It's nearly June, and Portland's gang violence is heating up again. According to numbers released today by the city's Office of Youth Violence Prevention, Portland's seen 50 gang-related attacks so far in 2014, compared to 34 at the same time last year.
It's disheartening sign, obviously, for the people and organizations working against gang violence. As the Mercury reported last year, the city's seen a perplexing and worrisome uptick in gang-related attacks in recent years. Those incidents have increasingly moved from the old hotbed of north and inner northeast Portland. These days, gang cops spend just as much time patrolling east Portland. Gresham's seen increased violence, too.
"In 2014 to date, victims of violent crimes have been injured and traumatized, community members have been endangered, witnesses have been intimidated, and families have fallen victim to associated trauma," reads an e-mail sent out today by Tom Peavey, a former gang cop and current policy manager for the Office of Youth Violence Prevention. "As the weather improves in combination with pending seasonal events, school graduation and summer vacation for school age youth, we need to have an active VOICE in sponsorship of safe environments for our youth, families and all members of our community."
In 2012, Portland cops dealt with 118 attacks, the most officers remembered seeing in nearly two decades. While that number fell in 2013, last year—particularly the tail end—actually saw more actual gunshot and stabbing victims. To get a better handle on the dynamics of Portland's gang culture, local governments are in the midst of studying the problem afresh.
The next meeting of the city's Gang Violence Task Force is at 10 a.m. June 6, at the Portland Police Bureau's North Precinct.