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Mother, son share story of gang violence

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Vince Jones and his mother, Kimberly Dixon, share how their lives have been impacted by gang violence. They talked with The Outlook at the Park Place Cafe in Rockwood.Vince Jones wants to help the Rockwood community have the tough conversations like the ones he wishes he had the chance to have with his brother who was shot to death outside a Rockwood apartment complex in 2013.

Public speaking does not come naturally to Jones, but he recently spoke about his brother’s death at the Sunrise Center for an event called “Who is Rockwood,” aimed to share stories and open the lines of dialogue between community members and the issues that affect them such as gangs and gun violence.

Jones was joined by his wife, Mesha, and his mother, Kimberly Dixon. The event was an idea Mesha Jones came up with for a class project at Eastern Oregon University. The couple then paired up with the Rockwood Community Development Corporation to make it happen.

Andreas Prince Jones, one of Dixon’s 10 children, was shot and killed while hanging out at the Rockwood Station apartments, 19100 E. Burnside St., on June 9, 2013. More than a year later, Demetrius Brown was accused of the fatal shooting, and his trial is set to begin this summer.

Dixon found out about the shooting during a happy family gathering. Every year she plans a kickball game for her 10 children, their spouses and her grandchildren.

“We all come together and Dre (Andreas) was the only one who wasn’t there,” Vince Jones said. “He had planned to be there and then at the end of the game, that’s when we found out.”

Dixon continued, “We were all walking to our cars, laughing, and in the midst of that laughter, she (my daughter-in-law) is yelling to me but I’m missing it. She finally goes, ‘Mom, Andreas has been shot’.”

That is the story the family shared at “Who is Rockwood” in an effort to spread awareness and also help a community riddled with gang violence.

By chance, one of the people at the event was a woman who was looking out her window and saw Andreas Jones get shot. Following their story, the woman cried and hugged Dixon and Vince Jones.

“I am the parent of a son who has been murdered,” Dixon said. “I need to heal, but the community as a whole needs to heal as well.”

Dixon describes herself as in involved mother. She always joined the parent-teacher associations and remained active in her children’s lives. She said Andreas Jones was a math whiz who had dropped out of high school early and received his general equivalency degree at 16. But at 21, when he was shot, he had planed to go to culinary school, Dixon said. She reveals a tattoo on her arm with Andreas’ Hawaiian name, Ke’Akamai, meaning “the intelligent one.”

Vince Jones said Andreas had also talked to him before his death about tutoring kids in math and helping to deter them from “getting plugged into the gang lifestyle.”

Although both mother and brother knew Andreas was in a gang, they are still unsure of how or why he was in Rockwood the day he was killed.

By the time he turned 21, Andreas had a probation officer and a growing list of charges including menacing, disorderly conduct, possession of cocaine and criminal trespassing.

Dixon said there was no affiliation with gang or drug use in her family, so when she found out Andreas had a probation officer who said he was in a gang, things stopped making sense to her.

“These are kids I probably know. I’m trying to wrap my head around that kids I know are in a gang,” Dixon said.

“The conversation for me and Andreas was, ‘Son, this is not how you were raised. Where do you see yourself five years from now? How will this get you to your goals’?” Dixon recalled. “(He said) ‘I know mom.’ He knew. He knew he was not on the trajectory he should be on.”

Soon after Andreas’ death, Dixon joined Enough is Enough, an organization with the mission of ending gun violence. Part of that begins with talking about gun violence.

“How do you engage with the thing you don’t want to see?” Dixon said. “The thing is, most of the community wants the police to contain whatever the awful element is. It doesn’t work that way. We’re all impacted.”

She doesn’t want gang shootings to be part of the norm in Rockwood, which is why Vince Jones will work with the Rockwood CDC to find a way to continue the community conversation about gun violence.

“It’s important for all of us to say, ‘I have to be involved,’” Dixon said. “It’s a choice, but you ought to see it as an obligation. If we’re going to create a better city, a better community, then it requires us to be involved, to choose to engage.”

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