Stabtown had 55 confirmed stabbings in 2019. The ‘confirmed’ part of that is important, more on that below. For those who don’t want to read are full analysis, skip to the Stabtown year-end summary.
Trends emerge from the stabbing data. Most (about two-thirds) are at night. Sunday and Monday were the most popular days of the week for stabbings, and April was by far the most popular month. In fact, April’s 11 stabbings were the most in a single month since Stabtown started resetting the clock.
There were six fewer confirmed stabbings than there were in 2018. That’s one less every two months.
Stabbers moved away from the inner east side. That was a popular stabbing area in 2018, but very few stabbings took place just over the river in 2019. Rather, stabbers concentrated their efforts downtown and in East Portland along Interstate 5. There also was an uptick in stabbings in North Portland. Check out the stabbings map to see where all 55 occurred. You can toggle last year’s layer on and off for comparison.
What do all of those stabby areas have in common? They’re all focal points for Stabtown’s homeless residents, places where the city looks the other way when tents go up, shantytowns like Hazelnut Grove and R2D2 persist, and petty crimes are a fact of daily life. The sad truth is that many Portlanders no longer feel safe walking their neighborhood streets. Even in broad daylight it’s not uncommon to see someone walking around with a machete or a hatchet. After dark? Forget about it.
Stabtown is the city that Mayor Ted Wheeler and the city council have allowed to happen. Heck, they’ve even facilitated it.
We’re not sure what the moment of crisis will be that will change how Portland’s leaders deal with the homeless crisis. This year, a homeless camper kidnapped, raped and stabbed a couple. Nothing changed in the aftermath. If that incident didn’t galvanize people to get serious about homelessness and bladed weapons on Stabtown’s streets, maybe nothing will.
What’s clear is that the current leaders don’t have any clue what to do. They keep throwing money at the problem, and the problem only gets worst. Meanwhile the homeless cheerleaders at The Mercury and Street Roots celebrate that cash going to service providers whose greatest goal is to keep the public money flowing and appeasing the conscience of a progressive community. Those publications and other advocates want everyone to believe that all are down on their luck when really far too many opt out and prey on society. They have no interest in following shelter rules when a machete and a broken car window is enough to get the next fix.
It’s an election year for council, and with the resignation of Nick Fish, four of the five seats are up for grabs. Unfortunately, the candidate who have emerged so far offer no hope that things will get better. Where is the visionary candidate who wants to say “No more” to illegal camping and stabbings? A few weeks remain before the filing deadline.
At Stabtown.com, we insist on confirmation that a stabbing occurred before we reset the clock. Anyone can call 911 to report a stabbing whether or not blood actually spilled. We rely on law enforcement, the media and a few other reliable sources for confirmation.
But what if some of those sources aren’t as reliable as we thought. For the first half of 2019, the pace of stabbings was well ahead of 2018. Then around the summer, confirmed stabbings started to drop off. Yet reported stabbings continued at a rapid clip. There was a disconnect.
We’ve spoken to some insiders at Portland Police. The rumor is that police press releases aren’t reporting stabbings. Unless the media is there or it’s particularly egregious, they just let it slide. They don’t lie, but they also don’t tell the public the whole truth.
We were skeptical when we heard this conspiracy theory, but watching the data seemed to bear it out. @PDXPoliceLog, which reports 911 calls on twitter, and the invaluable @PDXAlerts had dozens of stabbing calls that police never commented on. Some probably were false. Some stabbers and stabees might have left the scene before police arrived. But so many? There’s a disconnect.
Additional evidence came from news media who reported stabbers showing up in court for incidents that had occurred weeks or months before but had never been mentioned in a police release. Had a reporter not been in court that day, the stabbing might have remained unknown.
Using secrecy to prevent the Stabtown Clock from resetting is terrible leadership. We get it, Mayor Wheeler. It’s embarrassing that your city has become Stabtown, especially when you’re trying to run for re-election so you can run for governor in a couple of years. But keeping people in the dark about how many stabbings really happen isn’t the solution. We all know that it’s bad out there and only getting worse. Staunching the flow of information only prevents Portlanders from having a long overdue conversation about what to do about it that might actually work.
Stabtown.com will continue to reset the clock, and we’ll continue to demand confirmation first. Just remember that there are probably a lot more stabbings happening that go unconfirmed.
2019 stabbings in summary
- There were 55 confirmed stabbings in 2019. That was a little more than one per week.
- There were six fewer confirmed stabbings than in 2018, but was that the result of poor reporting?
- The highest concentration of stabbings was in the downtown core. Not coincidentally, this area has some of the highest concentrations of unchecked homeless camping in the city.
- The next highest concentration of stabbings was in East Portland, particularly along I-205. Again, out-of-control homeless camping is common in the area, especially along the multi-use path (MUP).
- There was a steep decline in stabbings in the inner east side compared with the previous year.
- The Stabtown interactive map allows you to compare stabbing locations in both years.
- Stabtown’s streets are more dangerous at night. Like last year, nearly two-thirds of stabbings occur after sunset.
- There was one double stabbing, one triple stabbing and one quadruple stabbing!
- There were five days with multiple stabbing incidents.
- April was the stabbiest month with 11. That was the most in a single month since Stabtown.com started tracking.
- Stabbers were overwhelmingly male and homeless.
- The only major holidays with stabbings were Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.