Owners of businesses on a busy downtown boulevard in the Hollywood District of Portland, Oregon, learned Nov. 21 that 27 area buildings had been vandalized.
Local media outlet KOIN-TV reported that “a group of about 50 people gathered at NE Halsey Street and NE 52nd Avenue before beginning a long streak of vandalism up and down NE Sandy Boulevard.”
Reo’s Ribs, a restaurant owned by Reo Varenado, was spared that night. KOIN spoke to the owner’s brother, Ricky Varenado, who said, “I just hope whoever is doing this, they would catch the people who’s doing it and be prosecuted for what they’ve done. I mean, because this is really a sad time of the year they are doing this, with the coronavirus epidemic that’s going on, people are having a hard time trying to make it in life and this makes it even worse.”
He did not blame antifa or any affiliated groups for the destruction despite the fact that the radical leftist movement has long been at the forefront of Portland’s violent demonstrations.
Two days after Varenado’s comments, Reo’s Ribs was set on fire.
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On Tuesday, over three weeks after the restaurant was torched, KOIN shared surveillance video of a suspect dousing a newspaper with gasoline, lighting it on fire and tossing it into an enclosed area in the back of the restaurant. The footage was recorded at 2 a.m. Nov. 23.
Investigators with @PDXFire say the fire at Reo’s Ribs last month was intentionally set and they have a suspect they would like to question.
This is surveillance footage from that night.
Full story: https://t.co/NZ6AwixEV6 pic.twitter.com/wUGqkYCsRz
— KOIN News (@KOINNews) December 15, 2020
The outlet reported that several hours later, Portland firefighters arrived to find “smoke pouring out of the roof” from the rear of the restaurant and “then discovered flames both on the exterior and interior” of the building.
According to KOIN, this was the second time Reo’s Ribs was ravaged by fire. Officials concluded that the first fire, in 2017, was accidental. Reo Varenado, however, believes it was arson.
So thankful for all of you and all of your support #WeWillBeBack #PDX #HappyThanksgiving2017 pic.twitter.com/gfbvJpwvyy
— Reo’s Ribs (@ReosRibs) November 23, 2017
Following the widespread violence on Nov. 21, the city’s far-left mayor, Ted Wheeler, issued a statement that read: “The people who engaged in criminal destruction are an affront to our community. They are working in direct opposition to the needs of the people they say they speak for. They are criminals. They are being played by political forces who are set on preserving the status quo or worse.”
Wheeler added, “None of this should sit well with any thinking Portlander. To those participating in violence, I want to be clear: I denounce your actions. Law enforcement will do everything possible to find you and hold you accountable. We all agree racial justice is past due, but I absolutely denounce the violence and criminal destruction.”
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It’s nice that Wheeler denounced the actions of those perpetrating the violence, but why did he do nothing to stop it?
Since the May 25 death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers, Portland has been plagued by riots and violence. On Sept. 4, the city marked a grim milestone: 100 consecutive nights of destruction.
The riots often went well beyond vandalism.
It’s good that Wheeler denounced the actions of those perpetrating the violence on Nov. 21, but why has he done so little to stop the destruction in his city?
During the months of demonstrations in Portland, the mayor has often sided with those protesting and in some cases engaging in violence. In July, Wheeler joined activists in the streets amid a nightly campaign to destroy the city’s federal building.
When federal agents were sent to Portland to end the violence, the mayor denounced the move as an occupation.
Wheeler said in a tweet that his “biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days,” adding, “We do not need or want their help.”
On Sept. 21, the Department of Justice issued a news release that identified Portland, along with New York City and Seattle, as “jurisdictions permitting violence and destruction of property.”
Attorney General Bill Barr said, “When state and local leaders impede their own law enforcement officers and agencies from doing their jobs, it endangers innocent citizens who deserve to be protected, including those who are trying to peacefully assemble and protest.”
He added: “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance. It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”
Time to wake up, Mayor Wheeler.
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