‘Depressing on many levels’: Oregon Historical Society, First Christian Church vandalized for second time

Police declared a riot Friday night once a crowd started smashing windows throughout downtown Portland.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Businesses and a church picked up the pieces Saturday after a violent night in downtown Portland.

A group of about 100 people gathered at Salmon Street Springs and ended up at the downtown Justice Center. Police said the group was peaceful. They did not require police contact and dispersed on their own.

A separate group of about 100 people gathered at Director Park and started marching at around 9:30 p.m. That’s when the destruction started. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) said people set multiple fires at various locations. PPB declared a riot once the crowd started smashing windows throughout downtown Portland.

Saturday morning, the people at First Christian Church on Southwest Park Avenue were picking up the pieces of glass and putting up plywood to cover damage to their windows. The church, which provides meals to thousands in need, put up signs including one that said “Love one another” on their broken windows.

Lead pastor Cynthia McBride said the messages embody the church’s mission of love and unity. She doesn’t believe the church was specifically targeted.

“Sometimes when windows are broken in a riot, it’s not a specific statement by one individual,” said McBride. “It’s more people who seem to be caught up in the angst of the moment.”

This is the second time First Christian Church has been damaged in the last year. The cost of the repairs add to the struggle the church already faces in the pandemic.

“I felt frustrated because even the effort of putting plywood and having to repair windows again takes funding away from the important work we do to feed the vulnerable,” said McBride.

Not far from the church, the Oregon Historical Society was also damaged and had their windows smashed for the second time in a year.

“Here we are again, it is depressing on many levels,” said Kerry Tymchuk, the museum’s director. He says after the last time, they reinforced doors and windows to help keep people out.

“We invested in windows that were impenetrable so they weren’t able to get in as they did last time and throw flares in to the building or steal things, which they did last time.” He said fixing the damage will cost several thousand dollars.

The museum and church will both remain open. And they both believe there has to be a better way to solve problems in our community other than violence.

“If history teaches us anything, it’s that vandalism and violence or not the answer,” said Tymchuk. “Talking in conversation, working together is the answer.”

McBride added, “We need to find a better way to move forward together, to resolve injustices and to do so without violence.”

Police say three people involved in the riot were arrested, booked and charged.

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