PORTLAND, Ore. -- It is time for dinner at Noho's on Northeast Fremont Street.
Michael Smith shares a table with a friend and a police officer. Similar scenes are playing out all over the restaurant's back patio.
The goal of the dinner is to break down barriers and build trust between police and people of color. Smith says it comes at a very critical time.
"When I grew up I never feared the police," said Smith. "As an adult, I do."
Smith is afraid and he is not alone. For proof look no further than the frequent Black Lives Matter and Don't Shoot Portland protests. It is all too much for Sam Sachs.
"We decided we needed to do something to stem the violence," said Sachs, organizer of the dinner.
The men and women in uniform appreciate the event. Commander George Burke has worked in law enforcement for more than two decades. He says he has never seen tensions so high. He hopes dinners like this will help restore the peace.
"This allows us to get to meet with the community and have open dialogue about who we are and talk about nothing, anything or everything," said Burke.
There was no shortage of things to talk about at Smith's table. He has faith something positive will come from these dinners.
"Anytime we can see them as humans and not police officers and they can see us in another light, there is always hope."
Event organizers plan to have the dinners until they see major change both locally and nationally.