An imposing fence surrounding the Apple store in downtown Portland is not a permanent fixture but could remain in place through mid-April, according to the company and city officials.
The tall metallic barrier appeared suddenly last week as boards covering the building came down and the store reopened for the first time since late May.
Its presence has prompted comparisons to a prison entrance or military checkpoint in a desolate city center still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, months of racial justice protests and occasional rioting.
It is also reminiscent of the barriers placed outside the Multnomah County Justice Center and Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse as demonstrators clashed nightly with police for most of last summer.
According to Apple, the fence will remain outside the store during a spate of construction that includes replacing its large glass panel windows.
Dylan Rivera, a spokesman with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, said the company has temporary street use permits along Southwest Yamhill Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues through at least April 12.
Apple’s glass-fronted store was among several downtown looted amid raucous protests spurred by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
The company covered its broken windows with black plywood, which artists promptly repurposed as a canvas for a civil rights mural that featured Floyd and other victims of police violence. Apple has since given the mural to Portland civil rights organization Don’t Shoot PDX.
A sign attached to the fence reads: “Apple stands with you in the fight for racial and social justice. Black Lives Matter.”
Apple’s downtown store still isn’t open for regular shopping. Customers can pick up online orders or schedule an appointment with the company’s customer service, but to shop in-person they must make an appointment and travel to Apple stores at Washington Square or Bridgeport Village.
The Oregonian/OregonLive’s Mike Rogoway contributed to this report.
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