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Community Takes Action on Violence

Coalition intends to show how peace is possible

9/21/2021, 4:04 p.m.
A coalition of representatives from Portland’s African American community, including faith leaders and retired Black police officers are kicking off ...
J. W. Matt Hennessee
A coalition of representatives from Portland’s African American community, including faith leaders and retired Black police officers are kicking off a new initiative responding to an increase in community gun violence to show how peace is possible.

The Interfaith Peace and Action Collaborative (IPAC) on Tuesday embraced the observance of International Peace Day to announce the Portland Peace Initiative, a series of community listening sessions to develop a practical, lasting framework for inclusive community engagement that reimagines public safety in Portland, paying particular attention to communities of color and other historically underrepresented groups.


The purpose will be the creation of recognized problem-solvers from all backgrounds who seek to unite and elevate as many local efforts of individuals, groups, and organizations that want to participate in building bridges of understanding and healing in Portland, organizers said.


Leading the initiative are Pastor Matt Hennessee, Robert King, Kevin Modica, Deniel Banks and Lisa Broderick, executive director of the community group Police2Peace.


"What a perfect day to reset our goals for healing in the community,” said Pastor Hennessee in prepared remarks announcing the initiative. “Our goal is to go beyond merely addressing the problems at hand and invest in long term solutions to heal our community.”


Added Nike Greene, director of the Office of Violence Prevention, “More than ever we need to deeply examine how we can bring peace to the community, after everything that we have seen and experienced. Strong people stand up for others and with others. Take a big gulp of hope as we lean in harder. We are called to action.”


Professional moderators will oversee the first conversations, with training to be conducted in the future so that local community members may serve as moderators.


The coalition is planning the first of these conversations to take place this month on the dedicated virtual platform developed for the Portland Peace Initiative: myjunto.app/home/junto/portland-2-peace/.