News & Politics

Riot Tourism: Portland Becoming a Popular Destination as Visitors 'Flock' to the 'Hot Zone'

Protests continue in Portland, Oregon. (Townhall Media/Julio Rosas)

With travel all but shut down during the pandemic, Portland has become one of the few travel hotspots still available. Evidently the protest scene is all the rage (no pun intended) due to its near-constant presence in the national spotlight. As protests have continued for 69 nights and counting, folks are coming to Portland to see what the fuss is all about. Who knew a riot zone could become such a popular tourist destination?

The Portland Tribune reports:

Guests flock to hot zone to see what social media, national news fuss is all about

They come from out of town.

They shoot through the fence.

They size up the building and the park opposite.

They’re the protest tourists who, for weeks now, have to come to check out the site of “the Battle of Portland” outside the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse and the Justice Center on Southwest Third Avenue. As mainstream media has swapped the Portlandia-hipster narrative for one of fire and flashbangs, spray paint and tear gas, tourists have been walking the streets, preferring to see for themselves.

Some come from the suburbs surrounding Portland. Some come from out of state. They come out of curiosity about the damage done. They come to see the “beautiful graffiti.” Mostly, it seems, they come to see if Portland really is as bad as it’s portrayed on social media and cable news.

Black Portlander Changes His Mind About the Nightly Protests After He Attends One

One woman from Lake Oswego, a wealthy suburb of Portland, told the Portland Tribune, “We’re not OK. I don’t like what they’re doing to our officers at all. This was so beautiful down here and they’ve wreaked havoc on this. It’s disgusting. They’re animals, is what I think.”

Another woman from Canby, about a half-hour south of Portland, showed her sister and brother-in-law around the protest scene as they visited from Reno. She said, “You can’t help but see this if you have social media, but in general I don’t watch a lot of news. Just because it’s depressing.” Her brother-in-law said, “I think some of it is an attempt to overthrow the system. It’s not really about George Floyd’s death, which was a terrible injustice. And thankfully the man who was responsible for that is being arrested and going to be charged with murder.”

A photojournalist from Los Angeles told the Tribune, “I’m very moved. It’s amazing to see the amount of expression the people here have. I wanted to see firsthand what the messages are, and if this is a matter of anarchy or reform.”

A doctor from Vancouver, Washington—just across the Columbia River from Portland—said, “I’m just trying to share with my kids what’s happening. They hear about it through videos on YouTube and TikTok. They’ve actually seen a lot of what’s going on and they’re more informed than you would think.” She said she probably wouldn’t come out at night when things typically heat up.

Portland is no stranger to protesters being driven in from out of town to bolster the number of people in the streets. Now, it seems, it’s also become the hot destination for protest tourism.

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at Jeff hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, and on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds.

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