In the 12 months ending June 30, 2021, more than 1 in every 1,000 Black people living in Portland died in a homicide, a rate far higher than that experienced in U.S. cities most known for gun violence, reports the Willamette Week. Those cities include Chicago (77 per 100,000) and Philadelphia (64 per 100,000). In those same 12 months, Black Portlanders died in homicides at a rate of 102 per 100,000 people. Black Portlanders died at a higher rate than Black Baltimoreans and at nearly double the rate of Black Los Angelenos. Portland saw 94 homicides in that period, according to newly released Portland Police Bureau figures, and of that number, 39 victims (41 percent) were Black.
Black people make up 5.8 percent of the city’s population but were killed at about seven times their share of that and 12 times the rate of white people. The 39 Black victims killed in Portland in that one year mark a 250 percent increase from the 11 Black homicide victims in 2019. City officials and advocates point to the fallout from the pandemic, a major influx of guns, a lack of economic opportunity, growing income inequality, and the contentious results of gentrification as Black residents are pushed together and forced to compete for scarce low-income housing, as causes for the situation, but are scrambling for solutions. “We as a city are not currently treating the actual cause of these issues,” says Andre Miller, community safety liaison for Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “We are treating the symptoms.”