The disorder that has long dominated the streets of Portland, Oregon reached a new low earlier this month, when Columbia Sportswear, a major retailer headquartered just outside of nearby Beaverton, had to close its flagship store downtown for a day after protestors blocked shoppers from entering. The protestors were reacting to an op-ed by Tim Boyle, Columbia’s CEO, in which he confessed that relocating his company to downtown Portland may have been a mistake, citing the crimes and indecencies his employees have endured, including “daily defecation” by transients in the store’s lobby. Certain repeat offenders of the city’s vagrant population, along with other agitators, have issued death threats and broken into cars; one Columbia employee had to run into moving traffic after a stranger followed her and threatened to kill her.
The situation faced by Columbia Sportswear represents a broader problem facing progressive cities like Portland, which have increasingly tolerated vagrancy and tent cities, pressuring law-enforcement to take a “hands-off” approach to policing homelessness and other social disruptions. While this approach may be kindhearted, residents and businesses shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences. The harassment faced by Columbia Sportswear employees is no outlier; similar abuses have roiled the small-business community across Portland. On Black Friday, Anne Bocci, who owns an upscale art and jewelry boutique that prides itself on not being “a big corporate business,” encountered the same type of terrifying situation when her store was robbed. “He stole from me and he threatened my life, twice,” said Bocci of her assailant—a repeat offender in downtown Portland. She added that, “the police came and then he came back four minutes later after they left.”
Judith Arnell, another jeweler, will be closing her doors after doing business in Portland for over 20 years. “The biggest problem is that the customers feel unsafe, so I can’t afford to save this,” Arnell noted. She also recalled that a surveillance camera caught a man defecating outside of her front door, and that this wasn’t the first time that it had happened.
Business owners recently took their outrage directly to Mayor Wheeler’s administration. Kevin Pilla, owner of the home-goods store Budd and Finn, gave a scathing critique of city government, his store having been broken into just a few nights before. Crime “is literally killing my business,” Pilla announced. “There are no consequences.” Business owners are right to be outraged.
That’s right enough, I suppose. But I have to wonder how many of these put-upon business owners themselves voted, repeatedly, for the Democrat Socialist authors of such wanton destruction in the name of Progressivism—and how many of them continue to cling to their failed ideology even after experiencing its inevitable and predictable results up close and personal.
As with Detroit, my sympathy for these folks is a wee bit, umm, attenuated, shall we say. Some folks like to say that “stupidity should be painful,” and that’s right enough. But the truth is that, sooner or later, it almost always IS. And then stupidity degrades into insanity, as they go on repeating the same mistakes again and again, expecting a different result.