Sunday, January 23, 2005
( 7:36 PM )
It's been a rough weekend in the neighborhood. The first homicide in Portland this year occurred on Friday night. Three houses from my home a woman was gunned down while she stood on her porch at 7:15 at night. She was 25, the mother of a little 8 year old boy. She didn't even live there, she was visiting. It is so frustrating working through this, in my own heart and with my neighbors. The house has been targeted by gunfire at least six times in the last 4 months, it seems it was only a matter of time until someone was killed. The frustration comes in because we as a community have been trying to somehow intervene and stop the cycle of violence for years now. The police even met with us last October. They assured us that they knew what was going on in that house, they were on top of it, they were planning to take care of it. They condescendingly told us to stay out of it. The police are understaffed and overworked. But they also are shutting us as a community out of issues that directly involve us. We have children living on our street. We have elderly women who are nervous about leaving their homes now. Not one of us on our street sits and cowers in our homes; we talk to each other, we know each other, we try to figure out what to do. But the city never responds to our attempts to reach out. The cops are only reactive. So we just had to wait for the next shooting and call 911. But this time someone died a horrible death.
The other level of frustration is more psychic - every person on our street is a working class, committed member of the community. Many of us are directly involved in community work, some of us work around the state, the country and the world to help others and work for justice. We are diverse; black, white, hispanic, old, young, parents, grandparents, single folks, young and middle aged couples, toddlers, adolescents. But even though we are doing many things to try and make the world a little better of a place to live, we can't stop the violence at the end of our own street. It feels hopeless, and you get this sense of powerlessness. But you can't give into it. We aren't going to be able to depend on any kind of adequate infrastructure to help us. Social services are being robbed of their funding; policing is corrupted by bad training, racism and lack of funding; drugs, guns and hatred flourish in economic deprivation.
I don't really know what else to say. We talk and talk with neighbors. We feel grief for the loss of a young mother, resignation that it was bound to happen, and anger that our own children are endangered by what that house at the end of the street invites. There doesn't seem to be any answers right now.