The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) this week finally cleared out a vacant shopping mall in downtown Portland, Oregon that’d reportedly been used as an open-air drug market.
“Dozens of Portland police officers descended Wednesday morning on downtown’s vacant Washington Center retail development, which has turned into an open-air fentanyl market in recent weeks,” The Oregonian reported.
“The mission started at 7:30 a.m., when officers began blocking off the area surrounding the dilapidated property, stretching yellow crime-scene tape from Southwest Third and Alder streets to Harvey Milk and 4th streets,” the paper added.
Disturbing, eerie footage of the cops canvassing the property have been compared to scenes from “The Last of Us,” a post-apocalyptic zombie dystopia.
Like scenes out of The Last of Us, @PortlandPolice finally cleared out the Washington Center building at the heart of downtown’s open-air drug market. Multiple fatal overdoses have happened around the building. #Portland pic.twitter.com/IsX4JlAMdF
— Andy Ngô ️ (@MrAndyNgo) April 13, 2023
Scary scenes from inside the Washington Center building in #Portland. The area around the building had become an open-air drug market in the heart of downtown. Multiple people have died of overdoses in the area. pic.twitter.com/AtyuktmmsP
— Andy Ngô ️ (@MrAndyNgo) April 13, 2023
Speaking with The Oregonian, Ofc. David Baer said his team didn’t find any squatters inside the mall, but noted that the abundance of graffiti, litter, and holes in the wall suggest “there’s definitely been people in here.”
The PPB is now reportedly working with contractors and the property’s owner, Barry Menashe, to board up the property to deter any future drug trafficking.
“[Menashe’s] daughter, Lauren Menashe, who serves as the real-estate company’s principal, was on-site with police Wednesday morning. Lauren Menashe said the company worked with police on the plan to clear out and board up the property, with the construction crew coming in later in the day,” The Oregonian notes.
“Menashe Properties has paid for fencing and boarding the property several times over the past three years without any subsidies from the city, she said, but this attempt, with the help of police, is more thorough,” according to the paper.
“We’re very appreciative of them,” she said of the officers.
Better late than ever. Indeed, on Twitter many critics noted that they’d been complaining or worried about the building for quite some time:
Took them long enough.
— GARC13 (@GArcholekas) April 14, 2023
Been talking about that building for over a year. Hope this isn’t just a short-term publicity stunt. I’m generally not a fan of imminent domain…BUT it’s been used for far less justifiable reasons previously in Oregon.
— gaybros.sol (@any1impulse) April 13, 2023
That said, the geometric makeup of the property has reportedly caused some problems when it comes to properly boarding it up.
“We’ve given them the go-ahead and said, ‘If you want to line up 90-degree corners and box the whole thing out, we would be very supportive of that. Even it required that we’d give up the sidewalks — whatever it takes to secure it,” city official Eric Zimmerman, who was on site Wednesday, reportedly said.
He added that he and other officials would prefer that the property be cordoned off like a construction site rather than continue serving as a drug den for addicts.
The clearing out of the property this Wednesday comes a couple of weeks after Willamette Week, a local outlet, ran a piece detailing the horrible conditions there.
“Washington Center is festering. The chain-link fence that surrounds it is in pieces, with sections flattened to the sidewalk. Trash is piled along the exterior, where people strung out on fentanyl slump against a low brick wall. Dealers sell pills from an alcove on the south side,” the outlet reported.
“It’s the skid row of Portland. I have to walk through all these dealers daily at all hours of the day and night. My goal is not to die in this city. Literally,” an employee who works at a nearby business told the paper.
At the time, Lauren Menashe blamed the city for the property’s decline.
“Lawlessness is the only word I can come up with to describe this once beautiful and thriving area of downtown. Despite our best efforts to maintain the site and any form of order or cleanliness, including boarding up the property and broken windows daily, hiring private security, paying for fencing, weekly outreach to police and city officials, it has proven impossible to keep any and all forms of transients, criminal activity, vandalism and destruction away from this site,” she said.
“Simply put, the condition of this property is a product of shortsighted legislation and has been handcuffed by unmanageable circumstances,” she added.
What she said sounded about right. Like other far-left cities such as Seattle and San Francisco, Portland is stocked with left-wing city council members and prosecutors who believe in being lenient toward criminals, particularly drug offenders.
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