Community comes together to clean up riot damage

Cleaning up after the riot

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Cleanup continued in the Pearl District Friday.

What started as a peaceful protest turned into a riot overnight, with some people smashing the glass of several businesses on Northwest Lovejoy Street.

Armed with gloves and brooms, Julie Leahy was ready to help. She grew up in Portland, and wanted to attend the protest Thursday night, but was unable to. However, she said when people start to damage businesses, that crossed a line.

“For most of the people here, today, the message is we do care about our city, and we do care about other people and humanity,” she said.

She met with a group of volunteers this morning. This group didn't participate in the protest, but saw the damage, and came up with a plan to help. Jacob Dahlberg posted about a cleanup event on Facebook, bringing people together.

“I just couldn't believe what I was seeing, and, that didn't remind me of the Portland that I know,” he said.

Other local businesses, some banks, and a Starbucks were boarded up, but still able to open on Friday. Volunteers were there to donate time, cleaning up the glass, and graffiti.

“We're going to donate our time, and material, and product to actually help clean, and help these small businesses get back open so they don't incur the costs,” said Paul Watts with Graffiti Removal Services.

A community determined to work together, and sent its own message at the same time.

“(Rioters) are not accomplishing anything. In fact if they’re accomplishing anything, they're bringing a community together,” said Mary Sipe, with the Pearl District Neighborhood Association.

By mid-afternoon, volunteers had shifted east to Portland’s Lloyd District.

About a dozen people focused their efforts on Oregon’s State Offices and Metro buildings, which were decked out with obscene language and anarchist symbols. One such symbol was spray painted over the Oregon state seal. Volunteers scrubbed it clean.

“I was born & raised here. It tears me apart to see this happen,” said Matthew Quinata. “I'm kind of full of emotion, hard to speak. Tears start to well up and it makes me feel angry.”

Quinata and others brought their own supplies to clean up the damage. Some used acetone to scrub it clean. After more than four hours, Lee Thomson started getting lightheaded.

“I think it’s worth it, and I am seeing progress,” she said.

Thomson had spent much of her day in the Pearl, and to anyone considering protesting in the coming days, she had a message.

“Smashing windows at the Starbucks downtown isn’t going to hurt Mr. Starbuck,” she said. “It’s hurting the guy who owns that particular franchise. That’s not getting a message across. That’s just costing people in our city money and hurting people.”

The group Portland's Resistance started a GoFundMe page to help pay for the damage. The fund has raised more than $27,000 as of Friday afternoon.


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