Sunday , August 14 2022

The city is reflected 30 years after the death of the skinhead on Portland Street.


When I was a child, Nkenge Harmon Johnson was careful not to get off the MAX train or bus in downtown Portland and cross Pioneer Courthouse Square.

It was in the late 1980s or late 1990s. Harmon Johnson is black.

"It was not safe for me and my friends," said Harmon Johnson, president and CEO of the Urban League in Portland. "Because Arians opened the court at Neonatsch Skinhead at Pioneer Square, they hung on the stairs and smoked."

Thirty years later, downtown still does not feel safe for some African Americans.

Harmon Johnson recalls a message read from a recent e-mail list sent by a friend. It warned her and other black people to stay that day because proud boys marched the streets. Western supremacists, who own total claims, became famous for their violent confrontation.

Harmon Johnson is one of a group of activists, community leaders and policymakers who reflect on whether Oregon has evolved since Mulugeta Seraw was murdered 30 years ago Tuesday.

On November 13, 1988, Seraw (a 28-year-old Ethiopian immigrant) with three skinheads on East Portland Street was surrounded and devastated.

Harmon Johnson's Portland Urban League is hosting a meeting this week at Portland State University to focus on Seraw's death and the future of Oregon. The meeting theme is "Remember, learn."


What has changed? "The calendar date," Harmon Johnson said.

Seraw's death savagery has stirred many things. He was an immigrant who escaped from violence from his own country. He was an immigrant who came here for the American Dream after receiving a college education when Neo-Nazis was attacked for other reasons because he did not like him.

Harmon Johnson was pleased with the white people, saying, "There was no way that people could explain it."

But for the Negroes, Harmon Johnson said he would not be surprised because he met the reality of Portland, which he learned through his repetitive experience of racial aggression.

Harmon Johnson was shocked among white people last year and less shocked by minority communities. The police killed almost a third of the MAX trains, saying that Jeremy Christians had stabbed two people in their necks. Witnesses said the Christian intervened in directing racist and foreign hatred to African-American teenagers.

"People say," Oh my God, "said the servant Johnson, telling me how this could happen in Portland – not a true progressive Portland. What does it mean that this can happen in Portland? I know that this can happen because the people go around freely in a totally improper way. "

John Harmon Johnson threatened to kill her after an African-American woman spoke abominably to blacks, Jews and Muslims, and threw plastic bottles filled with Gatorade, and the night before the attack, the Portland police arrested Christianity I did not. On her face. Police responded to the Rose Quarter MAX station, but Christian released. Later, the police issued a statement that she disagreed with the woman's explanation that her Christian was identified as her attacker.

The police said she did not. Harmon Johnson also pointed to a 20-year-old practice of keeping a list of suspect gang members and affiliates of the Portland Police Department. According to a 2016 Oregon / Oregon survey, 81% of the 359 were racial or ethnic minorities. The National Police Agency removed this list last year due to public criticism, but later the Board of Audit found that the police kept a list of suspected gangs for the second time.

Harmon Johnson said that although the police are unfairly focused on young men who think they are in gangs, they pay little attention to white gangs with superior ties.

The same is true of federal authorities ignoring white supremacists in listing terrorists. The New York Times said the federal anti-terrorism strategy has been almost exclusively focused on Islamic militants for almost two decades, despite the fact that even more people were murdered on September 11 this month, focusing on white supremacists and front- "He said. 2001, than Islam or other domestic extremists.

"White supremacists are terrorists.


23-year-old Kenneth Mieske, who gave birth to the deadly Seraw, was convicted of murder and died at the age of 45 in 2011 while being imprisoned. Accomplice Kyle H. Brewster has worked for more than 13 years before being released in 2002, and Steven R. Strasser has served for more than 10 years before leaving the prison in 1999.

He was not indicted, but a fourth man, Tom Metzger, had to pay for his role later decided by the Multnomah County Circuit Court. Metzger was the founder of the California-based White Aryan Resistance Group.

The jury awarded $ 12.5 million to Seraw's family. The reason was that Metzger became an agent by sending a mentorship of East Side White Pride to Portland as agent for the death of Seraw. The jury called Metzger the violence against nonmembers to three members.

After Metzger sold the southern California home, the family ultimately collected some of the verdicts, but enough to neutralize Metzger's racist organization and provide Seraw's ten-year-old son with nest eggs. I did. One of Seraw's civil lawyers, James McElroy, adopted a boy. Today, Seraw's son is a commercial aviation pilot.

One of Seraw's family lawyers, Elden Rosenthal, said he saw Metzger and his white nationalist views as extreme rarities at the time.

"I just thought he was a minority," said Rosenthal, who lost members of the Jewish family to the Holocaust. "Now we knew he was just the tip of the iceberg."

