Read Pride 2021: Queer Beginnings, the Mercury's Pride series!

Good Afternoon, News: Some Oregon Cities Restrict Drinking Water, Student Debt Baby Steps, and HBO Blames the Intern

The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support!

Three people sit in front of a large sign reading cancel student debt
Activists placed signs urging Biden to cancel student debt in front of the White House earlier this week. Biden cancelled $500 million in student debt today. Paul Morigi / Getty

In local news:

• The last of our Pride essays have arrived! Make sure to check out Elanor Broker’s piece on the experience of watching a wave of anti-Trans legislation flood the country from inside Oregon’s progressive bubble, as well as Dahlia Belle’s guide—and revision—of LGBTQ+ labels.

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Oregon Lawmakers Offer Federal Funds for I-5 Expansion, ODOT Says It's More Complicated

Three Oregon representatives stand side by side outside behind a podium
Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, and Congressman Earl Blumenauer at a press conference in Sheridan, Oregon, in 2018. Ron Wyden

Oregon’s congressional representatives have offered to help the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) secure federal funding for the controversial Rose Quarter expansion of Interstate 5, but only if the project includes freeway caps.

In a letter sent to Governor Kate Brown on Thursday, Senators Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, and Congressman Earl Blumenauer criticized the current I-5 expansion plans for not fully supporting the revitalization of the Albina neighborhood—the historically Black neighborhood that was partially destroyed and bisected by the original construction of I-5 in the early 1960s. While the Rose Quarter project was initiated to address the corridor’s bottleneck and congestion issues, ODOT has been encouraged to use the project to deliver some restorative justice to Portland’s Black community.

“In its current iteration, the plan for the Rose Quarter Improvement Project from Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) does not take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect a community divided by a freeway to help ensure economic opportunities and a more equitable future,” the letter states. “This project has the potential to be truly transformational — adding multiple blocks of retail, green space, and housing to revitalize an area that has previously been defined by bottlenecked traffic headed in and out of the state.”

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The Best In-Person Things to Do in Portland This Weekend: Third Eye Books' Grand Opening, a Juneteenth Pride Party, and More

Track and field champion Tianna Bartoletta will sign copies of her memoir at the grand opening of Third Eye Books, Portlands only Black-owned bookstore, on Sunday.
Track and field champion Tianna Bartoletta will sign copies of her memoir at the grand opening of Third Eye Books, Portland's only Black-owned bookstore, on Sunday. Third Eye Books via Facebook

A momentous weekend lies ahead, and not just because of Juneteenth, Father's Day, and the summer solstice (although we have plenty of suggestions for ways to celebrate all three). Read on for our full roundup of picks through Sunday, including a Juneteenth Pride Party at Local Lounge, Timbers and Thorns games at Providence Park (which will increase its capacity to 80% on Saturday), places to get vegan Philly cheesesteaks (like Papi Sal's Lechon Shack), and more. 

HOLIDAYS
Celebrate the summer solstice. This time last year, we would have encouraged you to spend the longest day of the year (this Sunday) distracting yourself from your quarantine-induced malaise by eating a popsicle and rewatching Midsommar, but things are (a little) different now that Oregon plans to fully reopen by June 27. On Sunday evening, you can watch the sunset in Laurelhurst Park while you dance to bass, house, or "funky stuff" with Heartbeat Silent Disco DJs. The night before, Big Legrowlski is hosting a pre-solstice dance party (not silent) with Soul House DJs Alma, Bergmönch, Nate Aries, and Harriet Thugman. If you're open to a day trip (or even a last-minute overnight getaway), head northwest for the three-day Astoria Midsummer Festival, whose modified festivities include a drive-by OpTog Parade (Saturday) at the Columbia River Maritime Museum, to-go fruit soup and rice pudding behind the Finnish lodge at 244 West Marine Drive (Saturday), and a flag-raising and Nordic scavenger hunt at Nordic Heritage Park (Saturday). You could also keep things simple and take advantage of the extra daylight hours by reading outdoors until it gets dark. We have a couple of recommendations for new books by LGBTQ+ authors if you need some inspiration!

