PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Pastor Matt Hennessee has been working on the issue of gun violence in the Rose City with the Interfaith Peace and Action Collaborative. He said the Portland City Council’s unanimous passage of a proposal to give millions of dollars to groups that serve communities impacted by gun violence is one piece of a larger picture.
“The fact that we are where we are is because so many lost their lives, so many traumatized, so many injured that I salute council for hearing our concerns from IPAC and for moving forward,” Hennessee said.
Also included in the gun violence reduction efforts would be a plan for policing centered around the community, Mayor Ted Wheeler announced. That would be guided by weekly meetings involving police and community members, the creation of an independent community oversight committee — including its own analytical staff.
Hennessee said it is clear there is a trust gap.
“One of the ways to continue to begin rebuilding trust is to bring community and police together to work on and resolve issues together,” he said. “So this will mean, yes, there will be a component that will include members broadly throughout the community, including those that have lived experience, family members who have to deal with tragic loss or other groups represented by the DA’s office, like the ACLU and others so we can really work together to create something.”
The pastor hopes this can be a model for other cities also dealing with a spike in crime on the streets.
“I’m grateful people recognize this is not a police issue. It’s a neighborhood and community issue, and that we all must work together,” Hennessee said.
The Portland City Council’s vote and passage of the plan was done quickly, without a lot of time for public comment.
Commissioner Carmen Rubio said their action “matches its urgency in a way that limits testimony to written submissions. We wish this was not the case. We hope those watching and the media will encourage people to submit testimony.”
She said they felt they had a mandate from the community to move quickly.
“The reality is this demands immediate action after months of community action and protests,” Rubio said “We felt we’ve had years worth of direction from our community to take immediate action. I’m appreciative of the 5 of us to get this policy right.”
Hennessee said he was somewhat disappointed there wasn’t additional funding for the police. He doesn’t believe that all long-term goals can be met without making other investments.
“I implore our City Council to say citizens work together, to say citizens have to work together to bridge the crisis of confidence and to recognize all of this cannot be done long term without making other investments,” he said.