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'The time is now': Portland community members demand action from city leaders after spike in gun violence

Portland police said there were 99 shootings in July, up from 35 in July of last year.

PORTLAND, Ore — Portland community members held an emotional news conference Thursday to address the recent spike in gun violence across the city.

With 15 homicides, July 2020 was Portland's deadliest month in 30 years. On Wednesday, Portland police said there were 99 shootings in July, up from 35 in July of last year.

“Our community is being devastated. We do not want to live in a community where parents are scared to let their children go outside and play,” said Joe McFerrin, CEO of Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center.

Several speakers at Thursday's news conference said they have lost family members to gun violence in Portland.

McFerrin and others called on Mayor Ted Wheeler and the Portland City Council to take a new approach "grounded in respect and collaboration" to keep the community safe. They said they were not calling for the return of the recently disbanded Gun Violence Reduction Team.

"We must re-imagine public safety. We must do it now," said retired Portland police officer Kevin Modica. "We demand that the police commissioner face forward and become present. We demand that the chief be empowered."

“The time is now. Our community is depending on us. Our children are depending on us,” said McFerrin.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell also spoke during the news conference. He said the police bureau is dedicating resources to investigating July's 15 homicides.

"We are committed to putting an end to this violence," Lovell said.

Lovell said Portland officers and detectives care about the community.

“They want this violence to stop. We’re willing to do the things we have to do to make it stop, but that work needs to be supported at all levels,” he said.

RELATED: 'Enough is enough' | Police chief says Portlanders are tired of violence, at protests and elsewhere

RELATED: 150 bullets fired in single shooting cap off Portland's deadliest month in 30 years

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