Six people arrested after downtown Portland food cart fight

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Police arrested six people in connection to a fight that broke out Monday afternoon at some downtown food carts.

The fight is believed to have been part of an ongoing conflict between food cart operators and "street youth," police said.

Amir Amani, the 31-year-old operator of the cart, Persian Plate, was apparently upset with the group of suspects after his neighboring food cart sustained a gas line cut earlier in the day Monday, police said.

Arrested were Tatiana D. Gutierrez, 18; Mathew A. Juniper, 21; James Paine, 21; Matthew Koontz, 23; Samuel G. Hambrick, 25; and Zachary L. Lloyd, 19.
The suspects could face charges of fourth-degree assault, menacing, harassment and second-degree disorderly conduct, according to a news release from the Portland Police Bureau.

Portland police officers had responded just before 4 p.m. to the food carts on SW Stark, between Second and Third Avenues.

As officers responded, they learned some of the people involved in the fight were armed with weapons, such as knives and sticks, or were being threatening, police said.

Another food cart owner, a man named Lefty, said he's fed up with the homeless young adults who hang out downtown and the vandalism and harassment he believes they're responsible for.

"They call themselves gutter punks. They have different names for their different gangs," he said. "We're harassed all the time by the street kids. They're down here every day panhandling. When people don't give them change, they call them names (and) threaten them."

He said the harassment turned violent when a gang of people surrounded him and fellow food cart owner, Amani, after the two men reported vandalism of a cart's gas line to police.

"If we didn't have something to fend them off, you know, it was like walking through a blender," Left said. "All of them had knives, and they attacked us. I mean, it was like a bad movie."

There were some injuries but none was serious.

KATU News reporter Lincoln Graves contributed to this report.