PDX Dispatch 8.24.22: Crappy Campers, Crazy Coppers, Big Brother

With the economic ruin of Covid lockdowns and Portland’s Racial Reckoning entering its third year, and with homelessness near high tide, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is banning camping along routes schoolchildren use to walk to school. Advocates for “those experiencing homelessness” are objecting, of course. Wheeler’s action extended an emergency decree last February banning camping near high traffic streets because homeless people were wandering into traffic. Advocates objected to that as well, just as they object to any limitations, including camping in school zones.

Whether out of timidity or realism Wheeler seems to be carefully picking his fights with the radical left over homelessness, with these tepid moves to take back the streets on behalf of the traditional concerns of local business and the liberal or apolitical majority. With media help, “mainstream” complicity and cowardice, and no opposition party, Portland’s radicals punch far above their weight, and they coalesce immediately around any challenge on a given front, homelessness, police abolition, the Indigenous; after racial demagogy on behalf of Blacks! the “homeless industrial complex” is probably the most profitable and effective faction among the activist complex.

Nonetheless the city has swept some encampments this year and there appear to be slightly fewer homeless people downtown. Traffic in the city center is up, according to a local business survey being touted a little too loudly, but the area remains a shell of itself and businesses continue to move out. The media still characterizes all this mostly as our “anemic” recovery from the pandemic lagging the rest of the nation, but it’s getting harder to blame the virus the farther we get away from lockdowns.

In Portland it’s difficult to disentangle where the damage of severe lockdowns–the state boasts of having gone farther than most states–and the damage of the Racial Reckoning lay. Businesses that went remote or left downtown due to the Covid lockdown, often didn’t come back because of the BLM riots, and still aren’t coming back in the current tyranny of disorder ensuing from police de-funding, indulgence of the homeless and the radicals’ capture of the District Attorney’s office.

Portland’s downtown is less than half as active as it was in 2019, according to a new study that uses cellphone data to measure people moving around urban centers.

The study finds that activity has actually diminished since last fall and that Portland ranks near the bottom of 62 downtowns across the country. Only San Francisco and Cleveland fared worse.

“Downtown (Portland) went through a trauma that many other downtowns shared. But this one was deeper, and will take longer to recover,” said John Tapogna, policy adviser to Portland economic research firm ECONorthwest. He didn’t participate in the new report, but its findings mirror the results of a similar survey Tapogna helped conduct last winter.

Researchers with the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, conducted the latest study. It used GPS location data from 18 million smartphones to track how often they visited various locales around North America, then compared that activity to 2019.

Recent activity in downtown Portland is just 42% of what it was in 2019, according to the study. The biggest recoveries were in small and modestly sized cities, led by Salt Lake City, Bakersfield, Fresno and in Columbus, Ohio.

Cities less affected by the Racial Reckoning, for one thing. Not yet reckoned with.

The study notes that every downtown in North America struggled during the pandemic, as public health measures shut down restaurants and theaters and people switched to remote work.

Portland’s issues were especially acute.

Months of downtown protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, attracting scorn from former President Donald Trump and confrontations between Portland protestors and federal officers. Homelessness soared and homicides spiked and sporadic vandalism plagued downtown businesses for months.

The homeless are a boon to the anarchist left, just as Black! mayhem is, and they tie-in to another favorite cause, mental health which, as antifa graffiti reminds us, is Not a Crime. Many tax dollars are captured catering to the seemingly endless caravan of the “houseless population”.

City commissioner Dan Ryan’s Save Rest Villages project seeks to put homeless people up in tiny shacks. There’s one near me supposedly operational for months but showing no signs of life when I pass–though the tiny camp of outhouse-sized structures is hidden mostly behind a fence, where it rests in an uninviting little armpit between two highways.

The camps resemble in design the infamous “antifa camp” off the freeway on Portland’s industrial east side, but smaller. That camp was built to house homeless during the “Covid outbreak” and at least a few antifa goons got beds there, probably through a sympathizer in the program; more interesting to me is the extent to which the Covid camps were maybe designed to be precursors to the Safe Rest program.

Another Safe Rest style camp predating the current program, near the city’s train station in an area that was distressed long before the current crisis, was recently shut down due to the prevalence of gunfire around it.

