Image source: Froedtert
Gun violence is a troubling problem in the United States, and Portland’s Hazelwood neighborhood has taken a stand against it.
While on Portland’s east side, gun violence has declined year on year, Hazelwood remains a major concern.
Portland police have released data shedding light on the amount of gun violence in Hazelwood.
According to their findings, there were 43 shootings between May and August last year.
In 2022, there were 45 shootings in the same period.
As a result, a group called Love is Stronger joined together to partner with other community organizations to reach out to the public.
The neighborhood block party
On Saturday, Love is Stronger and the local authorities threw a neighborhood party in Hazelwood.
Love is Stronger founder Lionel Irving released a statement at the event saying:
“Empower them to be active bystanders. A lot of people might want to say something but they think they’re by themselves.”
“So, we just want to let them know there are community members that are willing to stand up with you.”
“Call and let us stand with you so we can speak up and we can help save some of these people.”
The concept of the block section came from the Mt Hood Community College Head Start.
East County Community Health worked with both groups to make the event possible.
How shootings affect children’s safety
According to the family services manager, the recent shootings have raised safety concerns for children attending Hazelwood Kindergarten.
Vanessa Valdez elaborated, saying:
“We have a preschool program in this apartment complex right here, and there has been a huge increase in gun activity and shooting and violence.”
“Some of our classrooms are finding shell casings outside the classrooms in the morning, outside the toddlers’ rooms.”
Christine Sanders, community health director, said foot traffic is a deterrent to crime.
“It gives people hope. It makes them know they’re not forgotten,” said Sanders.
“It makes them know we see you, we hear you, and we’re going to pool all our resources in for you even if it’s just for one day of peace, quiet, hope where their children can run around and play.”
Sanders also pointed out that gun violence is a major public health problem. “We’re all affected,” she said.
“So, the only way this is going to change is if all communities, community partners, and businesses wake up and say, ‘This is our problem,’ and come together and figure out how we can support our community and make sure this violence comes to an end.”
The three organizers said they were in a hurry to get to work near the event following a shooting.
The shooting took place early Saturday morning on the runways of the MAX.