Read on EverOut »

Watching the Anti-Trans Legislation Wave From Oregon’s Blue Bubble

A lot has changed for LGBTQ+ people in Oregon since 2007, when demonstrators gathered outside the Capitol to rally for marriage equality.
A lot has changed for LGBTQ+ people in Oregon since 2007, when demonstrators gathered outside the Capitol to rally for marriage equality. Craig Mitchelldyer / getty images

Happy Pride, Portland! This week, the Mercury is running a series of opinion pieces and personal essays from LGBTQ+ Portlanders on the theme Pride 2021: Queer Beginnings. As we emerge out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we're all re-evaluating and re-imagining things, and that includes queer life and how we observe Pride. Here's the sixth and final entry.

On November 2, 2004, I sat up alone in my dark co-op room just off the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, watching numbers move the wrong way. I had paid close attention to politics since my childhood in Corvallis, and this was my first year voting. So much was riding on this night, above all a referendum on the Iraq war. Past midnight, with the results clear, I walked down Alder Street to 7/11 and bought a pack of Lucky Strikes, even though I didn’t really smoke, and finished half the pack wandering the empty campus. George W. Bush had won re-election, and here in Oregon, a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage passed.

That the initiative was a ploy to inspire Bush voters salted the wound; it didn’t get him over the line, but the damage was done. Every county in the state voted for the ban except deep-blue Multnomah, and my native Benton, which is mostly a college town. Even UO’s Lane County voted for hate.

In May 2017, I carried the memory of that night into a legislative hearing. I was five months into my career as a civil rights attorney, and only a few days out publicly as a trans woman. I was there with dozens of trans Oregonians to support House Bill 2673, a bill to modernize the legal identity change process for trans people in Oregon. My own name change was still pending, and I used the complications in my testimony. Before the committee, I spoke of how stifling it was to grow up as a trans person in Oregon, and how simply speaking openly before the Legislature was something I could never imagine as a child. I spoke of hope that our state was now truly committed to LGBTQ+ equality, but also the need to take these stands in light of the dark clouds looming in the national climate.

Looking back from the present moment, this contrast is starker than ever. Over the last five years, I have been privileged to contribute to successful trans rights legislation in each regular session, including this session’s trans panic defense ban, as well as a broad clarification of trans rights throughout Oregon law. In that time, I have seen a state government that is receptive and reasonably responsive to LGBTQ+ rights advocacy. Yet outside of Oregon, this year has seen a tidal wave of anti-trans legislation in numerous states. While President Biden’s agencies are reversing Trump era attacks, legal campaigns are underway to circumvent LGBTQ+ rights through various means, and the federal judiciary has skewed hard to the right.

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This Week In Portland Food News: Hey Love Reopens, A Cincinnati Chili Cart Arrives, and Fills Donuts Slings Burgers

The Jupiter NEXT Hotels 1970s-inspired cocktail bar Hey Love is back open with a revamped menu.
The Jupiter NEXT Hotel's 1970s-inspired cocktail bar Hey Love is back open with a revamped menu. Hey Love

The Portland food scene continues to come back to life: This week brings the return of Hey Love and Derby, the arrival of Cascade Chili Co., and a brioche burger pop-up at Fills Donuts. Read on for all of that and more culinary developments. For more ideas, check out our food and drink guide.

NEW OPENINGS AND RETURNS


Cascade Chili Co.
Portlanders can now enjoy some saucy Cincinnati-style chili, thanks to a new cart called Cascade Chili Co. joining the Milwaukie Station food cart pod on Tuesday. The regional specialty was invented by Macedonian immigrant restaurateurs in the 1920s and consists of a meat sauce seasoned with Mediterranean spices like cinnamon, allspice, and clove. The menu at Cascade Chili Co. includes both beef and vegan versions of the dish, with options to have it served over spaghetti or Coney dogs (as is traditional).
Milwaukie
Pickup

Read on EverOut »

POP QUIZ PDX: Test Your Portland Knowledge for the Week of June 13-18!

