The Oregon Historical Society is picking up the pieces – literal glass shards of their shattered doors and windows – after rioters targeted the building during Sunday’s “Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage”.
In a press conference with Mayor Ted Wheeler on Monday, the Society’s executive director Kerry Tymchuk reported the “the vast majority” of the building’s windows “were either completely destroyed or damaged”. Flairs were thrown into the building as well, but only caused minor damage to the carpet.
Community members have poured out their support by way of phone calls, emails, and donations. But it was the actions of one man – a homeless man – that deeply touched Tymchuk and has since been reported on local media outlets.
“Hello, I’m homeless so I don’t have much to give to you,” reads the note written on a napkin, “just some of my bottle collecting money.”
The man’s donation? One dollar.
“But I saw your windows got broken and I wanted to help. You once gave me a free tour before the pandemic, so this is a thank you.”
The napkin note was signed “Oscar”. Oscar regularly tweets under the handle @MyHomelessMeals about homeless life in Portland during the COVID-19 pandemic and regular protests.
“In my time as Executive Director,” Tymchuk wrote in a statement, “I have seen OHS receive truly incredible gifts — but this one has touched my heart tremendously.”
Protesters marched through Portland on Sunday night participating in what was called “The Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage.” They toppled statues of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and smashed windows of several buildings, including the Oregon Historical Society, in protest of America’s colonialist history.
The Society also reported that while protesters did not access their exhibits, they did take the Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt. The quilt was made by a team of 15 African-American women in the 1970s. It traveled across the country for the 1976 bicentennial to honor the contributions of the African-American community in U.S. history.
Police discovered the quilt the next morning several blocks from the building, soaking wet from the rain of the previous night.
District Attorney Mike Schmidt called the damage to the Society’s building “inexcusable”, especially considering the Society’s history of working to ensure that the stories of all peoples in Oregon are shared openly and honestly.
“They have put a spotlight on white supremacy, racism, civil rights and social inequality,” he said. “They have elevated the voices and stories of marginalized and underserved communities in Oregon.”
Multiple people have been arrested in connection with Sunday’s riots, including one man from Indiana who has been living in Washington State and regularly participating in local riots.