Bridge the divide to end violence
I wish to make an appeal for improved relations between black and blue.- The easy thing to do is dwell on a past that includes former Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker's administration and his inability to figure out the nuances of good community relations. And you might still be angry at the way police handled the Kendra James shooting, or their past confrontations with local protesters.
Now we must look ahead; we must try and overcome past police controversies with kindness, and replace hatred with love.
I am pleading for the future. Mind you, this plea is not a pardon for police recklessness and callous behavior; mine is a plea for trust and understanding.
The recent shootings in Portland that left two dead and six injured underscore the need to revisit the issue of trust. Mistrust benefits only the bad guys who shoot first and then retreat behind a cloak of sealed lips and animosity toward the police.
What makes this a genuine tragedy is that an entire generation of young black kids like 14-year-old TyNiece McCorvey are losing their innocence in the most brutal manner. McCorvey is scarred forever. So I am pleading for life.
I agree with Sen. Margaret Carter, D-Portland, who says that adults need to step up and lead the way to stop this senseless violence.
When we shield those who deal crack cocaine in our community, and when we allow crack houses to thrive in our neighborhoods, we pay for it in pain, sacrifice and tears.
I refuse to accept the notion that these gang members are faceless. We know who they are: the tragic offspring of a nonchalant attitude toward the common good of a community. These shooters are young men pressed into the service of drugs, robbery and other criminal enterprises, seeking to maim at the least provocation.
It's welcome news that concerned citizens are donating reward money anonymously as incentive to help police flush out the perpetrators. It's also good to see the city's black leaders react forcefully to this spate of killings.
But community leaders must organize not just for the sake of organizing, but to express and enhance community values. As long as the culture of death and the denigration of women are acceptable lyrical themes in black music Ñ and as long as dope and dope-dealing find reception in a community Ñ all the organizing will be in vain.
Black adults must find a way to instill in our kids the realization that slinging guns at will brings large risks: prison, violence, death Ñ and no protection from the community.
I understand that a series of community forums are being planned to develop tools to deal with gang violence. That plan should include a strategy to teach children about morality, the sanctity of life and respect for fellow humans. Any further action should incite a dormant community into recognizing its moral failures.
Frankly, we've had enough blue-ribbon panels. It's time for action.