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Sure, you're smart... but are you PORTLAND SMART? Find out by taking the weekly POP QUIZ PDX, published every Friday with tons of fun, sassy-pants questions about what happened in the city this past week.

But first: Let's see how you did on last week's quiz! More people than ever scored in the 80 point range, and as usual, our weekly "subjective" question was a real head-scratcher... but for the first time ever, a majority of people got it right! MAROON 5 SUCKS SO HARD!

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Want to take our previous quizzes? You can do that RIGHT HERE! And, so you can brag to your friends, here's how the test is scored:

100 points = "I am a goddamn genius!"
90 = "I am almost a goddamn genius."
80 = "I am achingly close to genius-ness."
70 = "I may not be a genius, but I'm pretty dang smart."
60 = "I am somewhat smart."
50 or below = "What am smart?"

Whoopee! Take this week's POP QUIZ PDX below, and come back next Friday for a new quiz!

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The Language of Pride: Reassessing the Labels We’re Given

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miakievy / Getty Images

Happy Pride, Portland! This week, the Mercury is running a series of opinion pieces and personal essays from LGBTQ+ Portlanders on the theme Pride 2021: Queer Beginnings. As we emerge out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we're all re-evaluating and re-imagining things, and that includes queer life and how we observe Pride. Here's the fifth entry.

Every year, Pride evolves into something a little new. One thing that never seems to change—and perhaps never should—is the pride we take in our labels. Studs, leather daddies, butch queens, switches, otters, and all the rest: We love them all. Each of these esoteric labels declares our tribal allegiance. These labels belong to us, because they are borne of our collective imagination and limitless creativity.

However, for better or for worse, these self-ascribed labels remain virtually unknown outside of our own communities. As far as outsiders are concerned, we are simply lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual. “The Alphabet People.” For the sake of brevity, we wear these labels with equal pride, though not one of them is of our own personal creation. Even when they can be derogatory, dehumanizing, or pathologizing, these labels have been assigned to us, no less than one’s gender at birth.

Of course, these “outside" labels retain a degree of strength and meaning, and I wouldn’t dare claim authority to tell anyone else which label (if any) to apply to their own identity. I would, however, argue that some of the language of Pride is in desperate need of revision. What follows are just a few of my least favorite terms, and a handful of possible alternatives.

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Good Morning, News: Preventing a July 1 Mass Eviction, Heatwave Scorches West, and How to Celebrate Juneteenth and Pride in Portland

The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support!

The author celebrating Pride in his own distinct manner during Portlands Pride parade, circa 2019. Good times... good times.
The author celebrating Pride in his own distinct manner during Portland's Pride parade, circa 2019. Good times... good times. Portland Mercury

GOOD MORNING, PORTLAND! The more that I see you, the more I know that love belongs. With you in my mind, boy, I wouldn't know what's right from wrong. LET'S GO TO PRESS.

IN LOCAL NEWS:

• Saturday marks the new federal holiday Juneteenth—which commemorates the day slavery (not the modern kind, but the old timey kind) ended. Here's a bunch of great ways you can celebrate this holiday in Portland!

• A bill that could temporarily avoid an Oregon housing crisis on July 1 passed the House yesterday, and could be voted on by the Senate as early as Monday. SB 278 would give more than 10,000 renters a 60 day reprieve from being evicted as long as they let their landlords know they've applied for rental assistance which has been delayed.

• The entire Portland Police Rapid Response Team—responsible for most of the violence inflicted on local protesters last summer—have resigned from the team en masse following criminal assault charges brought against one of their own, who brutally beat down a photojournalist last year. Waitasecond... if they resign, who's going to beat, gas, and fire munitions at people practicing their First Amendment rights? Our Alex Zielinski has more.

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Good Afternoon, News: Hopeful Renter News, Snowflake Cop Team Resigns, and Juneteenth Is a Federal Holiday

President Biden signs the law making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
President Biden signs the law making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support!

IN LOCAL NEWS:

• Good news, renters! The Oregon House has unanimously passed SB 278 which will protect renters for 60 days from being evicted if they apply for rental assistance and let their landlords know. Read about how the end of the rent moratorium is impacting renters here.

