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Apple store removing security walls surrounding downtown Portland location

KGW-TV Portland 3/24/2023 Mike Benner

At the corner of Southwest 5th and Yamhill, passersby will now find something that they have not seen in a while — the floor-to-ceiling windows of downtown Portland's Apple Store.

"It makes me feel like I'm not in a police state anymore and they expect people to behave like they should," Portlander Nancy Merryman told KGW.

For most of the last three years, a protective wall has been up around the popular store. It was for good reason; an overnight protest at the end of May 2020, spiraled into a riot. Some rioters shattered the Apple store's towering glass windows and broke in, looting the place.

Civil unrest and crime in the Rose City resulted in a lot of property damage over the next several years — more than $18 million in 2021 alone, according to FBI statistics.

Apparently wanting to avoid having to frequently replace windows, Apple put up the security walls. Now they are coming down.

"I hope it can stay down," Mitzi Zilka said.

"I'm encouraged by it and I hope it continues," Gary Bong added.

The Oregonian reported last May that Apple had proposed installing a lattice-work of clear polycarbonate panels around the store's windows to replace the security wall. Based on the appearance of the store on Friday and the proposed renderings, it seems that Apple went through with the upgrade — suggesting they're still hedging their bets somewhat.

While there are signs of renewal outside the Apple Store, the walls are still up outside the Multnomah County courthouse. Boards are still up at the Justice Center, as well. The county told KGW it could be more than a year before the design phase to protect the buildings is complete.

"The reality is we know they're trying to get there and that's what people need to be doing, sending a message 'we're open,'" said Andrew Hoan.

Hoan is the President and CEO of the Portland Business Alliance. He is encouraged by what he sees in downtown Portland, but he wants to see even more.

"I think the reality is that what was is not what's going to be, and there's a lot of work that has to happen to get us to a place where this is a 24/7 vibrant live/work neighborhood," Hoan said.

Hoan said that it starts with workers in the public and private sectors returning to downtown offices. Others point to consumers.

"People need to come back downtown and support the city and not be afraid of circumstances that are causing them to think things are terrible," Hubert Mathews said.

"It's offensive to the city and everyone to have those barricades up," Merryman said.

KGW reached out to Apple for a comment, but we have not heard back.

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