EUGENE, Ore. – After years of vandalism, violence, and general mayhem in downtown Eugene, business owners say they’re ready to take action.
A group of several dozen owners gathered at the Elk Horn Brewery Thursday night to air their grievances and find ways of fixing the problem. Stephen Sheehan, co-owner of Elk Horn, whose restaurant was recently trashed by a repeat offender, says he’s ready to lead the charge.
“We're tired of telling each other we're sorry,” Sheehan said. “Let's do something and come together as a group; let’s start a movement."
The movement Sheehan is referring to is called “Eugene Wake Up” and it was launched at Thursday’s meeting. The goal is to create a support group made up of local business owners to help those whose establishment has fallen victim to a crime like vandalism.
“The first time in 10 years have I ever felt as moved as I felt the last three days with support pouring in from business owners, community members,” Sheehan said. “It’s like an awakening.”
Brittany Quick-Warner, president and chief executive of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, said business leaders want to help solve the homelessness problem, but they want the crime to stop first.
“I'm hearing from businesses that they're frustrated with the criminal behavior going on,” Quick-Warner said. “They're frustrated about the vandalism, they're frustrated by their staff getting harassed as they walk by, they're frustrated about showing up at the office and having human feces and needles out in front of their building.”
KEZI 9 News tried to reach Mayor Lucy Vinis to get her reaction to the Eugene Wake Up initiative, as well as her thoughts on downtown safety, but she did not respond to our request.