Portland business owners publicly vent frustration at Mayor after years of crime

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Dozens of business owners from Portland’s Central Eastside neighborhood shared their safety concerns with city leaders on Tuesday. They talked about crime — from explosions and trash, to drug use and death threats — things they say are .

“One of our employees on his way into our central kitchen was held up at gunpoint,” said Kim Malek, the co-founder and CEO of Salt & Straw. “A gun in his face as he walked in to make ice cream.”

For two years business owners, including Malek, said they’ve watched as crime, drugs and camping have festered while efforts to speak out about it have led to more angst.

“Several of our business owners have received death threats and so that’s something we take pretty seriously,” said Clare Briglio the executive director of the .

Briglio helped organize Tuesday’s listening session in front of city leaders including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. It’s the result of a collective tipping point among dozens of business owners.

“Businesses have been held hostage for a long time, not being able to speak their own truth and lived experience,” said Briglio.

Like Salt & Straw, Steven Smith Teamaker CEO, Darren Marshall, said he is considering moving his headquarters out of Portland Central Eastside after years of unmitigated crime.

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