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Hales asks Portlanders to volunteer to stop growing gang violence

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Mayor Charlie Hales calls growing gang violence 'unprecedented.'Mayor Charlie Hales is lamenting the growing gang violence that claimed three lives this weekend, and is urging Portlanders to join community efforts to prevent it.

"My heart is with all of the families that have lost loved ones as we continue to experience a year of unprecedented violence here in Portland; gun violence is taking a terrible toll on our community," Hales said after at least four gang-related shootings where three other people were also wounded. The injuries included two women at a party at the Red Lion Jantzen Beach Hotel, where gang violence erupted early Sunday.

"A gun violence crisis has been growing nationally and here in Portland. More than 800 ammunition casings have been recovered in 135 gang-related shootings alone, with domestic violence and other incidents adding to that grim tally, Hales continued.

"We all have a part to play in saying, 'no' to more violence: Join 'Enough is Enough' and the Community Peace Collaborative; alert the police when you see violence; and most importantly, support our brave law enforcement officers as they work day and night to prevent more gun violence from ripping apart our community."

The Gang Enforcement Team had recorded 133 incidents of gang violence as of Sept. 24. That is 25 more than the official record of 118 for all of 2012 and 43 more than the 90 for all of last year.

Since then, at least 11 more suspected gang shootings have occurred, including two where the three people were killed.

Hales spokeswoman Sara Hottman added that courageous community members involved in “Enough Is Enough” have formed walking teams and support groups to have a visible presence on their streets and to offer support for people affected by gang violence. She also said public, nonprofit and faith organizations have partnered in the Community Peace Collaborative to work with the city to curb gang violence through supportive services and information exchange.

And, Hottman noted, the Portland Police Bureau has added officers to the Gang Enforcement Team. The mayor's Community Centers Initiative has also worked to stop young people from joining gangs by removing barriers to safe and healthy recreation.

"What more can be done? As Mayor Hales says, people can get involved in "Enough Is Enough," which partners with many organizations to provide several outreach and support groups; people can join the Community Peace Collaborative to help partners with gang outreach and gang violence prevention; and witnesses and people who know something can come forward to help police solve these crimes," Hottman said.