A new ordinance in Portland, Oregon, requires public signs on brick buildings to warn residents that the structures could collapse during an earthquake. But the NAACP views the signs as a way to force black people to move out of neighborhoods.
Who is protesting the policy?
The NAACP, renters rights groups, and music advocates held a news conference outside City Hall on Saturday to demand the city rescind the policy. About 1,600 unreinforced masonry buildings, some of them 90-years-old, are at risk. Many of the buildings are in predominantly black neighborhoods, The Oregonian reported.
"It speaks to our houses of worship and everything about the black presence in the North-Northeast area," the Rev. E.D. Mondaine, a pastor at Celebration Tabernacle Church in north Portland and president of the Portland NAACP chapter, stated in the report.
"We will no longer allow the same tactics," Mondaine said, citing Oregon's explicit policy at its origin excluding blacks from living here, the Portland area's assurances to black residents ahead of the Vanport flood and the long history of red-lining and discrimination in housing policies in inner North and Northeast Portland. "We will no longer allow the same principles that have driven us out again," he said, with a crowd of supporters behind him, "We will no longer allow these things to remove us from our community. We want action. "The NAACP stated it believes the policy "exacerbates a long history of systemic and structural betrayals of trust and policies of displacement, demolition, and dispossession predicated on classism, racism, and white supremacy."
The NAACP also believes the policy will also discourage investment and make it tougher for owners of brick buildings to get loans. Once the buildings are sold, developers will likely demolish them and rebuild structures at a much high cost. That will force out the current residents.
When was it approved?
The ordinance was approved by city leaders in October as part of a push to upgrade old buildings so they can withstand an earthquake. The upgrades could cost owners of the buildings millions of dollars, but not take effect for as long as 20 years.
Portland is at risk of being impacted by a major earthquake that experts believe could take place along the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Oregon coast within the next 50 years.