Portland, Oregon, has seen a “seven-fold” increase in its homicide rate, and more Portland residents have been killed this year than in all of 2019, according to a Monday report in the Seattle Times.
The homicide and gun violence rates have gotten so bad that Portland residents held a “March Against Murder” demonstration, “protesting lives lost in a huge escalation of gun violence in Oregon’s largest city,” the outlet said.
The city’s murder rate is still low compared to most major cities, but the number of dead is ever-increasing, and most are minority Portland residents.
“As of Sunday morning, 37 people had died in Portland homicides this year, a more-than-sevenfold increase compared with the first five months of last year, and a stark contrast to Seattle, a larger city, where 11 homicides had been recorded as of late May. So far this year, the victims have disproportionately been people of color,” the Seattle Times noted.
The trend is not new.
“More people died of gunfire last year in Portland — 40 — than the entire tally of homicides the previous year. The number of shootings — 900 — was nearly 2 1/2 times higher than the year before. The spike has continued this year, with more than 150 shootings, including 45 people wounded and 12 killed so far,” The Associated Press reported in March, noting that 2020 was the city’s deadliest year in nearly a quarter-century.
The spike in crime follows the city’s decision to strip funding from its police department and abolish a Portland police unit aimed at reducing gun violence, the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which disappeared last June, after the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department.
Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, begged to differ, suggesting last January that the murder rate was rising in Portland because it was rising in other major cities across the country — a trend he did not appear to connect to the “Defund the Police” movement.
“I believe if [the Gun Violence Reduction Team] were [around] today, we would still see a substantial, if not identical increase, in shootings in Portland,” Wheeler said. “This is clearly part of a larger national trend.”
Regardless, Wheeler asked to “re-fund” his city’s police department during his State of the City speech in early May.
“The mayor of Portland, Ore., called for nearly $2 million in additional funding for the city’s police force and other agencies Friday, citing a rise in homicides and other violent crime,” Fox News reported. “[M]embers of the city council were either mum or not fully committed so far on whether they’ll back the plan, according to reports.”
“This shooting was brazen and horrific,” Wheeler added on Twitter. “The City and its partners are working hard to prevent and reduce gun violence. It’s a public health crisis that’s harming our entire community.”
Wheeler has, lately, been focused on ending violent demonstrations that have taken place almost nightly in downtown Portland since last summer — demonstrations that claim to be in support of a larger “Black Lives Matter” movement, even though Portland’s BLM leaders have disavowed the destruction, and Portland’s minority residents say they’ve been forgotten, as “anarchist” protesters focus their attacks on federal buildings in the city’s downtown.
“Everybody wants to burn the city down when the police do something, and by right, I’m not going to tell you that we shouldn’t,” a Portland pastor said during the “March Against Murder.” “But what are you willing to do when we’re doing the something? Where are you at, when we’re killing one another?”