Portland business says ‘believe it when I see it,’ as mayor promises to cleanup downtown and focus on economic recovery

Updated: Aug. 27, 2020 at 4:45 PM PDT
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Portland Protests
Portland Protests(KPTV Image)

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – As Mayor Ted Wheeler is set to announce a plan for economic recovery for downtown businesses, some are saying the nightly violence from protest and riots has taken a huge toll.

FOX 12 spoke to one liquor store downtown, that didn’t want to be identified for fear it would be targeted in another riot. The store manager, who only wanted to be identified as Jim, says his store was targeted in the riot on May 30th, and it’s been a difficult time ever since.

“It’s been a pretty long, trying three months here,” he said.

He says on May 30th, people damaged property and looted in the amount of tens of thousands of dollars. Now, he says he’s scared that it will happen again.

“Every night when I go home I kind of sleep with one eye open waiting for my phone to ring with alarm services letting us know that we’ve had another break in,” he said.

Even now, he says he and his employees worry for their safety. On multiple occasions, he says he’s closed the store early to ensure his employees could leave without running into violence downtown. One of those instances was on Saturday, when right-wing groups clashed with counter-protesters.

“They actually locked up and hunkered down in the office and waited for it to be quiet out there before they left,” Jim said.

Wednesday night, the mayor announced he would be coming up with a plan to focus on economic recovery for local businesses and ending the nightly violence.

Thursday, Wheeler met with business owners and the Portland Business Alliance to share his vision.

“The mayor and his team proposed a series of funding options, that not only would clean the downtown district, but depending on alignment with his colleagues, could potentially expand to the greater 405 corridor,” said Andrew Hoan, president of the Portland Business Alliance.

But, Jim says he isn’t buying it just yet.

“Believe it when I see it. That’s all I can say on that,” he said.

He says he does hope that downtown Portland can return to what it once was.

“Hopefully he can do the right thing and make the streets in downtown Portland safe for everybody again. Not just for businesses, but for just people. You just don’t see people walking around downtown Portland anymore,” said Jim.

The Portland Business Alliance says that the mayor has also discussed plans to address homelessness downtown, which the group says has greatly increased during the pandemic.

The mayor has said he will release the details of his plan in the coming days.