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Curbing Gang Violence

Pete Springer/OPB

In eight years as pastor of Emmanuel Temple Church in Portland, Bishop C.T. Wells estimates he has eulogized “dozens” of young victims of gang violence.

But he says the most recent funeral he led, for 18-year-old Borisshell Washington, was “particularly bad.”

Borisshell was a senior at Jefferson High School who was killed by gang gunfire in late May.

Wells says a pervasive gang culture “expressed in music, the drug trade and in the manipulation of women” has gotten a foothold in Oregon’s most populous city.  Last year, according to police, gang violence spiked by nearly 70 percent in Portland.

Gangs are not a problem exclusive to the City of Roses. In recent months, Northwest towns including Salem, Corvallis and Vancouver, Washington, have reported rising gang activity.

TOL looked at the issue just over a year ago. But the problem has shown little sign of abating since then. Why? As violent crime declines overall, what causes spikes in gang activity? How much violence is preventable?

Are you in a gang? Do you do outreach to gangs in Oregon and the Northwest? What’s the best way to combat gang violence? Have gangs affected your life in some way?


  • Bishop C.T. Wells: Senior pastor of Emmanuel Temple Church in Portland
  • Rob Ingram: Director of the City of Portland’s Office on Youth Violence Prevention
  • Mike Jackson: Medford Police Department’s school resources officer at South Medford High School
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