THE "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR" ARE BELOW THE EDITORIAL

From The Editor

Gun violence explodes in East Portland; City Council responsible
For context in interpreting this graph, the Portland task force to reduce gun violence was disbanded in early June of this year.
For context in interpreting this graph, the Portland task force to reduce gun violence was disbanded in early June of this year. (Compiled from PPB records)

In the present time, when so much of our city’s policy seems driven more by emotion than by logic, it seems to us that the decision to disband the Portland Police Bureau’s “Gun Violence Reduction Team” must have been more a philosophical than a practical one, because it certainly has put its citizens at greater risk. ALL of its citizens, throughout the city. And it presents more evidence that Portland’s outdated form of city government needs an overhaul.

The decision to discontinue a special task force to address gun violence was puzzling. There was, after all, plenty of statistics to show that at least parts of Portland have been victimized by a very serious problem with gun violence. Outer East Portland, in particular, was experiencing a steady drumbeat of shootings and killings by gunfire, and has been for years.

In fact, the Portland Police Gun Violence Reduction Team has long been a welcome resource there, to address the shootings, injuries, and killings east of S.E. 92nd Avenue of Roses for the residents of the most recently annexed section of the city. When the idea of eliminating this dedicated outreach was made public, there were many in this particularly racially and ethnically diverse part of Portland who cried out in protest and alarm.

As far as we can tell, their voices were not heard downtown in City Hall by a City Council without any members representing their part of town, and the Council seemed to ignore the statistical evidence of what such a decision would lead to in East Portland.

Now, very swiftly, it has indeed led to a drastic increase in random and targeted gun violence, and a sharp rise in homicide by gunfire, in Outer East Portland. Those who follow the online newspaper serving that area – http://www.eastPDXnews.com – have seen this documented, although we imagine that the members of the Portland City Council have not been among them.

Our quaint and outdated form of city government provides no geographical representation of the city at large, and it appears to us that the current Council primarily focuses on Downtown Portland. Probably, based on their number of visits there, the Counselors would have had no cause or interest to follow the news in Outer East Portland.

Not only are there now abruptly many more shooting incidents, and deaths by gunfire, compared to when the GRVT was still responding to them, but there are now clear signs that those committing these incidents feel totally free to do so – one recent single shooting incident, which didn’t even result in a fatality, involved the firing of in excess of 150 bullets at a single location in a residential area, near a college. 150 bullets.

To be specific, it appears that this particular fusillade of bullets may have been retaliation for another shooting nearby four days earlier:

On Saturday, July 27, a 19-year-old whose given name was apparently “Mister Ford” was shot several times and died on the pavement near apartments on N.E. 87th Avenue, north of Glisan Street, and adjacent to Multnomah University.

Just four days afterward, at about 11 p.m., that hailstorm of bullets flew in the 600 Block of N.E. 87th Avenue. A police spokesperson reported that, “One round struck an adult female victim in an arm; officers applied a tourniquet, and she was transported to the hospital by ambulance with what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries.” No other injuries were reported at that time, but officers later found that some of the bullets had struck at least eight occupied apartments and seven vehicles.

We are not cherry-picking this incident. There have been many others like it – sometimes several per day – since the Portland Police Bureau Gun Violence Reduction Team was disbanded. This was simply the one with the most bullets fired.

Residents of Outer East Portland are beginning to talk publicly about moving away from where they live, in fear of their lives; and some recently have already done so.

Portland residents, no matter in what part of the city they live, and regardless of race, creed, color, religion, and sexual orientation, are entitled to protection from violence and the risk of personal harm – and it is clear that in Outer East Portland this right has little importance to the Portland City Council. Even with this explosion of gun violence as a result of their action, there seems to be – as far as we can tell – an indifference to it, despite the outcome now being clearly documented.

There is, appearing with this editorial, a graph of homicides in the City of Portland – before and after the disbanding of the GVRT. There is no subtlety or nuance in just what happened when the Gun Violence Reduction Team was withdrawn from the streets of our city. This graph was prepared by the Portland Police Association, which has its own point of view, but the graph is composed of documented incidents from city records.

Bear in mind the graph just shows the trend in homicides. There has been an even sharper and higher rise in shootings in which there were no deaths. It’s becoming a shooting gallery out there in Outer East Portland, and it’s now moving west – we report two shooting incidents west of 82nd in this issue of THE BEE.

This sharp rise in shootings is not news to the people in that part of Portland – among them are many of the ethnic minorities and immigrants who have come to our city. Some came here as refugees, seeking peace and freedom. Now they face fear and violence. People – residents of the City of Portland – are injured and dying by gun violence.

