The following timeline is pieced together from primary and secondary sources I’ve recently dug up. Many of these entries come directly from my personal journals. As such they tend to be rather focused on me. Don’t be misled by that focus, help me supplement it! This is one lens through which to understand the time period immediately preceding the murder of Mulugeta Seraw. I welcome other contributions to the timeline. These contributions can be used as a supplement to the fantastic KBOO podcast It Did Happen Here. itdidhappenherepodcast.com
February 4, 1988–racist and anti-racist skinheads make their initial appearances on the Oprah Windfrey Show.
March 10, 1988–Portland, Oregon Racist skinheads attack “…Hock-Seng “Sam” Chin, a 27-year-old Singapore native who now lives in Portland. On March 10, after leaving the Siamese Princess Restaurant at 1231 SW Washington St., Chin and his family were confronted by three male skinheads who taunted them with remarks such as “Go back to Hong Kong” and “Get out of the country.” When Chin stood his ground, he was struck repeatedly by the skinheads, who knocked him to the ground and kicked him with their combat-style boots.” Willamette Week 10/31/18.
May 1, 1988–American Front stages May 1 “White Workers Day” March down Haight Street in San Francisco. 65 attend. They also attack the anarchist bookstore Bound Together Books.
May 12, 1988–Willamette Week publishes Jim Redden’s “Young Nazis: Portland’s new breed of Racists.” This would establish Redden as an authority on the far-right in Portland, although anti-fascists constantly battled with him in print. Redden practiced a hip, transgressiveform of fascism denial and constantly attacked anti-fascists through many, many equivocation formulas. These were the days when irony was king. For a contemporary version of his garbage think Quillette written by someone in your neighborhood about shit in your neighborhood. He would later found the insipid PDXS. A 2018 Willamette Week article reprinted excerpts from Redden’s orginal article which does not appear to be accessible anywhere. https://www.wweek.com/news/2018/10/31/wws-reporting-on-how-hate-spread-across-portland-in-1988/.
June 1988–I obtain a copy of William Pierce’s neo-Nazi novel, The Turner Diaries from Amok Books in Los Angeles, a creepy outlet that also sells — I shit you not — original clown paintings by John Wayne Gacy. I’m also reading Project Censored stories, the UTNE reader, Edward F. Herman’s The Real Terror Network, and Guy Dubord’s Society of the Spectacle.
June 23, 1988–The Christic Institute’s sprawling $24 million civil suit is thrown out of court. Many of us thought the amount of resources being consumed by the case was also a crime. Likewise there was a conspiratorial framework used by Daniel Sheehan, their counsel, most spectacularly represented by the institute’s motto and logo, “Stop the Shadow Government.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Defend_our_constitution_christic_poster.jpg
I’m working with the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee (PCASC) and Ace Hayes, a local leftist conspiracy theorist. Ace has a substantial collection of files and a specialized library at his home in Southeast Portland. There are half a dozen younger leftists who have been working with Ace. Ace’s “origin story” bonafides include supplying weapons to the Sandinistas prior to their July, 1979 successful overthrow of the dictator Somoza, and a period working with the Black Panthers in Oakland, California. Within a year, however, most of us would distance ourselves from Ace and his “Secret Government Seminar” at least in part because it began to attract “patriots.” Ace’s “constitutionalism” and “secret government” framework was always problematic.
February, 1988–Gus Van Sant premiers his short film Ken Death Gets Out of Jail which features Ken Mieske only a few months before he would murder Mulugeta Seraw. I watch it at a Portland premier together with his feature, “Mala Noche.”
The film is noteworthy for three reasons. First, because Ken Death would murder Muligeta Seraw a few months later. Second, because Van Sant, Chris Monlux and Jack Yost (PSU peace studies–I took a class with him, hopelessly naive liberal) all knew Mieske quite well as he was a fixture in the local alternative music scene. Many people knew him, Steve Strasser and Kyle Brewster. Chris Monlux’s Monqui Presents, which ran venues in the alternative music scene, long ignored fascists organizing there, although they weren’t the only ones to do so. Third, by the time CHD hosted two “Rock Against Racism” shows in September, 1989, the struggle to drive out Portland boneheads would prove to be a protracted one. Getting them out of the music scene sometimes required working with promoters who had allowed them to be there in the first place. We worked the bands–Wehrmacht to change their name and disavow boneheads; Poison Idea to denounce boneheads at their shows, etc. The Deprived were largely anarchist as I recall and comrades, while Hitting Birth (who played the shopping cart as an instrument?), and others played a part, too.
