PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A group of peace activists, family members of homicide victims, public officials and Multnomah County residents gathered in Northeast Portland Saturday afternoon with a singular call: no more violence.
The event, organized by Royal Harris, is in response to an unprecedented level of gun violence and homicides across the Portland metro area.
Organizers said violence is a prevalent public health issue in the Portland community that impacts neighborhoods across the area. Through resources like the Multnomah County Health Department, which reached out to partners with Harris, they hope to stem the violence.
They gathered at Fernhill Park in the Cully neighborhood and began by talking about what they see in the community and what they’d like to see changed in the near-future.
Jamaica Imani-Nelson, who works with Holistic Healing Behavioral Health, said the violence is a cry for attention — and that cry must be heard.
“It is our reasonable duty to ensure not only that they are heard but they are included and we stop making decisions about Black and Brown people without them,” Imani-Nelson said.
After the discussion at Fernhill Park, the group marched down to 52nd and Alberta to spread their message further.
With each footstep taking to the streets, the group wants to not only have others stop to question what they’re doing, they want to inspire them to join the movement.
“It shows that the community is focused and fed up. We want to be heard, listened to and not left alone,” said Jason Nelson with Holistic Healing Behavioral Health.
“Black men and women, Black and Brown, just needing to be heard, needing a voice and don’t know how to have that happen and have that listened to,” said Imani-Neslon. “That’s highly problematic.”
Jason Nelson said it’s similar to a virus where you detect the problem in the community and treat it.
“It’s almost like our community has become desensitized because it’s happening in such a rapid succession. That’s a scary feeling,” he said.
The march came hours after a man was shot and killed on Southeast Powell and about 27 hours after a woman was shot in the same area. This problem is far from over.
“It tests out safety and our sense of security,” said LaRisha Baker with the Multnomah County Health Department. “Honestly, it’s really heartbreaking.”
Harris tells KOIN 6 News that March Against Murder began in May 2021 with a march from Peninsula Park to Woodland Park in Northeast Portland that including more than 250 participants, and since then there have been events in Gresham August and North Portland in October, including an event for the fathers of murdered children.