As spring budget season begins, city bureaus are asking the Portland City Council to fund the projects they deem most necessary.
One of the requests: Protect City Hall from gun violence by making the century-old building partly bulletproof.
The city’s Office of Management and Finance is requesting $2.2 million in one-time general funding to increase security at City Hall, asserting that “the measures identified can reasonably be expected to reduce the threat and impact of vehicle ramming attacks, concealed weapons, knife and gun violence, and unauthorized and forced entry.”
Among its requests: eight safe rooms inside City Hall that have ballistic-resistant doors, steel framing and “a high-security positive locking system,” increased security cameras, and handheld magnetometers, which can be used to detective explosives.
Requests for the exterior of the building include ballistic-resistant doors and decorative planters that prevent cars from ramming the building.
The request comes at a time when attacks and threats to public officials are becoming increasingly common across the United States, and as Portland voters are unhappy with their elected leaders like never before.
Over the past two years, and especially during the racial justice uprising in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, protesters routinely marched to City Hall and its surrounding blocks to demonstrate—and, in some cases, set fires and launch fireworks at the building. In Salem, crowds have attempted, with some success, to break into the Capitol.
“During 2020 and 2021, the area surrounding City Hall was the location of numerous social unrest protests that included property damage, violence, and threats targeted at occupants and other city employees,” the budget document reads. “We anticipate protests will likely continue at City Hall and at other city facilities and have the potential to become more destructive.”
There’s a separate $69,000 request to fund two additional security guards at weekly City Council meetings.
“City Council members have personally endured property damage and threats of violence,” the budget reads. “Protests are expected to continue in certain forums, such as City Council meetings, and have the potential to become more disruptive.”
That’s likely a nod to the autumn 2020, when protesters stood outside of Commissioner Dan Ryan’s house for hours after he voted against police budget cuts, hurling insults and objects at his home.