The other names

Readers of this blog know that I worry a lot about the future of Portland. If you drive around and open your eyes, you won't see many signs of hope. It's bleaker than I can remember it, in 42 years of living here.

And so this story in this morning's news is just a kick in the gut: An innocent person shot dead in a gang crossfire at 7:00 on a weeknight. And not in some dark alley way up in the neighborhoods "where, when you hit a red light, you don't stop." No, she was killed at Vancouver and Stanton. That's at Emanuel Hospital. Five blocks from the New Seasons Market.

There are a couple of lovely bike paths there, lots of shiny apartments. But there's never a cop.

Are we allowed to say her name, too?  Kelley Marie Smith.

So much is out of control in Portland any more, but the gun thing is by far the worst of it. Five days earlier, and a seven-minute drive away from where Smith died, an Uber driver was shot dead while picking up a fare at Northeast 11th and Stafford (up near Lombard). It was a case of mistaken identity. The gangsters who rained 60 shots down on the guy had the wrong car.

That murder victim had a name, too: Dhulfiqar Kareem Mseer.

He was from Iraq. He came to Portland to work hard and live a better life. That was a mistake.

So what's the solution? I'm sure we all have our opinions about it. It's a discussion this town needs to have, and soon. 

But maybe we should engage in a little reflection first. Let's acknowledge how bad it's gotten. And hang our heads, in grief and in shame.


  1. I’m afraid it’s just a warm-up for what’s ahead.

  2. Well said. There is a lot of "well, violent crime is up everywhere" and "violent crime trends were up before July" whataboutism going on, even in the press. Yes, violent crime is up nationally, but certainly not at the rates seen in Portland. I was told something that makes absolute sense; murders and shootings are the gold standard for assessing overall violent crime trends in a city because they are almost always reported, as opposed to other things like robberies/assaults/sexual assaults which are more dependent on the willingness of the victims to report those crimes. We have similarly sized cities beat handily insofar as percentage increases are concerned. We have a gang war, covid craziness, no gvrt, fewer officers than we had a decade ago, criminals who have been emboldened/enabled by weak leadership in PDX/Multnomah County, you name it. I can't say which is more responsible than the other, but our elected officials need to stop the performative platitude self congratulatory social media crap and support proven law enforcement strategies that work, even if it angers the woker-than-thou portions of their base. I can't believe how far we have fallen in just 6 months.

    RIP Kelley Marie Smith. It took our 52nd victim this month to have some leaders issue tweets of condolence.


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