Portland Deadly Violence Community Forum: “It takes all of us to make sure these kids are safe”
As city council grapples with how to spend money to make Portland’s streets safer, residents of a community forum on Friday urged commissioners to invest in popular ideas to try to slow the tide of murderous violence this year.
Maurice Fain spoke about the video meeting from the kitchen of his popular Southern Kitchen PDX soul food cart and urged all 100 people listening to him to get involved as he has and demand a change.
Fain moved to Portland from Georgia and now owns four businesses. He said he ran the âNext G Enterprise Program,â a six-week course teaching young people of color how to become entrepreneurs.
Hosheman Brown, director of the nonprofit Know me Now, said he was looking for volunteers to serve as mentors. Her group connects children with their parents in prison, then works with men and women when they are released to find housing and employment.
âIt takes all of us to make sure these kids are safe, learning the right things, and growing up to be productive adults,â Brown said. âTons of adults need great people to walk with them. We need positive people to support them on their new journey.
Will X runs a program called Black Men In Training which provides adult mentors, physical training and other services to young people.
He lost his brother in 1992 and “vowed to help save as many young people as possible from street violence,” according to his website. He was inspired by this work after attending the Million Man March in 1995.
He spoke out for the work of men with criminal records who are sincerely committed to giving back to the communities they once harmed.
âThese brothers need funding, so these men can roll out their programs in the community so that we can get these young people out before they wreak havoc in the community,â he said. âWe need real boots on the pitch.
The forum was hosted by the Interfaith Peace and Action Collaborative as well as the newly established Portland Peace Initiative, which hosts community listening sessions to get feedback on actions residents can take to address gun violence.
The city has recorded 73 homicides so far this year, surpassing its peak of 70 in 1987. Three-quarters of killings are due to gunfire. There have been 1,115 shootings through early November that have injured or killed 333 people, police said.
The violence has disproportionately affected people of color – more than half of those killed are black, Latino or Asian.
Speakers at the forum called on city and county leaders to devote more money and attention to neighborhood efforts and called on residents to volunteer with the groups.
âWe really need the community to stop being inactive and become active,â said Lionel Irving Jr., a gang social worker who started the nonprofit Love is Stronger. “Let’s save some of these kids and put the emphasis on visibility.”
Pastor Elmer Yarborough, who lost a cousin and nephew in two separate shootings last year in Portland, runs Black Boys Live which works to build relationships with elementary and middle school youth. He joined Irving in urging people to support grieving families and affected neighbors.
For Irving, that means people shouldn’t look away or miss a filming scene without trying to help if possible.
Dontae Riley said he works with at-risk students between the ages of 12 and 24 who attend alternative schools, in juvenile detention or in foster care through the Stars Mentoring program.
âThey don’t think they are worthy of it,â he said. He and others are trying to “re-energize them” and show them what they can accomplish, he said.
The forum was held with the support of Police2Peace, a national non-profit organization that advocates for community policing.
The organization, established in 2018 and based in Arizona, works with communities in Portland and Pasquotank County, North Carolina, to promote and showcase local resources to fight violence and share information with leaders. of the city and the public.
âIt is recognized that beyond just solving problems, it is time to invest in long-term programs, solutions and strategies to heal our communities,â said Lisa Broderick, Founder of Police2Peace.
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