• More snowflake drama from the endlessly complaining Portland Police: The entire Rapid Response Team—responsible for most of the violence inflicted on local protesters last summer—have resigned from the team en masse following criminal assault charges brought against one of their own, who brutally beat down a photojournalist last year. Would you like to pop the champagne, or shall I? (In any case, our Alex Zielinski has a great story about it.)

• Speaking of crybabies, Republican snowflakes are kicking off a recall campaign for one of their own state senators, Lynn Findley of Vale, who had the audacity to (gasp!) vote in favor of a gun control bill that will actually save the lives of some of his constituents. But... you do you, GOP!

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Advocates Say City Has Opportunity to Stop Zenith Expansion, City Officials Unsure

People sit on the grass in front of a cluster of people with a microphone. There are several sunflower umbrellas people are using to shade themselves from the sun.
Community members listen to environmental advocates speak about Zenith's potential expansion during a 'Stop Zenith' rally at Cully Park in early June. Isabella Garcia / Portland Mercury

Zenith Energy, a crude oil company, transports over 200 million gallons of oil per year through its facility in Northwest Portland. Now, it's asking the city if it can expand its operation even more.

Environmental advocates say the City of Portland, which has promised to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, has an opportunity to stop the expansion and possibly shut down Zenith’s operations completely by not authorizing a land use document the facility needs to expand and operate. City officials, however, say they may be legally bound to greenlight Zenith’s expansion.

Zenith has been making waves in Portland since 2017, when the company acquired its facility from Arc Logistics, a fellow crude oil company, and immediately started ramping up its operation. When it was acquired, Zenith’s facility had space to unload 12 tanks of oil per day. Using permits granted to Arc Logistics, the company built three new railcar platforms and had enough infrastructure to unload 44 tanks of oil per day by the end of 2018. Each tank holds about 20,000 gallons of crude oil.

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Takeout Club: House of Banh Mi Is Portland Cà Phê's Sandwich Source

House Special from House of Banh Mi
House Special from House of Banh Mi Suzette Smith

Since it opened in April, Vietnamese coffee shop, Portland Cà Phê, has gathered a well deserved buzz—due to the passion and prowess of its owner, coffee roaster Kim Dam. Eater PDX just pushed a lovely longread, profiling Dam and a new generation of immigrant and first-generation coffee roasters.

But what immediately caught my eye about the new cafe is that you can now actually grip a House of Banh Mi sandwich somewhere other than Montavilla, where Dam's family has been quietly kicking out delicious food and drink in this city for years. Somewhere within this rising cafe and important conversation about coffee, it's nice to see a little attention trickle down to Dam's family sandwich shop because the ones made at House of Banh Mi are some of the freshest, crispiest, fluffiest, and crunchiest banh mi sandwiches in town.

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INTERVIEW: Moorea Masa Discusses Recent "Lion" Music Video, Her New Project, and Mixed Identity

Moorea Masa
Moorea Masa Ashley Walters

Born-and-raised Portlander Moorea Masa had been wanting to move to Los Angeles since before the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the United States—but once COVID hit, she initially thought she and her partner would have to put her move on hold.

“And then this really, really amazing spot opened up,” she says via phone, while driving to her home in LA traffic. Masa says she connected with Raquel Rodriguez of the distinguished Blue Dream Studios and became part of a community of working musicians in the View Park neighborhood. “We just came here to be a part of the community and be in the sunshine a little bit. Sorry, I love you, Portland, but I cannot do a winter like locked away,” Masa says of the 2020 move.

Moorea Masa and the Mood is what she calls her band of support, whoever that may involve at the time—the ones helping her set the mood. "I had a pretty solid band that I had been working with for years and years in Portland. And my drummer, Micah Hummel, was on a lot of my record. Now the mood is like my friends in LA, so it's been like, you know, whoever is free?," she says with a laugh.

