05-20-2018  10:56 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

US Marshals, police arrest Vermont fugitive in Oregon

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The U.S. Marshals Service says a missing sex offender from Vermont has been arrested in Oregon.The Marshals say 55-year-old James Rivers was arrested May 16 in Cottage Grove, Oregon, by deputy marshals and local police. It's unclear if he has an attorney.Authorities...

Oregon State study says it's OK to eat placenta after all

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — First experts said eggs are bad for you, then they say it's OK to eat them. Is red wine good for your heart or will it give you breast cancer?Should you eat your placenta?Conflicting research about diets is nothing new, but applying the question to whether new mothers...

State sees need to reduce elk damage in the Skagit Valley

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Elk are easy to spot against the green backdrop of the Skagit Valley, where much of the resident North Cascades elk herd that has grown to an estimated 1,600 is found.For farmers in the area — especially those who grow grass for their cattle or to sell to...

Famed mini sub's control room to become future exhibit

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has a new addition to its archives — the salvaged control room of the legendary, one-of-a-kind Cold War-era miniature submersible NR-1.Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, conceived the idea for the...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

2018 midterms: An early heat for 2020 Democrats?

ATLANTA (AP) — Look closely enough at the 2018 midterm campaign and you'll see the stirrings of a Democratic scramble to reclaim the White House from President Donald Trump.The leading players — from established national figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders...

Northern states taking down vestiges of racism, intolerance

DETROIT (AP) — A nearly 80-year-old statue depicting a European settler with a weapon in his hand towering over a Native American that some say celebrates white supremacy has been dismantled by crews in southwestern Michigan's Kalamazoo.And at the University of Michigan, regents have voted...

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

BURLINGTON, New Jersey (AP) — With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.Guess who's...

ENTERTAINMENT

'13 Reasons Why' premiere canceled after Texas shooting

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Netflix canceled the premiere party for its second season of the teen drama "13 Reasons Why" because of a school shooting near Houston.The streaming service announced the cancellation hours before the scheduled premiere and red carpet event, citing the Friday morning...

'Shoplifters' wins Palme d'Or, grand prize to Spike Lee

A tumultuous Cannes Film Festival concluded Saturday with the Palme d'Or awarded to Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Shoplifters," a tender portrait of a poor, impoverished family, while Harvey Weinstein accuser Asia Argento vowed justice will come to all sexual predators.At the closing...

'Jurassic Park' dinosaur expert's next big thing: holograms

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Forget the gray, green and brown dinosaurs in the "Jurassic Park" movies. Paleontologist Jack Horner wants to transport people back in time to see a feathered Tyrannosaurus rex colored bright red and a blue triceratops with red fringe similar to a rooster's comb.Horner,...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'Deadpool 2' ends Avengers' box-office reign, rakes in 5M

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Deadpool and his foul-mouthed crew of misfits and malcontents have taken down the...

Iraq's al-Sadr, promising reform, is constrained by Iran

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric whose political coalition beat out Iran's...

Company in Cuba plane crash had received safety complaints

HAVANA (AP) — The Mexican charter company whose 39-year-old plane crashed in Havana had been the subject of...

Palestinian publicly sets himself on fire in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A 20-year-old Palestinian is in critical condition after publicly setting...

Iran says EU political support not enough, urges investment

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's state TV is reporting that the country's foreign minister has urged the European...

The Latest: Maduro's challengers criticize 'red points'

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on Sunday's presidential election in Venezuela (all times local):1:01...

By Donovan M. Smith | The Skanner News

Ask Nicky today, and she will say the gang wars she once front-lined for are “pointless.”

Stopping today’s youth from following her path by  joining the ranks of this same “pointless” war she and so many other thousands have fought since the late 1980’s is the reason she has launched the new initiative Neighbors Against Violence.

The alliance comprised entirely of female ex-gang members—some once rivals—aims to steer young people into job opportunities, camps, and provide scholarships with the hopes that paths like these will fulfill their bottom line, “trying to save some lives.”

