In the city of Portland gun violence has taken a toll. To reduce gun violence, a local coalition of faith groups and community organizations has issued guidance in the form of 10 steps to immediately reduce the tragic gun violence.
The Portland Peace Initiative (PPI) is a series of community-wide listening sessions moderated by professional, trained moderators. The sessions are small, safe, facilitated conversations where community members can express how they feel about public safety and how they want to be served by the police. When all the sessions are complete, the statements, views and data will be anonymized and compiled into a blueprint for the Police Bureau and the City to help shape policies going forward. PPI’s purpose is to develop a practical, lasting framework for inclusive community engagement that reimagines public safety in Portland, paying particular attention to communities of color and other historically underrepresented groups.
Portland is not alone in the drastic rise of violence: Nationwide, murders increased this year by nearly 15%, making that period the most violent of the century. It was noted that what seems to separate Portland from other American cities was the lack of meaningful response from city leaders.
One reason why might be that out of all major American cities, Portland is the last to maintain a commission-style form of government.
Inter-Faith Peace & Action Collaborative (IPAC) hosted the first PPI The Table event, which convened more than 100 community leaders, nonprofits, government employees, and business owners virtually in November. It was an occasion for attendees to “deepen their commitment to peace in Portland,” according to PPI. A second The Table event was held in December, with plans to continue such gatherings throughout the year.
“The events of the past year have shaken our city and our souls,” said former Oregon State Sen. Avel Gordly, the first Black woman elected to the state Senate, in a statement released by the PPI. “In response, we have increased our resolve to find solutions because there is clearly no time to waste. We’re thrilled to have these initiatives come together, and have the guidance of trained professionals to help us achieve the vision we all share. There is hope when we do the work.”