The singer-songwriter wrote her latest project, Heart in the Wild: Side A, with her partner Steve Watkins, along with another musician couple: singer Jess Best and engineer Connor Shultze. “Jess is an artist and I met [her and Connor ] in New York and then I just invited them to Portland,” she explains. Since Moorea Masa had a studio in the Falcon Arts building in North Portland at the time, “we literally just locked ourselves in the studio and would make breakfast, go there in the morning and I’d come home at like one in the morning,” she says.

Released on April 30, Heart in the Wild: Side A is about Moorea Masa’s complicated relationship with her estranged mother, a Black queer woman who suffers from debilitating mental illness.

“For a long time I've wanted to write about my mom and I just wasn't quite ready. In the last couple of years I've had to completely cut contact with her for my physical safety,” says the singer. In the last two years Masa has finally been able to write about the relationship, and the process has been healing for her. “It's also been really hard," she says. "I feel like in the time where I was writing, I was just really diving into these things, [and it] isn't easy to just sit with those feelings and really go deep into them." Masa says it's also been hard and a little scary to release the record in general. "I feel like it's super vulnerable to put that stuff out there and just be like, ‘Okay, I'm going to put my most intimate fears and feelings out into the world,’” she says, adding “but, you know, it has been really beautiful.”

Additionally, Masa says “It's been really cool to get messages [of the project] impacting other people who are like, ‘I have had a similar experience, and this is how your music impacted me.’"

"When we are able to talk about mental illness, when we’re able to talk about our experiences, our heartache, it just makes it easier," she adds. "It's like we’re not all having to hold it on our own and it also takes away a lot of our shame... that is really healing for me to just be able to share that with other people; I'm helping somebody else feel less alone. And that is really important to me. It's the reason why I bare my soul.”

Continue reading »

NewsCops

Portland Officers Resign En Masse from Police Team Assigned to Protests

RRT officers gathered at a protest in downtown Portland in February 2020.
RRT officers gathered at a protest in downtown Portland in February 2020. Doug Brown

The members of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) unit assigned to respond to protests and other crowd control situations voted to resign from the unit en masse Wednesday evening, according to several City Hall staffers.

The mass resignation from the Rapid Response Team (RRT) comes a day after charges were filed against RRT officer Corey Budworth for hitting a woman with a baton during an August demonstration.

In a Thursday morning press release, PPB explained that the 50 members who comprised the RRT have not left their jobs at the police bureau.

"[The RRT's] members were sworn employees of the Portland Police who served on RRT in addition to their daily assignment in the Bureau," reads the press statement. "Despite no longer serving on RRT, they will continue in their regular assignments."

Update, 12 pm:

In a morning media call, PPB Deputy Chief Chris Davis said he believed the mass resignation wasn’t simply due to Budworth’s indictment.

“As I understand the situation, I think that really this is the culmination of a very long process,” said Davis. “I think this has very deep roots in some really just... unbelievable things that [RRT officers] have been subjected to over the last 14 months, particularly in the second half of 2020. I understand their perspective. If you put a human being through what they were put through, that takes a toll.”

Davis, who is currently serving as PPB’s acting chief while PPB Chief Chuck Lovell attends training out-of-state, said officers did mention Budworth’s criminal charges in their resignation letter. Davis said he supports Multnomah County District Attorney Schmidt’s commitment to holding people accountable—including PPB officers—for criminal activity.

“I would expect the DA to act in good faith to address any criminal issues that come up among our members,” Davis said.

Schmidt released a statement on the mass resignation shortly after the press conference concluded.

“I have confidence that the [Police] Bureau will continue their mission to maintain public safety," said Schmidt. "In the meantime, my office will continue to focus on the fair and just prosecution of criminal matters. We cannot expect the community to trust law enforcement if we hold ourselves to a lower standard.”

With the entire RRT unit effectively shuttered through the resignations, Davis said PPB is still prepared to respond to the kind of crowd control events the team historically focused on.

“If there is an event tonight, we will use on-duty patrol sources to respond,” said Davis. “We will make sure we have as close to adequate resources as we have.”

Davis said PPB management can still order former RRT members to respond to “lawful directions” regarding crowd control events, since they’re still police bureau employees. He’s also met with outside law enforcement agencies to ask for their support if needed during incidents that usually require an RRT response.

