The group is claiming that a new policy requiring old brick buildings to display public warnings signs that they may collapse in the event of an earthquake is somehow part of a systematic racist plot.
The policy impacts about 1,600 unreinforced masonry buildings that are on average 90 years old. However, many are in areas with predominantly black populations.
According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, displaying the warnings “exacerbates a long history of systemic and structural betrayals of trust and policies of displacement, demolition, and dispossession predicated on classism, racism, and white supremacy.”
Many people have a hard time believing that outrageous complaint.
The NAACP has whined the new policy “will make it tougher for owners of brick buildings to get loans and will discourage investment.”
They said buildings “will have to be sold, and that developers will demolish and redevelop, increasing the cost to live there and forcing current residents out.”
“It speaks to our houses of worship and everything about the black presence in the North-Northeast area,” said the Rev. E.D. Mondaine, a pastor at Celebration Tabernacle Church and president of the Portland NAACP.
Officials explained the ordinance is part of an effort to improve public safety and ensure older buildings to withstand an earthquake, but construction upgrades likely wouldn’t be required for at least 20 years.
“Experts say Portland is at risk because there’s close to a 50 percent chance of a giant earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Oregon coast in the next 50 years.”
The compliance and signs are “really just a disclosure,” said Alex Cousins, a spokesman for the city Bureau of Development Services.
“In related action, a nonprofit coalition of Portland brick building owners recently filed a lawsuit seeking to block the ordinance, arguing it’s unconstitutional under free-speech and due-process rights.”
“The government is forcing private property owners to basically broadcast the government’s message instead of their own,” said John DiLorenzo, an attorney for the group.
Again, it seems bizarre that people would fight a measure that seeks to ensure safety. Many people ask what if the ordinance is blocked, and then an earthquake hits and people are killed in these buildings. Would the NAACP and brick building owners be responsible for those deaths?
A coalition called MusicPortland has also joined the NAACP because the ordinance threatens some 30 of its music venues.