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Stats: Gang violence exceeds last year's level

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Gang-related violence is Portland is already running ahead of last year’s record-breaking level.

There were 14 incidents of gang-related violence in Portland in January and five more through Feb. 8, according to data presented at last Friday’s meeting of the Community Peace Collaborative. That’s more than the 10 last January and on track to exceed the 14 last February. The 193 incidents in 2015 easily broke the official record of 118 in 2012.

A number of apparent incidents of gang violence occurred after the statistics were released, including a Feb. 13 shooting in East Portland where around three dozen shots were fired but no one was apparently injured.

Two surprise guests livened Friday’s gathering of police and others working on the gang violence issue.

One was Lamar Winston, the nationally-recognized linebacker from Central Catholic High School who has received a scholarship to attend the University of Oregon. He encouraged those in attendance — who included law enforcement officials, gang outreach workers, social service providers and neighborhood volunteers — to keep reaching out to at-risk young people.

“One thing I think is great is the constant caring and work you’re doing with the kids in the community. I have friends who’ve gotten back on track because of your efforts,” said Winston, the 18th-best outside linebacker prospect in the Class of 2016, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.

Winston and his parents know the toll that gang violence takes. His older brother, Ray Ray Winston, is believed to be the first gang member killed in Portland on Aug. 17, 1988, in Columbia Villa.

The second guest was Tyler J. White, a sophomore at De La Salle North Catholic High School. Among other things, he is documenting the effects of gentrification in North and Northeast Portland on his blog at ilovethisplacepdx.org. It includes written profiles, audio interviews and videos.

“The blog is intended to foster a dialogue about the effects of gentrification by letting people tell their stories about how it affects them,” said White, who won a round of applause when he said he wants to be the president or secretary of state when he grows up.