Downtown Portland

Reporting on the situation in downtown Portland has been, in my opinion, skewed toward breathless, whipped up controversy over the past year and a half.

Ten months ago I posted about protests and the – in my opinion – unnecessary and heavy-handed tactics used by the Portland Police Bureau and federal officers against mostly peaceful protesters.

Today, as we watch vaccination rates rise and cautiously anticipate the loosening of restrictions and rebound to our local businesses, there still persists a negative view of downtown Portland. People bemoan the boarded up and graffitied businesses and the homelessness.

Are businesses boarded up? Is there a significant homeless population? Is traffic and business down in the city center? Yes to all of these.

But that hardly justifies the persistent narrative that Portland is “a war zone,” “burning,” “just like Beirut” (how many people making that last comparison have ever been to Beirut?).

Many in the public believe businesses are boarded up due to violent protests and/or increased rates of crime (in the vast majority of cases, those boards went up before the protests as businesses closed due to the pandemic).

Sadly, the news, including our local news, does little to dispel these imaginings with fact. A recent Oregonian front-page story reported a survey where a majority of Portland residents believe the city is in “deep distress.”

Rather than examine the veracity of these views against the facts, the piece mostly focuses on people’s opinions. Only if one reads carefully does one find, about three quarters of the way through the piece, that crime is down:

Crimes against people, though, were actually lower in downtown last year compared to 2019. Assaults were down 13% from 2019 and the rate of reported assaults has continued to decrease over the last four months.

I took my time to drive through downtown just this last weekend. Traffic was light and I saw nothing to make me wary of parking, walking, or doing business downtown.

My brother, David, wrote an opinion piece in response to the Oregonian article. Since it’s been a week without a response, he suspects they will not post it. I encourage you to read it, especially if believe the news you hear about “Portland burning,” etc. and fear to go downtown.

Loftus Opinion: Portland is NOT in “deep distress”

2 thoughts on “Downtown Portland

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