We hope the Portland City Council, confronted with this evidence, will reconsider their decision to disband the Gun Violence Reduction Team.

And, whether the City Council takes the necessary step to restore it or not, it seems clear that it is past time to update our quaint and unrepresentative form of city government. This is the second time THE BEE has had to write an editorial, recently, calling for such reform.

We live in one of the 25th largest metropolitan areas in the country, and we are still governed by only five individuals, elected with no mandate for geographical representation, whose personal agendas have a disproportionately large effect on the city, its Bureaus, and all of its services, and all of its residents.

It is time for Portland residents throughout the city, and not just Downtown, to have much more of a say in the form of government they live under.


Letters to the Editor

Portland in a nutshell

 Editor,

The August edition of THE BEE captured Portland in a nutshell. The stories: SERT nabs prowler with a pistol near Sellwood Park; tree collapse hits van at Powell Park, kills one; and car strikes pedestrian crossing Mcloughlin Blvd – all involved homeless people. All the incidents created a danger to the public, and burden on first responders and taxpayers. Portland politicians need to address the homeless problem NOW. 

Gary Charles Adler
via e-mail


Layoffs loom at Inner Southeast libraries

Editor,

I'm actually a resident of the Woodstock neighborhood, but [Sellwood-Westmoreland residents] might also want to be informed about this topic. Library users have probably heard or read that there will be staff layoffs in the Multnomah County library system.  Those layoffs will [also] affect the Sellwood-Moreland branch Library, and are to take effect at the end of September. Though libraries are now offering pick up of materials at library doors, the public cannot enter the library and does not benefit from the full range of services. Library administration has decided it is not feasible to retain the same number of staff when they cannot provide services as they used to. Unfortunately, the layoffs will occur not long after school has started. Though some children might be in families who can afford and readily provide support for all the online services and learning methods, there are many others who do not have that advantage.  If there are fewer library staff to assist with supplemental physical learning materials, it seems those children will have a greater challenge this school term.

The library will be asking voters in November to support a bond measure for rebuilding and expanding library space at several locations. Shouldn't voters question how more physical space will be useful to us when the number of library staff has decreased? Users of neighborhood branch libraries might want to contact the branch manager to learn how many staff will be involved in the layoffs, and what the proposals are for expanding or improving your specific library's space.

Community members can contact library administration to ask questions and express their views. Contact information is listed on the Multnomah County library website (under governance).

Bonnie Mastel
A community resident and library user

Thanks for memorial

Editor,

I would like to thank the person, or persons, who created the Black Lives Matter memorial on S.E. 13th overlooking Oaks Bottom. At a time when it seems unwise on so many levels to join the protests downtown, it is good to have this simple, tasteful, reminder of the great weight that has fallen on so many black families from the systemic racism our country seems only now able to begin to address.

Elinor Langer
Westmoreland


Questions headline

Editor,

I just received the latest copy of THE BEE. I feel obligated to reach out about the headline, “SERT nabs prowler with a pistol near Sellwood Park”. I think it paints a horrible picture, and an unnecessarily negative one. This person most likely struggles with a mental illness and was trying to feel safe in a world that feels unsafe everywhere they turn. These types of articles, with such headlines are perpetuating the stigma American's have with people who struggle with mental illness.

Do you know anyone that struggles with mental illness? Have you ever talked to them what it is like to be experiencing symptoms? A great place to receive more information is: http://www.nami.org. They also have a helpline that is a great tool for everyone and anyone seeking to educate themselves about mental illness. Knowledge is power! Let's be a part of ending the stigma against others.

Kate Bedard
Via e-mail


Editor,

I am not satisfied with this biased, violent language [in the headline story] on the front page of the most recent issue of THE BEE. . . In this historic moment you name a mentally unwell citizen of this city as a prowler. [You] never once mention the monetary cost of that "nabbing". Taxpayers foot the bill. And I am sick and tired of footing the bill for police who only know to shoot, rather than to de-escalate. I want to continue to support THE BEE. I’ve lived here my entire life and have always loved THE BEE. Heck, I cried when I read the article about Dairy Queen closing! I hope you can understand where I am coming from. Publications have social capital. What side of history is THE BEE on? What bias does THE BEE hold; what bias does THE BEE broadcast?

