It was a recent outburst in what’s shaping up as the worst year of gang violence in city history.
Portland has seen 52 shootings, stabbings and beatings this year that police blame on gangs. And the frenzied summer gang season isn’t even half over.
If the pace holds, 2011 will top last year’s record-setting 93 gang attacks. And the human cost is real: at least 29 people shot and four others stabbed. Seven have died.
We now have an unprecedented look inside the gang violence, thanks to a document police distributed to members of Portland’s Gang Violence Task Force on July 9. The six-page chart contains striking details about the first 49 incidents of gang violence this year. (The 52nd took place July 18.) It lists the location of each attack, a brief description, the victims and assailants, plus gang affiliations.
Gang-outreach worker Michael Johnson says the data offer a detailed snapshot that will help show who’s who in the gang wars. Johnson, a former Columbia Villa Crip, sees few surprises in the details. He plans to use the data to draw maps of gang violence in Portland.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” Johnson says.The Portland Police gang unit's July 9 report to the Gang Violence Task Force.
The Portland Police Bureau has in the past balked at naming gangs, saying it only inflates members’ egos. But gang-outreach workers have pressed for more intel.
Sgt. Don Livingston of the police gang unit says cops released the report at the request of the mayor’s office, which sought more details on the outcome of gang cases. The report lists which cases have resulted in an arrest (15) and which are still open (34).
Here’s what the data show:
Black gangs are to blame for two-thirds of the attacks. Police link Crips, Bloods and other black gangs to 34 of the 50 incidents—including two stabbings and one beating. The Crips/Bloods violence has left 27 people shot, including the seven dead.
Cops say only six incidents involved Latino gangs, including two stabbings and two people hit with bullets. The white supremacist gang the Brood was behind two shootings, cops say. Police did not list gang affiliations for eight of the incidents, but many of those took place in territory traditionally associated with black gang activity.
Livingston says that racial mix in gang violence has been typical for Portland. “The only thing that surprises me this year is the seven dead,” Livingston says. “We haven’t had that in the last few years. That’s the alarming thing. Everything else seems pretty consistent.”
New gangs are upping the violence. Most incidents of gang violence still stem from the Crips and Bloods. Those sides were identified as the perpetrators in 12 incidents and the victims in 20 others.
Carl Goodman, assistant director of Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice, and others say the most dangerous conflict in Portland now is a rivalry between the Kerby Blocc Crips and the Unthank Park Hustlers, a local gang that mixes Crips and Bloods. Hustlers were named as victims in two shootings and a stabbing.
At the same time, new sects emerge. Because cops can identify Crips and Bloods by their colors and signs, the new groups adopt different colors—but they retain the tradition of violence. One new Crips-affiliated group, the Fat Bitch Killaz, was involved in a Feb. 14 stabbing.
Nearly one in five attacks occurred outside a bar or concert. Three more were shots fired in a public park. There were two incidents of shots fired on a MAX platform. Cops say that makes sense, because enemies from rival gangs can meet by accident in public places.
The consequences for bystanders can be tragic. On April 18, 14-year-old Shiloh Hampton was fatally shot in the Lloyd District’s Holladay Park. Cops don’t believe Hampton was a gangster, but the two suspects—Jimmie Ray Sanders-Garcia and Eddie Mohr—were associated with the Six Deuce Crips. Investigators believe their shots missed the intended target.
Pat Callahan, a Multnomah County senior gang prosecutor, says he isn’t sure why the appeal of gangs continues to spread—especially among African-Americans.
“They are a tiny minority among a community that has an awful lot of hardworking people,” Callahan says. “But for whatever reason, [the gangs] exist. And their numbers seem to be growing.”
Rev. Roy Tate of North Portland’s Christ Memorial Church says the violence won’t stop until the community steps up. “The police,” he says, “are not going to be able to solve it.”