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Portland Church Closed Down Homeless Shelter Following Vandalism Attacks

St. Andre Bassette church in downtown Portland, Oregon. | St. Andre Bassette

A group of more than 100 black-clad rioters vandalized a Catholic church in Portland, Oregon, that regularly serves meals and provides shelter to the homeless, forcing the church to suspend worship services and all of its outreach to the needy.

St. Andre Bassette Church in downtown Portland, which is known for helping disadvantaged people in the area, suffered extensive damage after the violent attack Wednesday, The Post Millennial reported.

Three of the church’s front windows were smashed, after which all of its hospitality services had to be suspended, the news site said, adding that the National Guard had to be called in to control the rioters.

“Surveillance video shows a crowd of protesters, all wearing black, march past Saint Andre Bessette Church on West Burnside Street when one person rushes up to a door and repeatedly hits the glass with what appears to be a hammer,” KOIN 6 reported. “A homeless person sleeping on the doorstep hurries away as the glass shatters.”

The video also shows that after the homeless man was forced to flee, rioters stole his blanket and the few worldly possessions he had lying next to him.

At least 10 people were arrested after the riot was declared in Portland on Wednesday night.

Staff at the church in downtown Portland have suspended worship services and their outreach programs for the homeless after the incident.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said multiple glass windows were broken at the church and suggested more than one person was responsible for the crimes.

The church serves hundreds of homeless people each day, providing shelter, meals and other services. Father Tom Gaughan said Thursday that the church had been able to continue its outreach services to the homeless throughout the summer by putting modifications in place that align with COVID-19 restrictions. They handed out brown bag lunches and drinks, hygiene kits and grocery bags. But the acts of vandalism during Wednesday night’s demonstrations have changed things.

“The building is compromised because of this so unfortunately the actions of this one individual has forced us to cease our outreach and its hundreds of people we normally give food to, we are not able to because I don’t feel like my staff is safe,” Gaughan said.

Gaughan added that he is also suspending church services including mass until they can secure the building. For now, mass will be live-streamed on Facebook.

“I am still waiting to hear from the general contractor about what we can do to try to support the place but I am not comfortable having people in the building with all the violence happening outside,” he said.

“We ask for everyone’s prayers for peace in our streets which is so long overdue and pray for our sisters and brothers who call the streets and shelters home,” said Gaughan. “Because the act of one person has prevented us from providing for hundreds of people over the course of a week.”

Oregon Unified Command declared a riot after two groups of protesters converged in downtown Portland Wednesday evening, with one group going to Waterfront Park and the other blocking the Morrison Bridge and vandalizing small businesses and churches along West Burnside.

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