On Wednesday morning, social media accounts for City Commissioner-elect Rene Gonzalez posted a screenshot of a city-generated map that shows gun violence hot spots across the city. Gonzalez’s Instagram account captioned the photo: “Map here of homeless camp clusters with shootings overlay (dots).”
That’s incorrect. The map, created by a consultant hired by the city this summer, shows clusters of the highest concentration of shootings around the city. Below is the map.
The city confirmed to WW that this map, indeed, represents geographic areas with the highest concentration of shootings—and does not show the locations of homeless camps.
When reached by phone, Shah Smith, campaign manager for Gonzalez, told WW that it was Gonzalez’s impression, when he met with Community Safety Division director Mike Myers, that the map he was shown represented homeless camp clusters.
“It was printed out, and Rene was like, ‘We need a copy of that,’” Smith recalls, who at first insisted that the map illustrated homeless camps. He later said, “You may be right, there have been a lot of meetings.”
Community Safety Division spokesman Dan Douthit says Myers met with Gonzalez on Tuesday for about five minutes.
WW first obtained the map from the city’s Community Safety Division this fall when it reported on gun violence in and around Dawson Park in North Portland.
Gonzalez’s post appeared to confirm people’s preconceived notions about a correlation between camps and shootings. One commenter on Instagram wrote: “Thank you for making it so clear for people. I live right by that big blob on the east side and seeing the shootings laid out so clearly with the camps really drives home what we residents already knew.”
Another wrote: “Would be nice to take my family to Portland and not have to worry about violent houseless people...”
Throughout his campaign, Gonzalez repeatedly said he would lead with data-driven solutions. The post remains up, though after WW contacted the city and Smith, the campaign made a note on its posts to reflect the description was inaccurate.