Portland City Club forum to focus on ‘epidemic’ of violence

The Portland City Club event starts at 12:15 p.m. on Friday at the Sentinel Hotel.

File photo of crime scene tape (KOIN)
File photo of crime scene tape (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — On Friday, the Portland City Club will address this year’s increase in gang and gun violence.

“The City of Portland has witnessed an alarming increase in rates of violence this year. Shootings, murders, attempted murders and more are all occurring far too often. These crimes particularly impact our city’s communities of color,” the forum’s website states.

The forum, An Epidemic of Violence in Portland, will be moderated by Antoinette Edwards. She is the Director of Youth Violence Prevention for the city.

Appearing live on KOIN 6 News This Morning, Edwards said the conversation will focus on finding the root cause of the violence. She said there is a generational cycle that needs to be broken when it comes to youth who are involved in gang violence.

“We know that when people are hurt, they hurt others,” Edwards said.

The forum will have community members who will share their experiences about the trauma stemming from the violence.

“I want people to ask, ‘What can we do? How can we be a part of this community? How can we make a difference?’” Edwards said of her goals of the forum.

Edwards said the violence occurring in Portland is something the entire state needs to be concerned about.

“It affects everyone,” Edwards said. “We’re all connected. When you see this short clip on the news, I want folks to know that this is someone’s son or daughter someone’s father or mother.”

There have been nearly 170 acts of gang violence in the city of Portland since Jan. 1. According to the mayor’s office, most of the acts of gang violence have been shootings. More than 50 people have been injured, and 12 have been killed in acts of gang violence. Those killed are mostly young, African-American men, according to the mayor’s spokesperson, Sara Hottman.

““We do know that with our gang related piece specifically, we’ve seen such a sharp increase in gang shootings that unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before those translated into increased homicides,” Portland Police Sgt. Pete Simpson said.

Simpson said the bureau is challenged because years ago, when the city’s homicide rate was much higher, the violence was occurring in specific pockets of the city.

“Today, gang violence occurs in lots of places across the city,” Simpson said. “Twenty-five years ago, when we had a spike in shootings we could dump resources into a particular neighborhood and we could make arrests and get guns and get people off the streets.”

The bureau is still addressing crime today as it has many years ago, according to Simpson. They have street-level officers, gang officers, detectives and homicide detectives investigating the incidents that do occur, and the bureau works with parole and probation officers and community outreach organizations to stop the violence before it happens.

“At this point, we haven’t found a key strategy that somebody else (another law enforcement agency) is using that’s going to be more effect at what we’re doing now,” Simpson said.

The Portland City Club event starts at 12:15 p.m. on Friday at the Sentinel Hotel.

Tickets are required.

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