Ryan is not a bona fide radical. A soft-spoken (with a hint of arrogance) gay political novice taking office just before 2020 radicalized the city, whose chosen issue was education, he comes off as an earnest and naive true believer. He’s been on the other side of Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and her more radical goals more than once, and represents what goes as a moderate here, still willing to listen to traditional concerns from, say, business interests–but notably not so much the voters: the Safe Rest Villages program is being implemented with the usual disdain for the taxpayers living near them.

But the program is viewed with suspicion from the homeless industrial complex also, with, among other things, its requirements–no drugs, curfews for residents (the main reason they’re likely to fail, unless and until activists manage to eliminate them)–and restrictions on camping around them; above all I suspect they’ll resist any program they don’t control. The Safe Rest villages will have to be wrested from the city or wrecked.

Ryan has been accused of seeing the camps as helping law enforcement when he said at a community meeting it would give police more options for getting people off the streets–the implication radicals drew being that the villages would be offered in lieu of jail.

Into this comes the mysterious and sinister-sounding Built for Zero “national movement” and its strategy of putting every single homeless person on on a list:

Built for Zero brings community partners together to pool information from those living on the streets. They take this information to help identify trends in that community and disseminate resources accordingly.Federal funds cover $2M in outstanding water bills for Washington County residents

The director of Built for Zero, Beth Sandor, says those investments should ultimately help reduce the number of homeless over time.

“Are we moving the needle? Are there fewer people experiencing homelessness this month than last month? That is what all of our programs and investments should be adding up to,” said Sandor.

City Commissioner Dan Ryan says the goal of the program in Portland is to help people move into housing.

Portland, Gresham and Multnomah County joined the initiative last year…

The by name list is supposed to be a comprehensive list of everyone in the community experiencing homelessness that’s updated monthly.

She said in order to address the problem we need that information to understand who is seeking help and what exactly they need.

I will learn more about this program.

Perhaps our homeless are on the cutting edge of a new order: sleep in the pod, eat the bugs, get on the list.

Officer Drama

You can rest assured the diversification of Portland’s police force was already well advanced when Derek Chauvin took his fatal knee, and the results for law and order we’ll never see quantified (though we’ll see them in action); but this anecdote is not promising:

Reyna filed suit in October 2020 against the city of Portland, seeking certain records related to internal affairs investigations of nine specified PPB officers. Attorneys for Reyna and the city agreed that parts of those records were subject to disclosure and parts were exempt from disclosure.

Reyna, who was the first female and openly gay member of PPB’s Special Emergency Reaction Team, retired in 2019. She had filed a complaint against her ex-wife, also a PPB officer, and argued the bureau did not fairly investigate complaints she filed while overzealously investigating complaints against her. She wanted to examine the public portions of internal affairs complaints made against former colleagues for comparison.

Her effort launched a complex legal battle.

I’m not against complex legal battles per se–they might address genuine public concerns. But I’m pretty sure it’s one of the last things a law enforcement agency is looking for out of its officers–unless it’s complex legal battles using creative strategies to put away baddies. I don’t look for that kind of talent and initiative from our new diversity hires (Globocops)–not because I’m a racist (I am) but where would they find the time with all the personal drama?

Here’s the city’s description of SERT:

SERT responds to incidents such as barricaded suspects, hostage events, active shooters, block searches for armed suspects, high-risk arrest or search warrants service, terrorist acts, and other events requiring resources beyond the capability of a typical patrol response.  SERT also provides dignitary protection and plays an integral part in providing tactical and medical support to civil disturbance incidents.  All team responses are tiered based on the level of tactical support required. Not all missions require a full team response.

Well she no doubt has plenty of experience with chaos. As will we in the days to come.

5 thoughts on “PDX Dispatch 8.24.22: Crappy Campers, Crazy Coppers, Big Brother

  1. Thanks for this informative article. I’m amazed at the amount of effort and resources that are going into dealing with anti-social behavior – of all kinds. It’s like a large outdoor madhouse. I also got this impression while working in DC last summer, although the anti-social group was about 99% black. Now that Texas and Arizona are busing hispanic immigrants into DC the city admin and multiple NGOs are having a hard time because the dominant blacks (from the mayor on down) sure as hell have zero interest in privileging and fussing over another group. And these hispanics appear to be socially well-adjusted by comparison. More upside down lunacy.


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