For seven months, Dylan Carrico Rogers slept in his bike shop with a shotgun. TriTech Bikes, located in the Montavilla neighborhood of northeast Portland, Ore., where Rogers grew up, had been battered by three break-ins, two nearby shootings, and countless instances of vandalism. Portland’s serially understaffed police force was nowhere to be found. And in the face of $25,000 of stolen bike parts, TriTech’s insurance company was ready to jump ship. “They said, ‘if you claim another one, we’re just gonna drop you,’” Rogers told National Review. “So I’m paying $1,200 every three months to be told that I have to replace [everything] on my own dime. And then at the same time, the cops don’t show up. So we’re just in a free-for-all.”
The lifelong Portland resident finally packed up and left in August. By that point, he said, the building landlord “told me that it wasn’t worth it anymore.” The graffiti, property damage, constant break-ins, and unattended-to police reports were just no longer worth the investment. “He tore up a three-year lease. The building’s vacant now,” Rogers said. The gloomy metropolis of 660,000, perched at the northwestern tip of Oregon, is not quite the anarchic dystopia that it is occasionally made out to be in some corners of conservative media. But in the wake of spasms of political violence, a slashed law-enforcement budget, a wave of early police retirements, and punitive lockdown measures that have devastated small businesses such as TriTech, it’s inching ever closer to genuine lawlessness.
This is the Portland way of life. “You have people that are just blatantly taking advantage of the fact that there are no police officers,” Rogers said. “I mean, this has spread everywhere now. It’s not just the Portland bike shops. Grocery-store workers are getting attacked, because we have drug addicts that are literally walking in and doing these blitz raids.”
—National Review, yesterday.
In their years at the Tailwind, the Aboud brothers have never been held up—a record that Aboud attributes to the family’s honest business practices and its militance. “When we caught shoplifters we never used to call the cops,” said Aboud, preferring the past tense. “We took care of things in our own way. If somebody killed my brother, I’d get even, that’s the type of family we are. People who think we’re crazy are right—we are crazy. But we don’t look for trouble. We’ve got a friendly store. Come over any night and you’ll see.”
The following Friday I took him up on his offer. After all the horror stories I had heard, I was surprised by the relaxed atmosphere in the Tailwind. Customers, mostly black, bantered with Aboud and his brother Mike, exchanging neighborhood gossip. John Aboud flirted amiably with several of the young women and they flirted back. Over the cash register there were snapshots of kids from the block.
After each customer left, Aboud provided me with a thumbnail biography. Some were solid working people, but many were drug addicts or dealers, teenage mothers and ex-cons. Each story was told in a flat, nonjudgmental way. Aboud is a merchant, not a missionary, and he accepts the foibles and weaknesses of human nature philosophically.
Aboud’s tolerance has not impaired his vigilance, however, and the Tailwind’s security system could be fairly characterized as forbidding. The front door has a permanent squeak, to let the brothers know when someone comes in. They work behind a thick shield of bullet-resistant glass (Aboud told me that when they come out from behind it, they wear bulletproof vests) and on the shelf behind the counter there was a small arsenal: a .44 Magnum, a 9-millimeter pistol, and a couple of AR 15 semiautomatic assault rifles—tools of the shopkeeper’s trade in Detroit.
—Devil’s Night: And Other True Tales of Detroit, Zev Chafets, 1990.
h/t Ed Driscoll