The police bureau will need to develop a short-term and long-term plan to make up for the loss of the RRT team, according to Davis. “We’ll have to find a way to adapt,” he said.

Asked if he had ever seen this kind of mass resignation during his career in law enforcement, Davis responded quickly: “No.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler echoed Davis in a statement sent after the press conference.

"Resigning members of the Rapid Response Team remain sworn members of the Portland Police Bureau," said Wheeler. "I want to acknowledge the toll this past year has taken on them and their families—they have worked long hours under difficult conditions. I personally heard from some of them today, and I appreciate their willingness to share their concerns about managing the many public gatherings that often were violent and destructive."

Wheeler, who serves as the city's police commissioner, said he's directed PPB to prepare mobile field forces to respond to any public safety needs, "including potential violence related to mass gatherings," and he's received confirmation from Governor Kate Brown that the Oregon State Police is on standby to assist PPB.

Original story, continued:

The news was first reported Thursday morning by KXL. According to the Oregonian, RRT members told PPB leadership that their decision to resign was based on the perceived lack of support from City Hall and the Multnomah County District Attorney's office over the course of the last year. Neither the mayor's office or the PPB have confirmed this reasoning to the Mercury.

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I Redefined My Sexuality and I've Never Felt Better

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Malte Mueller / Getty Images

Happy Pride, Portland! This week, the Mercury is running a series of opinion pieces and personal essays from LGBTQ+ Portlanders on the theme Pride 2021: Queer Beginnings. As we emerge out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we're all re-evaluating and re-imagining things, and that includes queer life and how we observe Pride. Here's the fourth entry.

I thought I was done coming out.

Nine years ago I came out as bisexual (twice to my parents) and then again more publicly in an essay for a magazine at my university. When I started dating my now live-in girlfriend, Stephanie, I figured that was explanation enough.

But in recent years, I stopped connecting with the bisexual label. I was more interested in pursuing relationships with women and femme people, and being with a man or masculine nonbinary person just didn’t feel quite right. At first I shrugged it off as just heavily preferring one particular gender over others, which is common among bisexual people. But in reality it was more than that. This year, on International Women’s Day, I came out to myself as a lesbian—although I use lesbian and sapphic interchangeably. Even though I had adopted the term sapphic last year, I realized it was time for me to dive deeper into why I was avoiding “the L-word.”

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Good Morning, News: Vaccine Efforts Move East of 82nd, July Rent Worries Portlanders, and Obamacare Upheld (Again)

The Mercury provides news and fun every single day—but your help is essential. If you believe Portland benefits from smart, local journalism and arts coverage, please consider making a small monthly contribution, because without you, there is no us. Thanks for your support!

MOTOYA_NAKAMURA___MULTNOMAH_COUNTY.jpeg
MOTOYA NAKAMURA / MULTNOMAH COUNTY

Good morning, Portland! Head's up: This Sunday is Father's Day! Do you have plans yet for your dad or father figure?

Here are the headlines.

• A group of Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers who worked on the bureau's Rapid Response Team—which polices protests—resigned in unison from the team last night, though they will remain PPB officers. The resignations come just two days after one of their own was charged with fourth-degree assault against a photojournalist at a protest last summer. There are scant details out there right now, but expect to hear more about this one throughout the day.

• Data from a recent US Census poll shows that at least 5 percent of Oregon renters were confident they couldn’t pay June rent, with another Census survey showing that 27 percent of tenants were behind on rent payments in May. While state legislation has granted Oregon tenants until February 2022 to repay rent missed during the pandemic, there are few protections for renters whose finances haven’t yet recovered from the pandemic’s economic downturn—keeping them from having rent money for July 1, when the rent moratorium is lifted.

• The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized has dropped dramatically in the last few months, from an average of 125,000 nationwide in January to 16,000 now. But across the nation and in Portland, there are still patients severely sick with COVID-19—and almost all of them are unvaccinated.

• And another legal challenge to Obamacare bites the dust:

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