Police Refuse To Let Residents Salvage Discarded Food After Power Outage, Want To Let It Rot

Police Refuse To Let Residents Salvage Discarded Food After Power Outage, Want To Let It Rot

Workers at the Hollywood West Fred Meyer threw out perishable food and when people gathered to collect it from dumpsters, they called the police.

Representative Image Source: Tim Grist Photography/Getty

A group of residents in Portland was confronted by police officers after they attempted to salvage food items that were thrown away by a grocery store. According to NBC News, workers at the Hollywood West Fred Meyer in Portland were forced to throw away thousands of perishable food into two huge dumpsters outside the store on Tuesday, shortly after the winter storm caused a power outage throughout the city. In no time, there was a gathering of people near the dumpsters around 2:30 pm, reports The Oregonian. Then, within hours, police arrived at the scene of these dumpsters to prevent people from taking out anything.




Speaking to the newspaper activist, Morgan Mckniff revealed that before the police arrived outside the store, the employees at the local Fred Meyers were guarding the dumpsters. Apparently, there were 15 people who had arrived to collect the discarded groceries, said Mckniff, a long-time critic of the Portland police. Following this, the store's manager decided to involve the police in the matter. "After that, other people started showing up and asking them, 'Why are you guys guarding a dumpster?'" shared Mckniff. 




Portland police say they received a call from the grocery store around 4 pm that day with a Fred Meyer employee saying they "felt the situation was escalating and feared there may be a physical confrontation." On arrival, the employee reportedly informed the police that the food was spoiled and that it was not to be consumed or donated. "The position of the employees of the store was that the food was spoiled and required to be disposed of due to lack of refrigeration," revealed the Portland Police Bureau authorities, according to a release. "The food was unfit for consumption or donation. Officers also tried to explain this to the group of people."







In videos and photos circulating in social media, heaps of food items, including juice cartons, dairy products, and packaged meat, could be seen in the dumpster. NBC News reports that cops directed the group to leave the area or risk being arrested for trespassing on private property. By then, the crowd had "grew to about 50 people." Mckniff added that cops guarded the dumpsters to stop people from taking any of the discarded grocery products. Following the threats from police, the crowd dispersed momentarily. However, they returned when police left the scene, believing that there was "no longer any threat or harm."







Activist and researcher, Juniper Simonis, who went to the scene to document it, revealed that after the police left, people were able to go back and get the food that was tossed into the garbage. "The people who were there weren’t there for selfish reasons — they were there to get food to distribute to hungry people around the city," said Simonis, according to The Hill. "There are mutual aid groups that have been helping feed people at warming centers because the city doesn’t have enough resources to feed them." 




When the crowd, which had been waiting to collect food, began gathering food items from the dumpster, workers at Fred Meyer contacted the police again. But this time, officers determined that those people did not pose an imminent threat. Thus, they did not return to the scene. "None of this makes sense to me except through the lens of severely ingrained policing and a culture of disrespect for human dignity," said Simonis. "It’s not a bad situation or vandalism, it’s literally the exact opposite — feeding hungry people."



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