Most organizations combating  the ills of gang-life tend to be male-led and male-centric as the overwhelming majority of those in gangs are young boys—but the ladies of Neighbors Against Violence are taking a different approach.

“The girls are the ones having the babies and having to raise them when these men die,” Lunita Renfrow, one of the group’s members says.

“The girls are the ones that are stuck afterwards and end up having to be single mothers and not being able to take care of the kids, or the kids keep going back to the street and raising little gang members again.”

Renfrow adds that though they will keep their focus on women, certain resources like scholarships will be available to boys as well.

But they also hope to other services such as daycare so mothers can go to school.

Neighbors Against Violence acts only as an initiative at the moment, but Taylor, the group’s creator, says she is working on getting it to 501c3 status.

After 24-year-old Andre Lee Coggins was killed in one of the city’s three gang-related homicides last year in her North Portland neighborhood, Taylor says she was ready to move head first into the idea -- one she says she’d been sitting on for close to three years.

She began reaching out to the women she felt could translate their tales of street life into inspiration for the kids of today, putting any remnants of animosity to the side.

How? They were all friends at one point.

These women, all former gang-members have all banded together to provide youth with alternate paths to street life with the formation of their new initiative: Neighbors Against Violence. Pictured here from left to right are: Lunita Renfrow, Dyrenda Waller, Loretta Rogers, Selmene Rodriguez, and Nicole Taylor. --Photo by Donovan M. Smith

 

“We basically went back to that. Like, what [were] we tripping off of, really? I done slept at your house. Been at your mama’s house. We done broke bread together. We literally went back to the basics,” says Selmene Rodriguez.

Since forming, the women have been doing presentations and small-scale community events throughout the city using as an entry piece Taylor’s autobiographical book penned  in 1998, “Ask Nicky…A Young Person’s Workbook for Building Dreams.”

The book works more or less as the group’s “Bible” right now, detailing real-life scenes from Taylor’s life. The goal is for kids to use it as critical thinking to debate how she could best have handled her adversities, growing up as a youth influenced by gang culture.

Taylor’s initiative comes during a time when gang violence is on a noticeable uptick, after nearly a decade of record lows. City officials say the violence peaked in 1997, when 15 died in gang violence citywide.

Many others who did not lose their lives were hurt in other ways, with lengthy prison sentences or criminal records that prevent job opportunities, leaving the long-neglected and impoverished residents of the city’s North and Northeast an even more unstable community.

Unlike the time they came up ‘banging, they say much like the ever-gentrifying areas they once branded their allegiances to (neighborhoods like Woodlawn, and avenues like Kerby) there is a growing disappearance of organization within these gangs.

“Ain’t no hoods no more. Everything is so spread out, they come together when they come together and that’s why there’s so much violence -- because nobody has loyalty anymore like they used to.

“So it’s just [kids claiming a gang] then seeing each other and [having a conflict],” says Renfrow.

“There’s no rules to this. It’s not like it used to be before. It’s extremely scary,” adds Rodriguez.

Nonetheless, the women say they are taking responsibility for their pasts and trying to plant positivity and opportunity into today’s generation with community organizations, schools and churches alike.

“When they start seeing that we’ve come together as a collective, we’ll be able to tackle the streets and those youngsters.”

At one of their first events as a collective, Neighbors Against Violence were approached by a young girl.

“Are all of them your sisters?” the girl asked.

“Yes,” one replied, “all of them are my sisters now.”

Neighbors Against Violence will be serving up home-made goods this week at First AME Zion Church (4303 N. Vancouver Ave.) , Friday and Saturday, May 15-16, as part of a fundraiser to start their own summer camps.

Friday, chicken is the main menu item coming in both regular and spicy flavors, with french fries and toast as sides, and dessert.

The following day’s menu includes spaghetti and fried fish, accompanied by garlic toast and dessert.  All meals come with your pick of water or soda.

Plates are $8 apiece, and donations are being accepted. To place an order, call 503-960-9297.

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