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Friday, 19 December 2008

Police say as many as 150 people were inside church at the funeral when a fight broke out between Cross and a rival gang member

Police say as many as 150 people were inside the main sanctuary of the church at the funeral when a fight broke out between Cross and a rival gang member named Latwan Brown. As of Thursday afternoon, police were still searching for Brown, whom they described as armed and dangerous. But detectives say that precious few of the scores of people who witnessed the fight and, moments later, the shooting, have come forward to tell police what they saw. Police believe that Brown borrowed the gun he allegedly used to shoot Cross from someone else at the church. A lot of people who were there must know who brought that gun to the funeral of a middle-aged Portland woman. Of course, the reluctance to get involved is partly about fear. Cross and Brown, authorities said, are members of two rival sets within the Crips gang. Cross was shot before, on Aug. 3, taking a bullet in his stomach on the 4700 block of North Mississippi Avenue. Yet it won't stop, it won't get safer, in North Portland and other places troubled by gangs, until the people who live there, supported by police, gang outreach counselors, schools and all the rest of us, wherever we live in this city, take a strong, courageous stand against gang violence. Rob Ingram, director of Portland's Office of Youth Violence Prevention, told The Oregonian's Maxine Bernstein: "We need the common folk to stand up and say, 'We don't want this in our community.' How do you go to church on Sundays and feel like it's a sacred place when someone was killed there?" You don't. You can't. The Albina Ministerial Alliance, a group of pastors, will hold a news conference today to denounce the shooting, urge cooperation with police and call for renewed efforts to reduce gang violence. The pastors' leadership is vital. Portland must never become the kind of place that closes its eyes to a gang shooting, a city that hears no evil in the sound of four gunshots echoing in a church sanctuary.


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