center, with affected tenants including Starbucks, a post office and several vacant storefronts. Other broken glass could be seen along the One World Trade Center frontage on 2nd Avenue.
Officials say at least 35 separate locations were targeted, with the damage estimated at more than $500,000 so far.
"I'm concerned about the brazen criminal acts that took place downtown last night," said Police Chief Chuck Lovell.
The destruction continued at a nearby Nordstrom Rack and the Bank of America tower, where even second-story windows had been smashed, as well as at Smile Direct Club, the Moda Tower vestibule, a TriMet bus shelter, the DarSalam restaurant, the Muji department store, a T-Mobile cell phone shop, and a eyewear business. Fresh graffiti was too numerous to count.
"The only good cop is a dead cop," read one painted scrawl.
Portland Police Bureau officials says the bulk of the destruction happened over a 10 minute period. A video posted online showed an amplified sound truck ordering the black-clad band known as antifa to disperse and warning that parts of downtown Portland were under video surveillance.
"The Bureau will investigate the crimes committed tonight and will make arrests either tonight or in the future," said the officer. "Stop damaging property and leave the area immediately."
A large trash fire was set outside the Meier & Frank Building.
"Trying to make a big withdrawal," said a man smoking a cigarette outside the smashed front of a Washington Federal bank.
Sean Kealiher, 23, was fatally run over after an altercation broke out near the defunct Cider Riot! bar; one of Kealiher's friends opened fire, and the vehicle that struck Kealiher was recovered after it crashed at the scene.
Mother Laura Kealiher, who organized the anniversary gathering, is convinced authorities know who killed Sean but have buried the case file because they don't like her son's anti-police politics. Laura Kealiher has even gone so far as to name two men she believes are responsible, though court records show they have not been charged with any crime.
One online media outlet, The Intercept, has even sued in a bid to force local police to turn over more of their Kealiher files — though it's a long-shot, given that public records can generally be withheld as long as police say the case is active.
More recently, well-known local journalist Sergio Olmos has probed the death of Sean Kealiher in a new podcast series dubbed "Dying for a Fight," which is produced by Sony and Oregon Public Broadcasting.
In the fifth episode, Portland Police Commander Jeff Bell appears to throw some cold water on the idea that police have slow-walked the investigation on purpose, saying homicide detectives "had zero relationship with" Kealiher before his death and aren't holding a grudge.
"I guarantee you, there is someone and maybe more than someone who knows who did this. They have not come forward," said Bell. "And I think it's safe to say that our relationship with the community that, you know, (Kealiher) belonged to — is not a positive relationship."
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story referred inaccurately to this incident, which is being investigated as a homicide.
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