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Local leaders react to Friday night George Floyd demonstrations in Portland

As Portland prepares for a night of curfew, leaders are speaking out against Friday night's riots and hoping for a peaceful Saturday night.
Credit: KGW

PORTLAND, Ore — As Portland people and businesses deal with the aftermath of Friday night's riots and prepare for a night of curfew, local leaders are speaking out with react to the demonstrations so far and to express hopes for demonstrations moving forward.

Chief of Portland Fire and Rescue Sara Boone said Friday night's riots were "unlike any [unrest she has] experienced in [her] lifetime in this city."

"Portland Fire & Rescue was put to the test in a night full of emergency calls," said Boone in an email Saturday afternoon. "I want to personally thank every member of Portland Fire & Rescue, including the Rapid Response Team, for their dedication, compassion, professionalism, and courage on every call. I am humbled by your continuous commitment to all communities that make up Portland and I feel these words fall short of how proud I am of the firefighters who braved the frontlines last night."

She said the team's hard work and critical decisions Friday night brought the team members home safely.

"I saw the best of our public safety professionals last night and I could not be prouder to put on my uniform again today," said Boone.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown echoed Boone's statements in a series of tweets Saturday afternoon, and expressed her desire for the Oregon community to "commit ourselves to racial justice."

Governor Brown said racial justice will take hard work, and expressed appreciation for the thousands of Oregonians who "mourned and spoke out for justice together."

Brown also spoke out against the riots that took place Friday night.

"Senseless violence does not honor George Floyd's death or create accountability," said Brown.

Friday night's demonstrations caused a lot of damage to Portland businesses.

The Portland Business Alliance released a statement Saturday afternoon, expressing gratitude to and solidarity with community leaders who began Friday night with a peaceful vigil.

"What happened hours later, in the middle of the night, is simply anarchy," the statement reads. "We reject and condemn those involved with the looting and wanton destruction on the streets of Portland. The rioting that occurred has left us all devastated."

"My heartfelt thanks to all of the cleaning and security teams with Central City Concern and Portland Patrol, Inc. who showed up at first light this morning, helping sweep up the city we love," said Mark Schlesinger, Partner, Schlesinger Companies and chair of the board of directors, Downtown Portland Clean and Safe.

"This is heartbreaking," said Vanessa Sturgeon, chair of the Portland Business Alliance board of directors. "These businesses were already hurting because of the COVID-19 crisis. This is just another blow. This is one of the saddest moments in our city's history."

"To the dedicated people of Downtown Portland Clean and Safe who were out early this morning, removing graffiti, sweeping up broken glass and helping store owners repair the damaged storefronts. We thank you and we're here for you," said Maureen Fisher, Executive Director of Downtown Portland Clean & Safe.

The Portland Business Alliance also stated, if a similar scenario happens Saturday night, the group "call[s] upon our city and state to activate the National Guard to support our Portland Police Bureau at this moment of vulnerability. We need time to repair what damage has been done and be made safe to recover."

Deborah Kafoury, Chair of the Board of Commissioners in Multnomah County, shared a statement on Twitter and in an email to all Multnomah County employees.

Kafoury spoke out against the damage and violence to downtown Portland - including the fire at the Justice Center - but stated that we need to keep our focus on "the historic, systemic and ongoing racism" right now.

"Unless we listen, learn and change as individuals and as a community," said Kafoury. "The risks and threat of white supremacy will continue to exist after the glass has been swept and businesses reopen."

The Portland Trail Blazers also released a statement, expressing frustration over the continued racial injustice in the United States.

"The Trail Blazers organization and players grieve the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless others who have lost their lives in this increasingly familiar manner," the statement reads. "This unprecedented moment has challenged us to not be silent but to use our voices, our time and our energy to be genuine allies to those who endure these injustices directly. Now is the best time to support one another and condemn all prejudice, racism and injustice in our society, country and world. We will continue to utilize our resources to unite and show up in impactful ways."

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