Updated 3:53 p.m.
A large right-wing rally and counterdemonstrations Saturday in downtown Portland cost retailers and restaurants an estimated $3 million in lost revenue, according to the city’s largest business group.
That price tag is only likely to grow, the Portland Business Alliance said Wednesday, as employers continue to tally up losses from a day marked by hours of disruption but limited property damage or clashes between political opponents.
The business group said it did not have a detailed breakdown of the cost estimates, which were generated by the city’s Downtown Retail Council.
A snapshot of the economic toll emerged as Mayor Ted Wheeler and other civic leaders called on residents to come to downtown this Saturday to support the area’s businesses and workers.
Wheeler announced there will be free parking on city streets west and east of the Willamette River as well as all Smart Park garages. Visitors will also not have to pay to use the Portland Streetcar or city’s bikeshare program.
Some businesses also plan to offer discounts and other perks, which the Travel Portland website is tracking.
“We’re reclaiming our space from disruption, from the potential of chaos,” Wheeler said during a press conference at Director Park. “Let’s show some love for our community.”
Wheeler previously said he estimates the protests will leave city taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars, primarily for the unprecedented police presence used to maintain the peace.
The Portland Police Bureau drew on local, state and federal law enforcement to provide 700 officers for the day, more than one cop for every two of the estimated 1,200 protest participants.
Some of downtown’s largest retailers — including Starbucks, Nordstrom and the Portland Apple Store — closed in anticipation of right- and left-wing groups converging on the waterfront.
Restaurants and local merchants, from Saturday Market vendors to Salt & Straw’s Wiz Bang Bar, also shuttered as police and city officials warned of prospective violence. Officials, meanwhile, encouraged people to avoid downtown entirely.
Yet the face-off between the right-wing Proud Boys and counterprotesters, including masked anti-fascist activists, or antifa, was relatively uneventful.
The day’s most contentious moments unfolded after the Proud Boys and their supporters mostly left after rallying about 90 minutes. They marched across the closed Hawthorne Bridge while hundreds of counterprotesters remained downtown.
Over the next five hours, droves of left-leaning demonstrators often wandered into the street, sometimes blocking traffic, chanting and beating drums. Others confronted riot police or the stray right-wing activist who waded into the fray.
There were a few minor skirmishes and some smashed windows. According to police, 12 of the 13 arrests made during the demonstrations came while bands of counterprotesters roved the city streets.
In a statement released after the rally, the Proud Boys poked fun at Portland’s mayor, lashed out at left-wing activists and vowed they’d continue to return until the city cracked down counterprotesters.
“The gathering was never about bringing carnage or violence to the City of Portland,” the statement said. “It was about financially crippling the progressive hotbed until they take action against Antifa.”
— Shane Dixon Kavanaugh; 503-294-7632
Email at [email protected]
Follow on Twitter @shanedkavanaugh
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