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Downtown draws Portlanders despite flashes of violence

By Austin De Dios | The Oregonian/OregonLive

When a bullet pierced a window of the Portland Spirit earlier this summer, shattered glass sprayed a 71-year-old passenger from Virginia.

What surprised cruise company President Dan Yates more than the stray bullet was the fact that employees seemed relatively unfazed. The passenger didn’t go to the hospital, and no one else was injured during the June 21 incident, Yates said.

“I thought it would really rattle the group, but it didn’t,” Yates said. “It really had almost no effect, which is kind of too bad in a way.”

That kind of response to the periodic flashes of violence in downtown Portland appears to prevail among some residents and business owners.

People who frequent the area near Portland State University, where an alleged assailant beat two elderly men June 25, killing 82-year-old Donald Pierce by pushing and kicking him in the head, say their attitudes about safety are unchanged. This comes even as Mayor Ted Wheeler declared a state of emergency for the entire city due to historic levels of gun violence.

For others, the threat of harm feels more personal following the July 2 bias assault against a Japanese family on the Eastbank Esplanade. In that instance, a man yelled slurs and hit a father and his 5-year-old daughter on the head.

Kristen Higa, a Californian who is Asian, visited Portland this week knowing about the city’s anti-Asian bias crime. Higa’s friends in Los Angeles warned her to be careful, but she found the caution wasn’t necessary, she said.

“Everyone’s super nice here,” Higa said. “Honestly, I feel like they’re more racist towards me in LA.”

Downtown crime statistics for last month, the latest available, show 27 cases of aggravated assault, compared with 33 cases in June 2021. Reports of simple assaults — attacks without a weapon or severe injury — dropped from 71 in June 2021 to 38 last month.

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UPDATE: Measure 110 Compromise in Salem

ACTION ALERT Revitalize Portland encourages all our members to reach out to your elected representatives in Salem TODAY! UPDATED: Legislature holding Public Hearing Monday, 2/26 @ 5pm See the latest


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