By Jack Rubinger
The vandalism, graffiti and other destructive activities that took place in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving on Hawthorne Blvd. had messages about issues facing indigenous peoples. That morning, the community was greeted with the graphic message, “F*** UR ThanksGiving.”
Roger Jones from the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association (HBBA) believes this was a highly organized direct action that violated community standards.
“These people were taking their aggression out on an innocent business district,” he said.
HBBA’s mission is to promote the idea that Hawthorne is a great place to work, shop and live and they responded by helping with the cleanup. Following the incident, the community showed great resilience and hard work cleaning up graffiti and property damage done to the 35-40 small businesses.
Security cameras captured activity in the wee hours of the morning and the footage was supplied to the police. Three of the 20+ perpetrators were arrested and released the same day.
Charges were dismissed by the Multnomah County District Attorney despite the plethora of damage to windows and glass which was primarily restricted to banks and big corporations on Hawthorne, i.e. Fred Meyer, New Seasons and all of the banks.
Bill Levesque, HBBA president, stated that it is important to understand this incident in the context of 2020.
“We need to have accountability for damages done to our businesses, Levesque said, “but this is also an opportunity to bring people together. As a district, we are developing a cultural values statement. We hope this effort will give voice to the kindness of the people in our neighborhood and provide a framework for celebrating our diverse cultures throughout each year.”
Pam Coven from Imelda’s at 3426 SE Hawthorne Blvd., had her front door repaired just before these incidents occurred, had this to say:
“It felt like a kick in the head. I don’t get biting the hand that feeds you, especially when we employ people who live in the neighborhood.”
Coven added that what she loves about the Hawthorne area is that the community has been very supportive and were able to get repairs underway quickly.
“We’re all curious about what the Multnomah County District Attorney plans to do to help deal with these types of crimes,” she added.
According to Brent Weisberg, communications director for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, there’s a neighborhood unit called the Strategic Prosecution and Services Unit, which works with precinct offices to investigate and take action on high level crimes with repeat occurrences.
This unit is leading the effort into investigations of property damage on Hawthorne Blvd.
While the damages were quickly repaired and small businesses continue to serve the community, graffiti doesn’t seem to be going away, whether it’s driven by a particular group or an issue.
Still, the community spirit is strong. Developing a cultural values statement is an excellent way to kick off the New Year as we see a new administration that promises unity, ownership and cooperation.
For more information from the DA’s office, contact Weisberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit William Levesque