July 9, 1988–I am transcribing the “Aryan Nations” segment on “Radio Free America” (later “For the Record” and “Anti-fascist Archives”) radio show. Emory is an “American talk radio host and conspiracy theorist, born in New York City, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is known for his radio show which purports to uncover neo-fascism and neo-Nazism; among his more notable claims is that the Bush family was connected to the Third Reich.” Wikipedia “Dave Emory” retrieved 2.14.21. A leftish conspiracy theorist exposing far-right conspiracy theorists.
July 13, 1988–William S. Burroughs introduced by Walt Curtis at the Northwest Service Center. If you hung around cafes in Portland during the late 1980s Curtis was a fixture. I remember him holding court on NW 21st street — filthy, drunk, loud and totally mesmerizing. He stole the show with his indelible poem about lying naked under a tree in a field on a hot, summer day and the ensuing pleasure he received from a black lab. Again, I shit you not. Uproariously funny.
Ace Hayes at Laughing Horse Books. This is about the time Ward Churchill began making appearances, too.
Summer 1988–Town Hall Portland on skinheads. This was an important appearance on a local television show by racist skinheads before the murder of Mulugeta Seraw. The group POWAR (Preservation of the White American Race) were present and faced off against anti-racists. I recorded the show and may have attended. The video is in the ever illusive CHD files.
From my journal: Ace Hayes on affirmative action. We are beginning to have arguments here. Ace considers programs like affirmative action to be elite projects designed to split the working class. Most of us disagree. Cringe.
September 25, 1988–Correspondence with Ken Lawrence and Chip Berlet on LaRouche, skinheads, and NAP.
September 25, 1988–I cold call Stew Albert, co-founder of the Yippies and ally to the Black Panther Party, to complain about his maligning of Black revolutionaries in his Oregonian article about his book, The Sixties Papers. Sometime later invites me to his home and I realize my stupidity. Stew became an important mentor to anti-fascists, and sat on the board of the Coalition for Human Dignity for more than a decade. Sometime later I am present for a packet of FOIA responses Stew received about fed spying on him and John Lennon.
September 29, 1988. My appendix ruptures, my sister gets me to the hospital just in time. I spend 9 days at Good Samaritan Hospital in recovery.
Maximum Rock n Roll has a “Behind the News Round up” where scene reports on skinheads are listed.
I co-write an article for the Portland Alliance about the New Alliance Party — it is deliberately weak to allow further access to their party leaders and because I can’t quite get a handle on it. I also write about fascism.
Red Rose School forum on electoral politics (election year). DSA, Rainbow Coalition, Solidarity, Earth First!
October 9, 1988–I receive Russ Bellant’s Old Nazis, the New Right and the Reagan Administration an important example of anti-fascist journalism from that era. Third request for documentation on “Clouds Blur the Rainbow” from Chip Berlet…
October 11, 1988–phone call with Ken Lawrence about NAP. I have tapes of some of these calls (with permission).
I’m working with KBOO about War On Drugs stuff. Linda Shirley mocks me for listening to “cock rock”, she was another important KBOO figure from that era.
October 12, 1988–1hour interview by phone with Fred Newman of NAP.
September 1988–1000 union workers protest George H.W. Bush when he visits the Northwest Marine Iron Works on Swan Island. It was an angry crowd and the most militant opposition he faced on his campaign tour that year. Little Beirut is coming…
October 13, 1988–First “Secret Government Seminar” by Ace Hayes convened. Gender gap: 20 men, 3 women.
October 1988–Farrakhan links to NAP, then to Metzger and Klan, as shown by a Searchlight network chart are upsetting. I’m trying to figure out the context. Ken Lawrence later explains the shared anti-Semitism.
October 20, 1988–Second “Secret Government Seminar” with improved gender ratio: 13 men, 5 women.
October 1988–correspondence with M. Treloar on skinheads, NAP. He’s moving to Portland in December. Also Fred Goff at the Data Center, Russ Bellant of Political Research Associates, and Searchlight Magazine issues. I’m working part-time at KBOO.
October 20, 1988–I get Portland Alliance press credentials to cover a Cult Awareness Network conference. I get in some trouble with security, but record the keynote speaker, Bill Wassmuth, who I describe as “a very good, sincere, progressive Catholic.” I am disturbed by the “cult lens” being employed to understand the far-right. It’s limited, and goofy.
October 31, 1988. “October Surprise” action at Multnomah County Republican Party HQ.
Work started at Besaws Cafe in NW Portland as a graveyard fry cook.
Listening to Chumbawamba.
