Lillard: ‘Making own city less safe not the answer’

Blazers star talked with ESPN, urged protesters to find peaceful alternatives

Damian Lillard at practice the day before the Blazers regular season began, October 24, 2016 (KOIN)
Damian Lillard at practice the day before the Blazers regular season began, October 24, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Blazers star Damian Lillard told ESPN protesters “tearing apart” the city of Portland “isn’t the answer” or the way to bring about change.

Four 4 straight nights, protesters have overtaken the streets of Portland following the election of Donald Trump as president. Anarchists joined the protest marches, which spawned vandalism and graffiti and escalated early Saturday morning into one person being shot on the Morrison Bridge.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that people have done some of the things they have done during the protest. A lot of harm and damage has been done,” Lillard told ESPN on Saturday. “I do understand their frustration, and I commend people wanting to come together for some kind of change. Tearing apart your own city just isn’t the place to begin, and also making your own city less of a safe place isn’t the answer.”

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Lillard was disheartened about the shooting and noted it “could have been a kid out there or any person catching a stray bullet.”

Sgt. Pete Simpson said they have arrested 2 suspects for attempted murder for the shooting of a man on the Morrison Bridge. He said there is a gang connection with the suspects. The victim is expected to recover.

Saturday afternoon Mayor Charlie Hales said, “I’m really heartsick that our local small businesses who had no culpability in what happened in this election, far from it, have been harmed by people that just wanted to exploit the protest to raise hell. I’m really sorry that that’s happened.”

Portland and Lillard have embraced each other in the 5 seasons since he was drafted. He’s clearly a team leader and is increasingly a leader in the city, and he told ESPN he wants the agitators to choose another way.

“This type of activity doesn’t even seem to fit the description of Portland,” Lillard told ESPN. “Especially when the majority of the people here voted for Hillary. So if this is an anti-Trump rally, then you’re probably harming the people that you side with in most cases. So again I share the same worry, but I don’t think this is the solution.”