Portland cops guard dumpsters at Fred Meyer store to stop locals from taking discarded food amid power outage

Portland cops guard dumpsters at Fred Meyer store to stop locals from taking discarded food amid power outage
Portland locals gathered to take food items that the Fred Meyer store had discarded in a dumpster (Twitter/@JuniperLSimonis)

PORTLAND, OREGON: At least a dozen police officers clashed with a small group that had gathered outside a Northeast Portland Fred Meyer on Tuesday, February 16 as they tried to take food that had the store had thrown away in a dumpster. Thousands of perishable items were discarded by workers at the Hollywood West Fred Meyer because the store had lost power, like many others in the region, in an outage due to an ongoing winter storm, The Oregonian reported.

Mountains of packed meat, cheese, and juice were seen in social media images, in addition to whole turkeys and racks of ribs that had been thrown into two large dumpsters outside the store. According to the report, people started gathering at the store at about 2.30 pm hoping to salvage the food items. A couple of hours later, however, police officers showed up to guard the dumpsters and prevent people from taking the items.

Local resident Morgan Mckniff said employees were guarding the dumpsters when he showed up to get his hands on some of the discarded items. He then began filming the store's employees before they threatened to call the authorities. Mckniff said the store manager called the police shortly after, which is when he began streaming the interaction live on Instagram. “After that, other people started showing up and asking them, ‘Why are you guys guarding a dumpster?’” Mckniff told The Oregonian, recalling that about 15 people eventually gathered at the scene to pick up the tossed food items. At some point, a dozen police officers arrived at the scene and threatened locals with arrest, prompting the crowd to move across the street, Mckniff added.

Juniper Simonis, an environmental biologist and data scientist who documented the police presence at the scene, said officers initially threatened to arrest them for trespassing but eventually left, and those waiting to get food made their way over to the dumpsters. At least two dozen people were at the dumpsters as of 6.30 pm, salvaging whatever they could.

According to Simonis, the food was still in good condition owing to the cold weather. “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,” Simonis said on Twitter. “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.”


Netizens lashed out at Fred Meyer and Portland police for preventing "hungry people" from getting food. "Fred Meyer employees & armed security guard are opening packages & destroying food that they threw away in garbage bin so hungry people & ppl in need can’t get them. I’ve been boycotting Fred Meyer since they let non-maskers shop but this is the nail to the coffin," one tweeted.

"So, I just found out this EXACT Fred Meyer has hired police to guard the dumpsters filled with discarded food, in the middle of an ice storm in the middle of a pandemic. Stop saying it's poor people's fault that they suffer when these are the lengths corps go to ensure it," another added. "EXCUSE ME. Am I hearing this correctly? There is a bunch of perishable food items being dumped at a Fred Meyer and the police have shown up to stop people from taking it?? WHAT. I can’t deal with this," a third chimed in.



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