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Portland Restaurant Owners Stand in Solidarity with Protesters, Black Lives Matter

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Over the weekend, local restaurant owners posted critiques of the local and national police system, donating proceeds to organizations like Campaign Zero and Black Visions Collective

The red building that houses Po’shines, which has images of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery in the windows.
Po’shines
Andrew Jordan/EPDX

Protests marked every evening this weekend in Portland. Demonstrators marched through downtown Portland, down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and across the Burnside Bridge on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, in response to the murder of George Floyd and the larger history of police brutality and violence against people of color.

Mayor Ted Wheeler instituted 8 p.m. curfews for both Saturday and Sunday nights, and respecting the curfew, several restaurants and food carts closed up early. But many of those restaurant owners went out of their way to show support for the Black Lives Matter protesters, posting on social media and setting aside proceeds for organizations that aid black communities.

Many black restaurant owners in the Portland area used their social media channels to honor people of color killed by the police. On Friday, soul food destination Po’Shines lined its windows with images of black men killed in recent police violence and hate crimes, including George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. The restaurant’s owners posted an image of the windows on Facebook, with the caption, “We will never stop fighting for justice.” Kiauna Nelson, the owner of beloved food cart Kee’s Loaded Kitchen, has been posting the images of black men killed by Portland Police, including Patrick Kimmons, who officers shot 16 times in 2018, and Quanice Derrick Hayes, who was 17 when he was killed. “Portland police stop murdering us,” Nelson writes in an Instagram post. “You’re covering... these fucking stores and you don’t give a fuck about our lives.”

“We are still living our ancestors trauma! We still bleed! We still hurt! We still die!” writes Keacean Ransom, the owner of Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine in North Portland. She posted an image of the lyrics to Bob Marley’s “War,” expressing her fear for her two black sons and her rage with white supremacy in the United States. “Wealthy, privileged ‘whyt’ benefactors are continuing the ‘legacy’ of their forefathers!”

Some non-black restaurant owners in the Portland area decided to show their solidarity with social media posts, going as far as to donate portions of proceeds to several nonprofits and grassroots organizations. Indonesian restaurant Gado Gado, for instance, donated 50 percent of Sunday night’s sales to the Black Visions Collective, which fights for black autonomy and community-led safety through national and grassroots campaigns; owners Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly kept a scrolling image of the text “Black Lives Matter” on a projector screen outside the restaurant.

Vietnamese cart Matta donated half of Saturday’s sales to the George Floyd Memorial Fund; Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty, a North Mississippi pizzeria and restaurant, donated a portion of proceeds to the Southern Poverty Law Center; and bottled cocktail company Straightaway donated $2,000 to Unite Oregon. Middle Eastern restaurant Tusk donated money to a number of organizations, including Reclaim the Block, the NAACP, and the Minnesota Freedom Fund. Thai barbecue spot Eem plans to donate 10 percent of this week’s proceeds to Campaign Zero, an organization working to eliminate police brutality in the United States. “As a business and as individuals it is time to listen as opposed to speak, and make room for the voices of the afflicted to be heard the loudest,” an Instagram post announcing the choice read. “So we ask all 14,000 of our followers to take meaningful action and push back against a broken system.”

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We at Eem specialize in community; It is our craft, currency, and conviction. As these words are written, a community continues to be under constant threat from the historic forces of prejudice that continue to play out a cycle of injustice at its best, and violence at its worst. As a business and as individuals it is time to listen as opposed to speak, and make room for the voices of the afflicted to be heard the loudest. So we ask all 14,000 of our followers to take meaningful action and push back against a broken system. This is not about food, or vacation. This is not about commerce and leisure. We are here to make a pointed statement about what is just, and what is not. The city and country that surrounds us is in a state of tectonic unrest as long standing fault-lines once again begin their cyclical slip. As that happens we stand alongside the members of the Black community who will continue to shoulder the unrelenting burden of prejudice long after the stream of social media well wishing has stopped. We will be donating 10% of this week's sales to Campaign Zero, an action based non-profit that seeks to reform our broken systems through comprehensive and precise legislation combined with community focused activism. We ask you to sit in your current discomfort and give it thorough examination. Do not avoid or distract yourself from the difficult questions. This time is about one community, and we stand with them.

A post shared by EEM (@eempdx) on

Carlo Lamagna, the owner of Filipino restaurant Magna on SE Clinton, has been donating a meal for every meal they serve, feeding frontline workers, community shelters, and underserved communities; this week, however, Lamagna will instead donate a portion of the proceeds to a handful of organizations, including Campaign Zero, Action Bail Fund, and Black Visions Collective. “We support our community and find ourselves a safe haven for all people, especially our Asian and African American family,” Lamagna wrote in an Instagram post. “Mess with them? You mess with us.”

Other restaurants used their platforms to encourage donations to organizations instead: Maya Lovelace of Mae and Yonder posted a list of organizations like Don’t Shoot PDX and Campaign Zero, writing, “If you have money to support restaurants, you have money to donate to organizations working to dismantle systemic racism.”

Some local restaurants were damaged in the protests over the weekend, including celebrated French restaurant Le Pigeon. Still, like many other restaurant owners in the country, owner Gabriel Rucker used the broken windows as an opportunity to reaffirm his support. “To the person that smashed my window last night I hear you and I hope you find a voice that screams louder than broken glass,” he writes. “To the person who broke my window last night I love you and if you were hungry I would cook you a meal.”

As Protests Continue, Civic Leaders Confront Crowds And Oregon’s Racist History [OPB]
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler holds morning news conference, asks governor to call out National Guard [Oregonian]
Portland curfew begins at 8 p.m. Saturday in response to overnight riot. What that means for you. [O]
Portland curfew in place until Monday morning [KATU]
Grand Jury Clears Portland Officer Who Shot Black Teen [OPB]
Family seeks ‘justice’ after death of Patrick Kimmons [Portland Tribune]

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