Portland activists are thrilled at the news that they put a stop to an $8 million dollar development project that would have seen the construction of a new Trader Joe’s, 4 to 10 additional retail spaces, and a 100 car parking lot to accommodate the business traffic. Because of their action, the 2 acre spot can continue to serve the community by generating few to 0 tax dollars, collecting wind-swept litter, and occasional serving as an outdoor yoga studio for a local fitness trainer.
Why oppose new jobs, fresh produce, and community development? In part because it may increase the desire of “non-oppressed populations” to live there, so writes the Portland African American Leadership Forum according to an Associated Press report. Trader Joe’s backed out of the project citing “negative reactions from the community” which can be easily be translated as ” we didn’t want a shakedown, protests or political betrayal in a controversy that is designed to get us embroiled in a pr nightmare of a controversy with racial implications.”
The Oregonian quoted a Portland Development Commission and Mayor Charlie Hales issued joint statement reading, “We appreciate the various concerns raised by neighbors and other stakeholders.”
Their finest hour it was not. Where’s the outrage from these civic leaders about the jobs lost? About the idea that attracting “non-oppressed” populations was a bad thing? About an activist group that self-identified a neighborhood as “oppressed” then sets out to obstruct economic development? About the loss of the construction contract for the minority-owned firm slated to build the Trader Joe’s?