Mayor Sam Adams convened a meeting this afternoon in City Hall with prominent members of Portland's African-American community to talk about the city's struggles with gang violence—an issue that flared anew in the headlines this weekend after a fatal shooting downtown.
But as for what was actually discussed at the meeting? I gleaned some answers, eventually. But I wasn't there. Adams' office decided not to invite members of the press and public. I learned about the meeting only because it went long and forced another meeting scheduled for the room (an executive session on a lawsuit challenging the city's camping ordinance) to move downstairs. Not long after I huddled outside the closed door, the meeting adjourned.
Adams darted out a few minutes later and wouldn't say much except that the meeting was held in response to the recent attacks and was meant to help craft a citywide response to gang violence. I caught up with Adams again an hour later, after he left another meeting, and he was even more curt. I asked him specific about what was discussed, and whether it was heated, and he replied: "It was a very productive meeting."
Later, I tried checking in with some of the folks in the room to see if they could shed any more light. One source told me the discussion centered on short-term and long-term responses, and that police officers were there with a detailed presentation on how and where gang violence has historically happened in Portland. There also was talk of finding mentors for youth, and some in the room reportedly raised questions about an approach that tackled symptoms but not the roots of violence: Poverty and limited access to resources like transit and jobs.
I'll add more as I hear more.
Meanwhile, I also asked the mayor's office to explain why the meeting had been called without notice. Adams' spokesman, Roy Kaufmann, declined to comment.
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