PORTLAND As the city experiences a rise in gang-related violence, the mother of a slain man said Friday that people who knew her son s killer refused to come forward. Through tears, she attacked the code of silence culture that often shields criminals from prosecution.
The most recent gang-related shooting in Portland was on Tuesday. That brings the year s total to 52 gang-related violent crimes in 2014 so far, almost 20 more than at the same time last year.
The city of Portland s Office of Youth Violence Prevention hosts a bi-weekly meeting of the Gang Violence Task Force to discuss a wide variety of gang related issues in the city.
On Friday, Lucy Mashia addressed the standing-room-only crowd.
Her son, Leonard James Irving Jr., was killed outside a bar near Northeast 82nd Street in a gang-related shooting on June 26. He left behind three young children.
Mashia said her son was not a gangster and that witnesses know who shot her son, but won t talk.
He was shot in his back four times, Mashia said. There are two witnesses that were in my son s van who will not talk. I know the names of the people that know my son and I can t do anything. One of them is in jail, but he s not in jail for murder and the other one is walking around.
Mashia held a picture collage of her dead son and his children.
There s a hole is in my heart that nothing can fill, Mashia said. I will never be the same person even when we get these guys. And my heart breaks because my community will not stand up and tell the truth because they re protecting some people.
Police said there are currently about 50 gang-related homicides cases in the city that cannot be solved for lack of evidence, many because witnesses will not come forward.
No one has the right to kill somebody and we as a community need to stand up and say, No, you don t get to do that, Mashia said. You don t get to kill nobody s son...you don t get to kill nobody s father.
Her speech garnered a standing ovation from the crowd.
[Below, full version of Mashia's testimony]
Cornelius Swart contributed to this report.