By Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin
Portland, OR – Full-page advertisements have been taken out in The New York Times and other major newspapers on Sunday as part of a massive promotional effort to try to lure tourists back after a year of highly-publicized, violent rioting.
The advertising campaign will also target leisure travelers in major West Coast cities including Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, KOIN reported.
The top-dollar ads ran just four days after all of the members of the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) Rapid Response Team (RRT) unanimously voted to resign from the department’s specialized crowd-control unit.
The ad, which was placed by the city’s tourism agency Travel Portland and has a companion video, sought to frame the violence-plagued city as cutting-edge and forward-thinking rather than the dumpster fire that has been portrayed in the news.
“Some of what you’ve heard about Portland is true. Some is not. What matters most is that we’re true to ourselves,” the ad began, completely ignoring the 120 consecutive nights of looting and burning that plagued the city after George Floyd died on May 25, 2020.
“There’s a river that cuts through the middle of our town. It divides the east and west. But it’s bridged — over and over again. Twelve times, to be specific. And that’s kind of a great metaphor for this city,” the ad continued. “We’re a place of dualities that are never polarities. Two sides to the same coin that keeps landing right on its edge. Anything can happen. We like it this way.”
The advertisement doesn’t address the rioters who tried to burn federal buildings, police precincts, the Portland Historical Society, and at least one library, vandalized such statues as Abraham Lincoln, and firebombed police officers who were trying to keep the streets safe.
“This is the kind of place where new ideas are welcome — whether they’re creative, cutting-edge or curious at first glance. You can speak up here. You can be yourself here,” the advertisement read.
It was unclear which “curious at first glance” aspects of Portland being referred to were the 20-somethings in black masks, carrying shields, umbrellas, and Molotov cocktails were categorized as creative or cutting edge.
“We have some of the loudest voices on the West Coast. And yes, passion pushes the volume all the way up. We’ve always been like this. We wouldn’t have it any other way,” the ad continued, clearly not taking into account the homeowners of Portland who have been complaining about the mass chaos in residential areas for more than a year.
“We have faith in the future. We’re building it every day the only way we know how, by being Portland,” the ad, which was written like an invitation, finished. “Come see for yourself. Love, Portland.”
The appearance of the ad in The New York Times, the Seattle Times, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications on June 20 set off a flurry of messages on social media, the Daily Mail reported.
“Perfectly reasonable use of taxpayer funds of a city that’s set ablaze daily,” @CWestphaia tweeted.
Many people questioned the timing of the advertisement, less than a week after the police department’s entire RRT quit, making the city more vulnerable during protests than ever before.
The unanimous vote to quit the elite unit came one day after Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced the indictment of PPB Officer Corey Budworth, who was one of the RRT’s voluntary members, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
An internal investigation determined Officer Budworth carried out his job within the scope of the law and didn’t violate any department rules or policies, according to KXL.
But Schmidt has alleged Officer Budworth committed fourth-degree misdemeanor assault for using his baton on an activist during a riot on Aug. 18, 2020, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
That same night, Antifa militants hurled a Molotov cocktail into the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) headquarters, according to The Post Millennial.
Protester Teri Jacobs was hit in the head with the baton during the melee and later sued the city, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
She received a $50,000 payout in February.
Schmidt released a statement after Officer Budworth’s indictment, accusing the veteran officer of excessive force.
“In this case, we allege that no legal justification existed for Officer Budworth’s deployment of force, and that the deployment of force was legally excessive under the circumstances,” the prosecutor declared, according to The Post Millennial. “My office will continue to do everything we can to ensure justice is done without error or delay and that we make sure our work and practices are rooted in fairness and equity.”
The Portland Police Association (PPA), which has been a constant target for rioters who have repeatedly set its headquarters on fire over the past year, released a statement denouncing the charges against Officer Budworth, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
The PPA claimed that Jacobs was one of many rioters who were engaging in criminal activity that particular night.
“Unfortunately, this decorated public servant has been caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system,” the PPA said, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Travel Portland is banking on its spendy ad campaign to remind people that there’s still something worth visiting in the beleaguered city.