02-19-2017  6:13 pm      •     

Connected volunteers celebrated in Holladay Park Friday, Sept. 29. The volunteer  group is affiliated with the Eleven:45
church -led movement to end youth violence through supporting families and children.

Multnomah County District Attorney's Office has landed a $600,000 grant from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the Department of Justice.
The three-year grant will give $45,000 a year to Eleven:45, the church-led youth violence prevention  initiative. It also will fund a Deputy District Attorney, to be based in North/Northeast Portland, who will work in the Albina and Killingsworth corridor with the street crimes unit.

Deputy District Attorney Jim Hayden announced the grant at the Gang Violence Task Force meeting on Friday. Hayden, who is based at the Northeast police precinct, says the grant will help Eleven:45, reach out to gang-affected youth and families.  

"It is exciting, because we have some momentum going here and the more that we can do now, the better," said Hayden.

Eleven:45 and the District Attorney's office are working together on an initiative that connects youth gang members with pastors. As a condition of probation, first-time gang offenders who have committed minor offenses will be asked to contact the Eleven:45 program.
The initiative started with pastors taking youth to lunch, to offer them support and help connect them to resources in the community, including mentoring.  The grant also will help with administrative costs and organizing volunteers.

The Office of Youth Violence Prevention has allocated a separate grant of $4,500 to Connected, said Tom Peavey, policy manager for the office. The funds are intended to help Connected continue its volunteer work. Connected puts a caring adult presence into parks and streets where violence has a been a problem. Since it was started, in April 2010, by former youth violence prevention director John Canda, Connected has been walking in Holladay Park every Friday from 4:30 p.m.

Problems at Holladay Park -- for years a youth violence hotspot -- have dropped sharply since Connected began working there.

Overall, however, gang violence in the City of Portland has increased in 2011. The gang enforcement team has recorded 93 "call outs," as of Sept. 29, most of them described as "shots fired."  That's compared to 103 call outs for the whole of 2011.

Police and outreach workers are currently attending high school football games with the goal of preventing fights between rival gangs.

The Department of Community Justice is holding a series of interventions based on the work of David Kennedy, who was one of the founders of  Cincinnati's Ceasefire program.  The first of several "call-ins" was held Sept. 28.

Selected gang members are called in to a meeting with law enforcement and community members, where they are confronted with the consequences of illegal behavior, and at the same time are offered help. The mother of a homicide victim also spoke at the event as did a former gang member.

"This really gave a strong message to gang members that violence will not be tolerated, but if they want to get help then we will give it to them," said Erika Pruitt, a manager with the Department of Community Justice.

 Other developments in youth and family violence prevention work include:

The Police Activities League begins its fall football program, serving 1,200-1,300 youth in elementary and middle school. Community members are encouraged to support youth by attending games.

The Rosewood Initiative is holding a series of Monday night celebrations starting Oct. 15, at the Rosewood Café, 16126 S.E. Stark. Events will include photography sessions for families, arts, music, crafts, beauty, yoga and dance.  Everyone is invited to attend. If you want to share a fun activity, contact Jenny Glass at Jenny@RosewoodInitative.org

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All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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