PORTLAND, OR – Police arrested six people in connection to a fight that broke out Monday afternoon at some downtown food carts. The fight is believed to have been part of an ongoing conflict between food cart operators and “street youth,” police said.
The suspects range in age from 18 to 25.
They were expected to be charged with fourth-degree assault, menacing, harassment and second-degree disorderly conduct.
Portland police officers had responded just before 4 p.m. to the food carts on SW Stark, between Second and Third Avenues.
As officers responded, they learned some of the people involved in the fight were armed with weapons, such as knives and sticks, or were being threatening, police said.
Another food cart owner, a man named Lefty, said he’s fed up with the homeless young adults who hang out downtown and the vandalism and harassment he believes they’re responsible for. “They call themselves gutter punks. They have different names for their different gangs,” he said. “We’re harassed all the time by the street kids. They’re down here every day panhandling. When people don’t give them change, they call them names (and) threaten them.”
He said the harassment turned violent when a gang of people surrounded him and fellow food cart owner, Amani, after the two men reported vandalism of a cart’s gas line to police. “If we didn’t have something to fend them off, you know, it was like walking through a blender,” Left said. “All of them had knives, and they attacked us. I mean, it was like a bad movie.”
“It’s not a good feeling when there’s 15 people surrounding you with knives and brass knuckles trying to stab you, I mean, it’s scary,” Lefty said. I have to protect myself… A bunch of kids trying to kill me, I have to protect myself,” Amani said.
There were some injuries but none was serious.