Hosted in the Department of Community Justice’s North Office, a broad coalition of public safety partners came together to address known gang affiliates in Multnomah County. The message was simple and direct: we want an end to the violence in our communities. It was a message repeated throughout the evening by parole and probation officers, law enforcement, district attorneys, faith-based organizations, community leaders, and Mayor Sam Adams.
“We are not trying to scare you but we are trying to educate you on the consequences of your actions”, announced Kate Desmond, Community Justice Manager, in her opening remarks. DCJ convened three separate Stop the Violence meetings in June, each targeting a different gang culture. District Attorney, Pat Callahan, outlined the legal consequences and prison sentences gang members would be facing if they engaged in violence. As he spoke, power point slides displayed former gang members from the participating group that were either serving long prison sentences or were deceased. Royal Harris, a contractor from Cascadia, pleaded with the offenders to seek alternatives and not resign themselves to being the “gang member stereotype.” Over 35 gang-affiliated offenders on parole or probation participated in the meetings. The goal is for the participants to carry the messages of “Stop the Violence” to other gang associates. Similar meetings have been successful in reducing gang violence in cities like Boston and Chicago.