• Erik Ursin

Gang Violence Task Force meetings don't typically involve tears.

Depending on the cruel vacillations of Portland's gang attacks—so rare earlier this year before a rash of recent homicides—the semimonthly gatherings might see concerns vented or a bout of cheery kudos.

Never tears, though, and rarely conflict. Which is what made Pastor Dwight Minnieweather's speech on a recent Friday noteworthy.

"I have a son," Minnieweather said, standing up abruptly as the December 6 meeting of the task force wound down. "He's eight years old, and I don't want to see him shot or killed. Why are we talking about every other subject?"

The pastor, who leads local outreach organization Straightway Services, is a regular at the task force meetings. And he frequently brings along former gang members to listen to the discussions. He's got cachet in the group—along with a reputation for being able to secure hot dog buns for community functions.

But Minnieweather's frustration has some obvious roots. Portland has seen a relative explosion in gang violence over the last several years, and 2013 was bloodier than most.