Secretary Rosenthal believes President Donald Trump encouraged the emergence of racist rhetoric. Trump called the immigrant caravan an "invasion" and held a rhetorical attack on his remarks on his Muslim ban on Latino Americans by opening a rowdy "congregational" rally.

"It's the same message," Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal recently reread Metzger's closure dispute record at the 1990 civil trial. He was surprised to see that Metzger seemed to light jumps on Trump's words and his supporters.

Metzger said his "good little" California neighborhood as "destroyed" by the Mexican "invasion". A spokesman for Metzger predicted the US would get worse. Metzger was concerned about the plight of white, working-class Americans – many said exactly as he felt, Rosenthal said.

"There are more and more white people in this country," Metzger said. "They are falling through the grid, they are getting poorer, poorer and poorer, and they do not like what is happening in this country."

Rosenthal said that given the political success of Trump, he realized that such a nationalist view was part of the mainstream society.

Rosenthal, a lawyer working in Portland, said, "This can happen in Portland, Portland's progressive sanctuary.

"What is happening here is happening here and will happen again if we do not educate our children," he said. "Always take a serious attitude and always head backward is a job of evolving civilization."


Randy Blazak has been studying hate groups for the past 30 years and has been chairman of the Oregon Anti-Crime Anti-Crime campaign. In the same vigilance as Rosenzhal, Blazak is overwhelmingly seeing promising developments in white countries.

Blazak said community members were more and more willing to speak. After Jeremy Christian was arrested, he said he had a candlelight vigil and wrote a message about love and ethnic harmony at the Hollywood MAX station.

Blair said, "The entire community came out." "It shows the victims that we do not resemble you and do not pray with you, but we are with you." "We may look like you, but do not be with you."

This support showed up in a more conservative corner of the countryside.

He pointed to John Day in 2010 when Aryan Nations expressed interest in purchasing property for a new national headquarters. Aryan Nations abandoned this idea after hundreds of residents attended the village talks to express their anger.

"I was very encouraged.

Police in Portland have developed plans and training to deal with racial profiling and tacit bias, and community groups have been working with police to prosecute police officers and LGBTQ people and people targeting others for racial, gender identity, religion or other reasons He has improved the understanding of those who do, he said.

In the 1980s, lawmakers passed the nation's first "blackmail" bill.

"Some are trying to send a message," Blair said of the small prosecution.

In 2017, a white man told an African-American man that he was in the "wrong neighborhood" of Portland's northeast and tried to put him in a pitbull. A white male, Mathu Karcher, was convicted of second-degree intimidation in February and served in prison on the 16th.

Last year the Portland driver yelled at a pregnant Muslim woman to remove her hijab. Then she pretended to shoot her and her husband by imitating the gun with his fingers. Fredrick Sorrell was convicted of second-degree intimidation in August. He was instructed to take anger management classes and have meaningful discussions with members of the Muslim community in Portland.

Brent Weisberg, a spokesman for the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, said, "We will not tolerate attacking anyone in the protected class and will absolutely do so if we can prosecute."

"When we think of victims of hate crime, we want individuals to contact law enforcement," Weisberg said. "This is our office's priority."

Harmon Johnson of the Urban League believes that the prosecution of abusive people who threaten others but does not physically harm is a rule, not an exception. She said, "If you report too often and your people are sacrificed, they will stop handing over to the police.

She described an Urban League employee threatened by a man with a knife shouting racism. But when employees reported to the police, police officers did not investigate, Harmon Johnson said.

"These people feel courage to run away." Many people do not report because they think the police will do nothing about it, "said Harmon Johnson.

Blazak, however, thinks there has been a noticeable progress since Seraw's death.

"There are all skeptical reasons," Blazak said. "There is a lot of institutional racism."

White Bla spent his childhood in Little Georgia in the 1970s and ultimately settled in the northwest as an adult.

"I grew up in a place where people were like the police and Klan," Blalock said. "But the change I saw in my life, I was encouraged."

A memorial event

On Tuesday, November 13, 30 years after Mulugeta Seraw was killed by a racist skinhead in baseball bat in southeast Portland. Communities record anniversaries in a variety of ways.

* The Urban League in Portland sponsors the "Mulugeta Seraw Memorial Conference" from 9 am to 2 pm on Tuesday. Click here to register.

* Wednesday, 8:50 a.m.: Disclosure of "sign toppers" representing street corners around Southeast 31st Avenue and Pine Street where Seraw was beaten to death. "Toppers" are attached to street signs in adjacent areas to display Seraw's pictures and names.

* Wednesday, 2 o'clock. The Portland City Council will receive a proclamation commemorating Seraw.

– Amy Green

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