PORTLAND, Ore. – Demonstrators gathered in front of Columbia Sportswear’s flagship store in downtown Portland to protest the city’s no-sit policy.
Signs in front of the store read “This sidewalk is for pedestrian movement only. Please keep clear.”
Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle recently wrote a guest opinion piece in The Oregonian, saying he’s contemplating relocating the Sorel headquarters from downtown. Boyle said some of his employees don’t feel safe coming to and from work.
Organizers of Saturday’s protest said the city’s response of an increased police presence in downtown is not acceptable.
“We think it’s disgusting that a CEO that happened to give so much money to Ted Wheeler’s campaign can write an op-ed and instantly these signs go up that no one is allowed to sit in front of his business,” said Portland's Resistance founder Gregory McKelvey. “We shouldn't be criminalizing things houseless people need to do to survive.”
In a statement released Saturday morning, Mayor Ted Wheeler said, “It’s irresponsible to conflate homelessness and crime. We can address safety issues with common sense enforcement. We can address homelessness with compassion. That’s our plan.”
The downtown Columbia Sportswear store was closed on Saturday with no explanation provided.
McKelvey said Portland’s Resistance plans to protest every Saturday until the city’s response changes.