Tensions among street kids and food cart owners force big change - KPTV - FOX 12

Tensions among street kids and food cart owners force big changes in business

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Tensions between food cart owners and a group of street kids in downtown Portland is forcing big changes in the way some do business.

It all came to a head back in December, when more than a dozen homeless youth faced off with owners using brass knuckles and knives at the lot on SW 3rd and Stark.

The December fight broke out after cart owners accused the group of street kids of stealing from them.

Police say seven teens were arrested and later released. Since then, some food cart owners decided to move,or simply close altogether.

"They're still out there doing the same old thing," said Lefty of Nikki and Lefty's.

Lefty was one of three owners involved in the brawl. He says after the fight, they decided to temporarily close down. The hope was that tensions would ease over time, but he says they didn't.

"I just picked up the cart and moved. I gave my 30-day notice to the city and moved," Lefty said.

His cart's new home is on SE 2nd and Oak. There's security cameras up and running 24-7 - and no street kids in sight.

Lefty says while he's moved on, some of his colleagues were too traumatized by the vicious brawl to stay open.

"The Persian Plate also left, they didn't feel very safe, and I think they took it as a sign not to open," said Lefty.

"I've talked to a few people who are still down on 3rd, and they actually said there's a new group of street kids in the area, and that they are a lot more hard-core."

When FOX 12 asked other cart owners about the situation, some say things have gotten better since the owners that decided to fight back moved away from the pod.

Those owners, who did not want to be identified, said that if you show the street kids respect, they'll leave you alone.

Others say things haven't changed at all, and the street kids are still stealing from them all the time.

Those owners also asked FOX 12 not to be identified, for fear that could trigger new attacks.

Portland police say they maintain a constant presence in the area and respond to calls as needed.

The bureau says they were unaware of any new reports of thefts within the pod, but said they would investigate anything that was formally reported.

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