PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The salon, where women let their hair down — literally — and talk about the joys, hurts and obstacles facing their community.
A group of about 30 women — including female officers in plain clothes — got together at a Portland salon to do just that with Portland police chief Danielle Outlaw.
“Women specifically in the African American community bring a different perspective,” Outlaw said. “We are impacted by violence in our community and crimes in our communities in different ways. We are mothers, we’re sisters, we are nieces, we are grandparents, aunts and we are responsible and care givers for predominately for the most part males in our community, so we grieve we hurt, we worry in different ways.”
In just over a year in Portland, Outlaw has been working to connect with the community and hear their concerns about police. She’s trying a new approach — meeting people in a casual environment to talk about those issues and how police play a role.
“I think this is just a really good opportunity to bring and come as we are to talk about some very serious issues in our community,” Outlaw said.
Outlaw developed the concept in Oakland, California to go beyond the traditional community meeting or town hall. She held a similar forum at Champions Barbershop in Northeast Portland in September.
“Conversations are held here at the salon,” Outlaw said. “I think it is important for us as women to come together in an opportunity of fellowship outside the traditional enforcement action with the police department and the community that we usually see. I think it is important that we come together in a way that we all share in common — who doesn’t go to the hair salon?”
The women in this group expressed their concern about people feeling comfortable dealing with police officers. And while that will take more time and more talks like this one, these women know the healing starts at home.
“The police presence is needed, for some of these issues but maybe not all the time, but if the men see us making the difference as far as the adult men then maybe they will get on board and help support but I do think it starts with the mothers, it starts with us,” one woman said.
This one was just one of many Salon Talks to come.