Roughly a dozen Portland police officers faced off with a small group at a Northeast Portland Fred Meyer after people tried to take food that had been thrown away, The Oregonian.
Workers at the Hollywood West Fred Meyer threw away thousands of perishable items because the store, like many others, had lost power in an outage brought on by the region’s winter storm.
Images on social media showed mountains of packaged meat, cheese and juice, as well as whole turkeys and racks of ribs that had been tossed into two large dumpsters near the store.
A few people gathered about 2:30 p.m. at the store, 3030 N.E. Weidler St., in hopes of salvaging the food.
But within a few hours, people seeking food from the dumpsters began to report police officers showing up to guard the dumpsters and prevent people from taking the items.
Morgan Mckniff, a prominent activist and outspoken Portland police critic who lives in the neighborhood, said employees were guarding the dumpsters when they showed up to get some of the discarded food. Mckniff began to film the employees and reported staff members threatened to call the police on them for doing so.
The store manager called police shortly thereafter, Mckniff said, and Mckniff began livestreaming the interaction on Instagram.
“After that, other people started showing up and asking them, ‘Why are you guys guarding a dumpster?’” Mckniff said.
Mckniff said about 15 people eventually gathered in an attempt to collect food.
At that point, Mckniff said, a dozen officers arrived at the scene. One officer wasn’t wearing a mask and refused to put one on until a supervisor arrived and brought him one, according to Mckniff.
On Wednesday, Portland police said officers were sent to the scene after employees said “they felt the situation was escalating and feared there may be a physical confrontation,” a police spokesman said in a statement.
Also on Wednesday, a Fred Meyer spokesman responded to what had become a deluge of criticism, noting the company donates more than five million pounds of food annually.
“Unfortunately, due to loss of power at this store, some perishable food was no longer safe for donation to local hunger relief agencies,” the company wrote. “Our store team became concerned that area residents would consume the food and risk food borne illness, and they engaged local law enforcement out of an abundance of caution. We apologize for the confusion.”
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