October 24, 1988–Together with a few comrades we begin moving Ace Hayes’ machine shop and library to his newly acquired “Box in the Woods” in Sheridan, Oregon. Not a few odd anecdotes could be added here, especially his often tense relations with the local building department. And planning department. And cops.
November 8, 1988–Oregon Citizens Alliance passes Measure 8: 52.7% — 47.3% legally enshrining anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the executive branch. While it will eventually be ruled unconstitutional, this is the beginning of the “no special rights” bullshit. This is also only five days before the Seraw murder.
November 13, 1988–Murder of Mulugeta Seraw by racist boneheads with ESWP.
November 15, 1988. AFAP meets at Ace Hayes home, where we discuss the Seraw murder and a public letter Ace wrote to city commissioner Mike Lindberg about the threat of racist skinheads and the far-right sometime previous the murder. Where is that letter? Ace’s letter was at least in part based on research we were doing on boneheads. I write an article in the Portland Alliance about U.S. support for Nazi emigres following WWII, probably from Bellant’s report.
November, 1988. Coalition for Human Dignity forms from a city sponsored community meeting. Early meetings move from City Hall to the Metroplitan Community Church (MCC), King Community Center and the cafe Cup and Saucer. I am assembling and distributing “skinhead” packets.
There is a protest against bigotry at City Hall.
November 27, 1988. I am viewing Metzger’s “Race and Reason” television show, taking names and increasing subscriptions to area far-right publications.
December 8, 1988–I travel to Whidbey Island Washington to cover the neo-Nazi Bob Mathews commemorative. Mathews was the titular head of the neo-Nazi terrorist group, The Order. He died in a shoot out with cops on Whidbey Island. Metzger and Butler are there. I hate on the RCP, cuz, well, they’re the RCP.
Comrades and I are looking for warehouse space for our “Anti-Fascist Archives Project.”
I have part-time work at UPS and Besaws.
I read Andy Oakley’s book “88”. I review it. Thought it valuable. “These questions cannot be addressed with a view of fascism in America that equates the Metzgers with the Bushes, the Moonies with the Rockefellers.”–me.
December 21, 1988–Reading Ward Churchill’s “Pacifism as Pathology.”
January 1989–I file FOIA requests with FBI, CIA, etc. on myself and am later disappointed that no one considers me a threat. Sigh.
Coast Starlight train to Oakland. I interview skins and punks at Gilman Street Theater in Berkeley. One female punker from Portland references the ASA (Anti-Skin Alliance) there and Eric Lamon (Was this China from IDHH?).
“Two wrongs don’t make a right. But three do.” –Unofficial motto of U.S. forces in Vietnam.
January 14, 1989–I obtain The Muckrakers Manual!
Frequent trips to Powell’s Books.
January 27, 1989–Ben E. Factory was an anarchist IWW organizer then involved in tenants rights and building occupations. I recall long debates between us around the Spanish Civil War and contemporary socialism vs. anarchism. I get arrested on this date at a building occupation in Seattle. My job, as it so often was, involved cutting a chain link fence with bolt cutters (always in my trunk) in advance of the march. I did so, but got arrested by a nearby undercover vice cop. The NLG represented me and the charges dropped. The cop shoved a gun in my chest and was rough.
February 18, 1989–David Duke wins Louisiana legislative seat.
March 11, 1989–Aryan Woodstock Napa, CA.
April 25, 1989–Walk for Racial Equality in Hayden Lake, Idaho protesting the annual Aryan Nations Congress attracts 1000 marchers. ADL and NWCAMH refuse to back it; effectively disavow it. I attend a press conference convened by Richard Butler on the Aryan Nations compound using press credentials from KBOO. I also write and distribute “Understanding and Confronting…” an essay at the protest event. Highlights: group listed as phone contact is “Parapolitical Research Center”, not CHD which was only beginning to get off the ground. More than 100 people from Portland travel. The NWCAMH is getting flack for receiving $ from Coors while also not including sexual orientation in their definition of hate crimes. There is still only scattered data collection on hate crimes in PNW.
Kinda the liberal version of “Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.” 😂
May 10, 1989–With Ben E. Factory I interview members of Anti-Racist Action (ARA), The Baldies and the Revolutionary Anarchist Bowling League (RABL) in Minneapolis, MN. I took detailed notes and brought them back for comrades in Portland. While in no way did I start ARA in Portland, I was around and trying to communicate what the folks in Minnesota had been up to; what worked for them and what didn’t. We later visit the Chicago IWW office and meet with an old Weather Underground member.
May 20, 1989 colorblind and ARA/Syndicate flyer from Chicago for Rock Against Racism.