PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - On Friday, Portland police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office announced they plan to boost public safety efforts around election day.
The two agencies say they are working with other partners like Oregon State Police on a place so they don’t see a repeat of what happened in 2016.
In the days after the election in 2016, hundreds of people took the street each night. Some nights police declared a riot as windows were busted out of buildings in downtown, cars in a dealership were damaged, and fires were set in the street.
“One of the issues that we had in 2016 early on was people taking over freeways and bridges and activity that was really unsafe,” Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief Chris Davis said.
In an effort to curb that, the bureau and the sheriff’s office say Portlander’s can expect to see an increased police presence in neighborhoods and on election day at ballot drop sites. They add law enforcement will also be ready to react to any demonstration that may pop up and turn violent.
“There is no problem with coming out and expressing yourself, but what we do ask is that you follow the law," Davis said. "First amendments stop at when you start violating the criminal law."
The downtown Portland core does look a lot different than it did four years ago. Businesses have boarded up their windows for the several months to protect and cover up damage from nightly demonstrations and riots that have happened around the city since March.
“Unfortunately the last week was pretty rough,” business owner Stacey Gibson said.
She has felt the impact of what has been happening in downtown. Her Subway shop has been hit by the economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and by a lack of people downtown because of nightly protests.
"Nobody is coming downtown right now and that is really what it comes down to as we prepare for November and the elections results, I mean, we just don’t know what is going to happen,” Gibson said.
Just Sunday, Gibson says the glass on the front doors of their business were apparently shot out.
“It was gun shots that actually did that, they found the shotgun pellets outside, fortunately it was late at night, nobody was in the store, nobody was hurt, it is just very very frustrating,” Gibson said.
Months and months of frustration and worry over safety have been running though her mind. She, along with other business owners, are preparing for the unknown of election night, but a plan by local law enforcement doesn’t ease her concerns.
“I have no faith at this point and that is scary for me because I always try to be a positive person but I am just broken,” Gibson said.
For her, she says they may be leaving downtown Portland all together saying everything has gotten to be too much.
“We are planning on being boarded up, staying boarded up and being boarded up for the election," Gibson said. "Probably being closed those days just because we don’t know what is going to happen and the safety of the employees is of course the most important thing."
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