Jasmine Pierce
via e-mail

EDITOR’S NOTE: We appreciate the thoughts, and we do agree that Oregon has dropped the ball in addressing the needs of those with mental illness, and all too often the police are forced into addressing that role. However, we must point out that both the headline you refer to, and the story told, were accurately and correctly reported; we were there. As the primary news source for Inner Southeast Portland, is important for THE BEE to report on all major events, and in this case to reflect the traumatic situation everyone living around the new condominium building was experiencing, involving an intruder with a gun. This incident, reported by those living nearby both to the police and to THE BEE, was safely resolved by the police. In view of the assumption of these readers that mental health is issue in this event, we must point out that no publicly-available information on the incident we are aware of actually supports that opinion, at this time.

Opposite opinions on ‘Historic District’

Editor,

It’s great to see all the Black Lives Matter signs in Eastmoreland. If only the neighborhood had some Black lives, too.

By some accounts, we don’t have any. According to the Demographic Statistical Atlas, which relies on the census data, there are no Black families living here.

We don’t fare much better when it comes to other people of color. According to the Atlas again, Eastmoreland is 91.2% white – the second whitest neighborhood in the city.

You’d think these numbers would concern the directors of our neighborhood association. If so, it doesn’t show. They’re still fighting tooth and nail to prevent any change, however small, in our housing. And some change is necessary in order to change our demographics, because a neighborhood’s housing is mostly what determines who lives there – who wants to and can afford to. That’s why Eastmoreland is so white. After years of systemic racism, people of color lag behind in income and wealth and are less able to afford a big house on a big lot in neighborhoods like ours where that’s the only housing option.

The Residential Infill Project, which the city just adopted, will rectify this problem by allowing smaller and more affordable dwellings in neighborhoods zoned for single-family residences. It was supported by organizations that promote affordable housing and the end to de facto segregation, but opposed by Eastmoreland’s board.

Meanwhile, the board is still trying to turn the neighborhood into an historic district, which would make it difficult, if not impossible, to alter existing structures and, hence, equally difficult to create the more affordable dwellings the RIP allows.

It’s time for Eastmoreland to do more than just say Black lives matter. It’s time to show they do. Tell the board to quit fighting the RIP and stop pushing the historic district.

Tom Christ
S.E. 31st Avenue

Editor,

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission accepted in August testimony on rules proposed to guide its actions relative to recognizing Historic Districts for inclusion on the National Park Service’s National Historic Register. The testimony and subsequent adoption of rules by OPRC will mark an important step along the road that Eastmoreland has wandered for four years in its effort to achieve Historic District status.

To those who have followed the process, it should come as no surprise that Mary Kyle McCurdy of 1000 Friends of Oregon has suggested yet again (in 200-plus words in her July 20 submission to OPRC) that the inclusion of the Eastmoreland neighborhood on the National Historic Register should be denied because of historic “redlining”. McCurdy and her allies in “Keep Eastmoreland Free” (she is a founding member and chief strategist) have painted neighbors as racist and elitist throughout their campaign opposing the proposed Historic District. So it’s hardly surprising that she’s banging the drum again. Yet this time she raises the “race card” when a majority of U.S. citizens ardently seek to end systemic racism and support as shown by the Black Lives Matter movement. Doubling down at this time, when Eastmorelanders have joined the Wall of Moms in Portland protests, is cynical, manipulative, and morally corrupt. It is simply another ploy to throw a roadblock into the nomination process. Shame on you, Ms. McCurdy.

[Actually,] Eastmoreland was founded by Portland developer William M. Ladd, a populist of the day, to offer homes to people of differing income levels – academics and staff at nearby Reed College, service providers, tradesmen, and a mix of Portlanders. The design exemplified the City Beautiful planning movement of the early 20th Century, and showcased the natural undulations of the land, a tree canopy, and lawns. Soldiers returning from both World Wars and others bought property in Eastmoreland to build Mediterranean, English, French, and historic American home styles of all sizes. . .

We who are fortunate to live in this beautiful neighborhood have, by majority vote, in accordance with National Park Service guidelines, supported creation of an Historic District to preserve and protect Eastmoreland. Our effort has been opposed by developers, those in their thrall, and others who are immune to our neighborhood’s beauty and history.

Dinah Adkins
S.E. 29th Avenue




Letters to the Editor may be submitted via e-mail by clicking HERE.

All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.


 


Comments? News tips?

Click here to e-mail us!

Note to readers: At some point, this, our original Internet website, will be replaced at this web address by our new website, as part of the Community Newspapers group. At that time, you will still be able to access this, our original -- and smartphone-friendly -- website, if you save this address: 
www.ReadTheBee.mobi. You'll still have your choice of which one to visit!

READY TO MOVE ON TO THE COMMUNITY STORIES AND CALENDAR OF EVENTS ON PAGE 4?  
CLICK HERE!