PORTLAND, Ore. -- People in Portland’s African-American community are speaking out about gun violence.
“Please let's stop the violence let's stop the gun violence,” said Lucy Mashia.
Mashia lost her son to gun violence more than five years ago. She was one of the roughly 200 people who showed up at a community meeting in North Portland on Wednesday.
“Part of coming together today is about seeing if we can get back to a unified voice around some of these challenges that are in front of us,” said Tony Hopson, CEO of Self Enhancement, Inc.
One of the community's largest challenges is violence.
“We’re not only here to speak about racial violence. We're also here to speak against the gang violence that plagues our community,” said C.T. Wells, the senior pastor at Emmanuel Church.
Leaders referenced a mother and her child who were recently shot in Gresham, the TriMet train tragedy, and a threatening letter from the "White KKK" sent to organizers of Good in the Hood, a decades old multicultural festival.
“If you decide not to come because of the KKK threat they win. Hands down they win, we lose,” said Ron Herndon, the Albina Head Start director.
“White supremacy will not win. We are not going back. We are not going back,” said Dr. LeRoy Haynes with the Albina Ministerial Alliance.
Sam Thompson with Good in the Hood said the meeting gave him encouragement.
“I think what was intended to throw us off or make us cancel something, actually is going to be strengthening it,” Thompson said.
Leaders also addressed increasing access to housing, education and jobs. They hope their neighbors are on board.
“When things have happened in the black community historically, it's because black folks have come together and unified around the common theme a common goal and common strategy. And we think it's time to get back to that,” said Hopson.
One of the ideas that was tossed around was fighting to bring 5,000 displaced African-American families back to the neighborhoods they had to leave due to gentrification.
The intent of the meeting was to bring African-American men together, to show leadership, initiative, and ultimately make changes that will benefit their community.
“Sometimes people need to see men stand up and say 'No, this isn’t what we stand for,'” said Herndon.
Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith also attended the meeting. She said it’s important kids in the community be connected with jobs.
“I have never seen a kid doing a drive by on their way to work. If we give them a job and something to do and give some purpose, this is what we should be talking about,” said Smith.