02-19-2017  10:49 pm      •     

A campaign inspired by the tragic death of Andre Dupree Payton seeks to prevent any further shootings. Men from Portland's African American Community plan to make their presence felt at this week's football game between Grant and Benson high schools. They will be wearing buttons that say "Restore the Village," signifying that they are there to support and mentor and encourage black youth. The game will be held 7 p.m. Friday at Cleveland High School football field.
"Our black community here in Portland is very small, very intimate," said Sam Thompson, who works with youth helping them succeed in school. "We're like family. And we need to come together as family; we need to come up with a solution."
Thompson was the host at a community gathering at Self Enhancement Inc., in North Portland Wednesday night, which brought about 200 of Portland's African American community together to share solutions to the problem of gang violence.
"I don't ever want to hold somebody's mama and tell her 'it's all right', when I know her baby is not coming back," Thompson said. "I'm tired of burying these kids."
Thompson talked of his sadness at the loss of Payton, whose nicknames were Dre and Doe. The 19-year-old was shot dead last weekend.  He was the first speaker in an emotional discussion that moved through grief and anger, forgiveness and hope.
Thompson said the community has the power to prevent violence if people come together to look after young people around them. He called on black men and women to take the lead because black youth need caring adults to mentor them through difficult times.
Family and friends of the murdered teen were front and center of the gathering. They spoke movingly of his loving and generous nature. One of his sisters recounted that when the family only had one bed for all four children, Andre would give up the bed so his sisters could sleep. His brother Tonari Harris said he could not sleep because when he closes his eyes he sees his brother falling as someone - whose face he can't see - shoots him.
"I've lost the love of my life," his mother, Salena Harris, said. "If there is anyone out there who saw anything, I'm begging you -- please step forward."
Single mom Amitra Roberts said she felt unsure, as a woman, how to guide her 11-year-old son into manhood. "Portland is a limited city," she said. "It's a limited city in so many ways – especially for blacks."
Former NBA star Terrell Brandon, said young men who needed a safe place to talk were welcome to go into his barber shop on NE Alberta and 14th.
Other speakers spoke about their anger and frustration at the lack of employment and resources available to the African American community. But the focus was firmly fixed on what black Portlanders can do for black youth.
Dave Jackson, more familiar to many as hip hop Dj O.G. One, urged the community to "take a look in the mirror," and spoke directly to the teens in the auditorium. "You have brothers who will hold you down. You have to make the choice that you want me there – because it's by your permission."
Other speakers made commitments to help and mentor the young people. Two of the murdered youth's close friends, came forward.
"I won't see my boy again," said one, speaking with great emotion, like many others present. And he told the community that teens who join gangs have been let down in many ways. The two young men were offered support from outreach workers and others in the community.
Payton's grandmother, Tieleen Freeman had a message for them. "Baby, You, taught him what you knew," she said. 'The way we heal up is not to be mad at you for what you said., because we have to stop this right now. God has a plan." 

 Help the family with funeral and other expenses by contributing to a fund set up for Andre Dupree Payton at any US Bank.

More: Andre Dupree Payton's Killer Still Sought By Police

Andre Dupree Payton Was Victim in Downtown Shooting

Images: TOP:  Dave Jackson, aka O.G. ONE,  speaks. CENTER: Friends and family were distraught over Andre Paytons death. 


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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. 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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