Portland failed Fallon Smart.
The bright and beautiful girl of just 15 years died on August 19th while walking across Hawthorne Boulevard. The person who killed her was driving 55-60 mph — more than twice the posted speed limit — and swerved around a stopped car just before impact.
This tragic event has shaken a large part of our community to the core. After a week of protests and visits to the scene of this tragic crime, a memorial ride returned to the site tonight.
It started at Salmon Street Fountain where several hundred people amassed and adorned their bikes with flowers before riding to Portland City Hall.
Many members of Fallon’s family were on the ride: her mom, her dad, her uncle, her grandma, her grandpa, her stepmom, and her little brother.
Fallon’s uncle, Shane Smart, spoke in front of City Hall. He said that, “There doesn’t have to be so much bureaucracy and red tape to make the streets safer.”
After massing at City Hall, the group was escorted by several Portland Police officers on motorcycles across the Hawthorne Bridge to the site of the collision at 43rd. (Special thanks to Portland Police for their help at this event. Their presence allowed us to ride to Hawthorne and 43rd without the indignity of taking side streets and they stopped traffic which allowed us to stay together as a group and take time to pay our respects to Fallon without worrying about any impatient drivers.)
At 43rd and Hawthorne there were several dozen people already there when we arrived. They were holding flowers and standing solemnly as groups of bicycle riders rolled up.
Just feet away from where Fallon’s body came to rest, her family members and friends from school bravely grabbed the microphone and shared their feelings in front of the crowd.
Fallon’s mom Fawn Lengvenis said that her daughter was very bright. She had tested off the charts for IQ and was a budding leader with that rare mix of smarts, humility and charisma. “She was one of those people,” Fawn Lengvenis said, “who would have progressed the whole society if she would have lived.”
Fallon’s dad also spoke. “Please… just… slow down,” was all he could get out before breaking down in tears and walking away.
It was an emotional night — a night that strengthens our resolve to do more to hold our leaders accountable and do everything we can to prevent this from ever happening again.
Below are more photos from the event…
I cried a lot tonight. I was overwhelmed with emotion once I stopped taking photos and sat in the street while I listened to Fallon’s family and friends speak. It was a mix of things that brought the tears. I grieve for Fallon and her family and friends. But I didn’t know her, so I think my sadness comes from being mad at myself for not doing more to prevent her death.
I’m sick of covering rides like this. Our streets are dominated by killing machines and the absurdity of that fills me with rage.
Portland is at a turning point. We must fight against the onslaught of traffic violence that’s taking over our neighborhoods — or it will consume us and there will be many more memorial rides in our future.
Thank you to all the activists who are out in the streets trying to make a difference.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Correction: This article originally misstated the name of Fallon Smart’s mother. Her name is Fawn Lengvenis, not Fawn Fallon. We regret the error.