Readers Respond to Portland’s Downtown Fentanyl Market

“There’s one issue that is currently the biggest existential crisis in our city. And our police have four bike cops working on it. And they clock out at 6 pm.”

THREE KINGS: The Three Kings Building is the latest site of Portland's sidewalk fentanyl sale. (Blake Benard)

Last week, WW explored the workings of a pop-up fentanyl market that opens each evening at 6 pm along Portland’s Transit Mall (“Life in Hell,” July 26). Lucas Manfield spoke to drug users and police about the poison leaching into the city each night from a single corner, and followed emergency medical technicians as the overdoses spread outward from Southwest 6th Avenue and Harvey Milk Street over a single night. Here’s what our readers had to say.

Courtney Ranstrom, via Twitter: “Portland’s fentanyl corner also happens to be my husband’s downtown bus stop. Can confirm—there is sketchy shit around there. Outside of the Rialto (on Southwest 4th Avenue) is also gnarly on the weekends. Great reporting.”

Linda McKim-Bell, via Facebook: “Sad that WW continues its yellow journalism attacks on our recovering downtown. This problem is mostly confined to one block. I have been enjoying downtown several times a week for the past three years. Portland’s downtown is recovering, but I am not seeing a story about this. I just bought my third shipment of 500 Love Downtown PDX buttons to distribute for free. What is WW doing to help our city? Has their reporter been to shops like Tiny Brambles, Goodwill, the Japanese goods store on Southwest Morrison and 10th? Have they interviewed the owner at Habibi’s or Mel’s Frame Shop?”

Nicholas Kristof, via Twitter: “Searing piece about the drug scene on Portland’s streets. A ‘blue’ pill with fentanyl can be just $1, one of the cheapest prices in the U.S. The cops leave at 5 pm and the open-air drug market opens at 6 pm—and overdoses start.”

South_By_Northwest, via Reddit: “So let me get this right. Our police have the biggest budget they’ve ever had. There’s one issue that is currently the biggest existential crisis in our city. And our police have four bike cops working on it. And they clock out at 6 pm.”

curiousengineer601, in reply: “It’s like a comedy. There was an old cartoon where the coyote and sheepdog would clock in and clock out at regular times. Only in the cartoon the sheepdog did the job.”

Zbignew, via “When do we stop handing out bail? How many times do you go in front of a judge before we say, ‘No more’? Is it the DA, the judges, or both, that need to stop the revolving door?

“Why do we have a drug enforcement team that only works day shift? Is this like the gangs and guns team, where you have to show equity in arrests rather than chase the actual bad guys?

“Now the big question, will the voters finally pull their heads out and see that they are to blame for many of the problems facing the city?”

Oshana Katranidou, via Facebook: “Historically, the sellers are white, but in accord with its racist foundation, Willamette Week places the cause of all wrongs upon those who are anything other than white. Perhaps it’s time to change the WW title from Willamette Week to ‘Willamette White.’”

_The_Avant_Gardener, vias Reddit: “Tragic to read this. And, I also want to say, vividly reported on. This was exceptionally well written and gives some person-first insight into the problem.”

Marie B., via “There definitely needs to be more help and support to recovery. My son begged for help for months. We were told everything was very backed up and didn’t know when help would be available. I kept reaching out to find him help for months. Then one night he collapsed walking across the street, dead. I can’t believe how many people are dying after waiting for help that rarely comes. Forget about spending millions on points, foil, straws, etc. Spend millions on real life-changing help. Give people hope!”

LETTERS to the editor must include the author’s street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words. Submit to: P.O. Box 10770, Portland, OR 97296 Email:

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.