PORTLAND, Oregon — A new outdoor plaza created by local businesses in the Kenton neighborhood became the focus of some vandals at a protest Saturday night. Some in the group gathered large wooden partitions and some cafe tables that were part of the Denver Ave. Plaza, and lit them on fire.
The plaza is a two-block section of closed roadway that was turned into outdoor seating and strolling. The Kenton Business Association applied for and received a Healthy Business permit for the plaza through the PBOT’s Safe Streets Initiative. KGW featured the plaza set up less than a week ago.
But Saturday night the street wasn’t as safe, and some within the business community blame police more than protesters for that.
“I judge that the activity of the police and pushing them down into this neighborhood was a really bad call,” said David Fredrickson, who saw some of what transpired. Fredrickson owns Figure Plant, a design and fabrication firm nearby. He was instrumental in designing the plaza. Yet he feels the damage done to it is far less significant than the damage Black Lives Matter protests seek to end.
“It’s come really close to home in my neighborhood, for me in my neighborhood, for businesses that I’m trying to support. But it comes nowhere close to if I’d lost a son or a daughter or a mother or a father,” said Fredrickson.
Longtime Kenton resident Michael Morrill had a different perspective about the protesters’ actions on North Denver Avenue. He lives in an apartment above the businesses on the plaza and called what he saw a riot.
“What I saw last night was violence; these people did not care about property,” said Morrill., who added, “Talk. Work your problems out, and vote. If you don’t like what’s happening vote them out, vote for change, that’s democracy.”
Maureen Bachmann is the president of the Kenton Business Association. She says the group fully backs the Black Lives Matter movement. She’s also impressed with how the community came together Sunday morning.
“It hurts my heart to see what happened last night but it absolutely fills my soul to see our community come out and before most of us could even get down on the street this morning you could almost not tell it happened last night, said Bachmann.
Meanwhile, the general manager of a café along North Denver which had a large recycling dumpster burned and melted, said protests can go too far, affecting businesses that are already struggling.
“It could have been worse you know,” said of Poshines Café De La Soul.
“But the whole point of it is that stuff costs money and we come into the place where we’re in a pandemic currently and we’re trying to do the best can as a community; These kinds of things can take a toll on some people if we’re not careful., so we just have to be wise.”