PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland police are calling May the worst month for shootings in 16 years. On Monday, mothers and former gang members hit the streets to call for an end to gun violence in the area.
Two local women and former gang members are fighting to make a difference. They told KOIN 6 News they’re frightened by the 25 shootings they’ve seen in Portland over the last month.
“I’m tired of seeing this and I’m tired of them taking away my streets,” Lunita Renfrow with Neighborhoods Against Violence said. “I can’t even go to the park.”
This year, the group is planning to hold summer camps for at-risk children. They’re raising money to help kids join sports teams, pay for their schooling, and get them involved in anything to steer them away from gang life.
As former gang members, the women have a unique message for kids.
“If you don’t want to work with the police, work with someone who understands what you’re feeling, understands what you felt at one point in time,” Renfrow said. “Let us show you a different way to make a success out of yourself.”
But N.A.V. isn’t the only group fighting for the cause.
“It takes a village to raise a child, and it’s going to take all of us working together,” Laurie Palmer with Go Get Your Child said.
Palmer told KOIN 6 News she was pushed into action after her son was shot in January. Today, she’s standing by him, hoping others won’t have to go through the same thing.
“It’s out of control,” Palmer said. “If we don’t get a handle on it we’re going to have a blood bath by the time summer comes and it’s already happening.”
Go Get Your Child was formed with the goal of helping parents understand the role they can play to stop their children from getting involved with gangs. Palmer said she knows police need all the help they can get from local parents.
“They need people just like us because those are our kids in the street doing that,” she said. “Go talk to them because they’ll listen to us faster.”
Palmer said she hopes Portland’s leaders can collaborate with officials from other states and communities to bring in new ideas to combat gang violence.