Backlash Against People Brandishing Signs in Lincoln Street Neighborhood

A “Safe Lincoln Street” sign sits outside a house that has a red “X” spray painted in front of it. Most of the houses that have had red X’s spray painted outside had this same sign on their lawn. Photo by Abby Chapman.

On March 20, at least nine residents of Southeast Lincoln Street in the Mt. Tabor neighborhood found red X’s spray painted in front of their homes. All these houses between 52nd Avenue and 54th Avenue were seemingly different, but under observation it was found that they all had signs that supported the Lincoln-Harrison Greenway project on their property.

The Lincoln-Harrison Greenway project has been a highly controversial issue for several months, and has heightened to aggressiveness. Reports on bikeportland.org of a meeting where possible changes were discussed on December 5, 2017 showed that things escalated to “mob-like” and “hostile.” The meeting had few opposers, but they were outspoken with their questions and opinions. In one account on the website, a person went around and asked for drivers licenses to check if meeting attendees were “real Oregonians.”
The Lincoln-Harrison Greenway project seeks to make speed limits lower and to create a safer travel space for cyclists and pedestrians in the Lincoln-Harrison Greenway area. These plans include additions such as adding different lanes, putting up safer crosswalks, and lowering speed limits in the busy greenway area.

The day after this “petty crime”—according to Christian Columbres, a neighbor on Lincoln Street—the neighborhood of Southeast Lincoln Street met and discussed the vandalism in front of their homes. It was taken very seriously due to the fact that red X’s have been known to be a sign of firebombing houses. It was decided by Joe Cadwell, a neighbor who attended the meeting, that they would create a neighborhood watch program to prevent future crimes. Cadwell made the observation that their neighborhood had fallen victim to several other crimes, such as package theft and increased vandalism separate from the red X’s.

“I do not feel comfortable,” said neighbor Rebecca Casanova to The Portland Mercury about the possibility of being a target to firebombing. It can’t be proven as a threat—especially since nothing dangerous has happened to Lincoln Street’s residents—the only charge the vandal can be held responsible for is some low grade vandalism. They haven’t been caught, but the Portland Police Bureau is currently investigating any leads they are provided with. In the meantime, the red X victims refuse to take down their signs, as a small act of defiance. As of now, the X’s have been removed from the sidewalks between 52nd Avenue and 54th Avenue on Lincoln Street.

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