Last Friday night, federal law enforcement authorities, working side-by-side with their counterparts at the Portland Police Bureau, apprehended a suspect intent on detonating a car bomb just as thousands of Portlanders were attending a tree-lighting celebration in Portland's living room, Pioneer Courthouse Square. The good, patient and persistent work of our law enforcement professionals must not go without our sincere appreciation.
As the justice system moves forward with its work, we Portlanders have a number of important conversations ahead of us.
First, we must ensure that lines of communication with all our communities of color and faith remain open and honest. Last night, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Police Chief Mike Reese and I sat down with more than 50 leaders from Portland-area mosques and the Somali community, business owners, academics, faith leaders and average citizens.
At that meeting, safety and security was a shared priority among all in the room, as evidenced by the apparent arson attack on a mosque in Corvallis over the weekend. Community representatives voiced their trust in the Portland Police Bureau and the working relationship they have with their law enforcement professionals. From the point of view of the Muslim community, it was important to make clear that the acts of one individual do not speak for or represent the beliefs of the Muslim and Somali communities.
Second, we must take a thorough, fact-based approach to deciding whether to rejoin the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Clearly, both elected leaders and regular citizens have questions about what it would mean for Portland, and I am already asking those same questions. As I sit down with the FBI, the ACLU, and other organizations in the coming days, I expect clear and compelling answers to these complex questions. We, your elected officials, will make a decision in the best interest of the city, and based on the due diligence a decision like this demands.
And third, we must continue to live our lives in Portland with all the energy and sincerity that makes Portland a unique city. Retailers downtown are open for business, from the pop-up store to the department store and every store in-between. Even this past weekend, immediately after the events of Friday night came to light, Portlanders in droves were shopping at Pioneer Place and spending time at Pioneer Square.
“Our sales were significantly up this past weekend compared to the same time last year,” reports Downtown Retail Council Chair William Palmer, general manager of Brooks Brothers. “We were excited to see so many people downtown visiting stores and shopping for gifts that you can only find in downtown Portland. The holiday excitement will continue throughout the season with over 50 events at the Square and throughout Downtown."
The Holiday Ale Festival, one of Portland's best craft brewing celebrations, begins tomorrow, Wednesday, December 1 at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Events at the Square and around downtown Portland will continue throughout the Holiday Season, and Portlanders can be confident in the knowledge their city is taking all the necessary steps to ensure their safety and security.
The past several days have been trying for our City and its residents. I look forward to the open and respectful dialogue that is ahead for us.
Mayor, City of Portland