By Zane Sparling
Six masked vandals smashed up a coffee shop about 3 a.m. Wednesday in apparent retaliation for a planned “Coffee with a Cop” event that had drawn angry online comments, according to the proprietor.
Alerted to the damage by neighbors immediately afterward, Bison Coffeehouse owner Loretta Guzman said she arrived at her Cully neighborhood cafe to find patrol cars parked outside and the shattered storefront’s plate glass windows still crackling.
“I’m just kind of numb right now,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “It was planned. It wasn’t just random.”
Guzman said police officials had asked her to host a two-hour event for community members interested in talking to officers. Guzman agreed.
But when the 52-year-old posted the event on social media with the hashtags “#positiveoutreach” and “#weliveforthefuture,” her page was flooded with dozens of angry messages.
“I was just hoping people from the community could bring their concerns, their questions — because there’s a lot of questions right now that people have for the police,” she said.
Hours after Guzman’s post, the cloaked figures showed up bearing hammers and crowbars, she said, citing surveillance camera footage. The business owner said the vandals never stepped foot inside but appeared to have some sort of sprayer that misted much of the store, including Native American art and the authentic stuffed bison head mounted on the wall.
Police later said it appeared someone discharged a fire extinguisher that left a white residue throughout the shop’s interior.
In a tweet, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler condemned the vandalism, saying he would advocate for prosecution of the culprits to the “fullest extent of the law,” potentially including federal hate crime charges.
In a statement, Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Sgt. Kevin Allen said responding officers assisted with the cleanup.
“PPB has no plans to change our efforts to work closely with community members on the public safety concerns they have,” said Allen, adding that the bureau would respect the decision of any business owner who declined to host an event. “Having that community partnership is a critical part of the success of these events, so we’re grateful to Bison’s owner.”
Guzman is an enrolled member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, and her father, Garry Guzman, operated East Side Motorcycle on the Cully Boulevard property for four decades.
The attack lasted only a minute, Loretta Guzman said, but inflicted “thousands and thousands” of dollars in damage.
Guzman said she started sweeping up glass and scrubbing off the white residue, then spent the rest of the night cooking, as all of the shop’s pastries are prepared in-house.
The windows of the store have since been boarded up, and Guzman said the event with police officers went on as planned on Wednesday morning. She is now raising funds to cover the cost of repairs.
“I’m hoping they’re trying to make a change from all the stuff that happened over the years,” Guzman said of the Portland Police Bureau. “You don’t have the answers, but maybe you can try to figure things out, to make things better.”
“That was my thought — at least we can try,” she said.
Police asked anyone with information about the case to email [email protected] and reference case number 22-267489.
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