Youth forum focuses on improving police-community relations

Event takes places Tuesday May 16th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the CENTER in N. Portland

Portland Police. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – On Tuesday, a youth-led police-community forum will be held to share perspectives and engage in dialogue over police use-of-force issues and police-community relations.

The event is being organized by Grace Masback, her brother, Britt, and several other students from area schools including Catlin Gabel. The group is called Police Peace PDX.

The event will take place Tuesday May 16th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the CENTER, which is located at 3510 N. Vancouver Ave.

Last year, the Masback siblings helped organize a similar forum on police use of force. They brought together a police officer, prosecutor, Don’t Shoot Portland activist, college professor and public defender to share their experiences.

“The event created an environment for meaningful dialogue around these traditionally contentious issues,” Britt Masback said.

Britt Masback said an organization that he help found, Youth Educating Police, aims to address five key components: Insular thought, Lack of local government engagement, Race, Accountability, and Lack of an official means for youth to have voice on the issue. YEP works closely with Police Peace PDX.

“A lot of people have this implicit bias and these feelings they don’t want to get rid of,” he said.

Often times following an officer involved shooting, distrust against the police will grow. On the national level, there have been several violent protests following police involved shootings.

“People think that’s representative of the whole police department but of course most police officers want to help the community and that’s what people should think,” Britt Masback said. “The police are kind of an extension of the community but right now they’re kind of seen as the bad guys.”

Grace Masback said Portland is a “microcosm” of the United States when it comes to police-community relations.

“We found that this was a very polarizing issue,” she said. “I think dialogue is an important first step. We have to get people talking and we have to get peoples’ minds open.”

Attendance for Tuesday’s event is open to the public. Organizers are asking to people to RSVP by clicking here.