This Saturday afternoon in Portland's southeast Lents Park, anti-racist activists held a rally in response to the gathering of white-power skinheads (and their hardcore bands)
known as Hammerfest 2007.
(See this week's WW story
.) After the rally, a diverse group of about 50 people, including a number of anti-racist skinheads, spontaneously arranged a caravan to a nearby neighborhood to leaflet. The fliers warned residents that one of their neighbors is neo-Nazi Randall Krager
, who lives with his partner and fellow “racialist” Abbie Chelf on Southeast 70th Avenue near Johnson Creek Boulevard. The white power leader is one of the founding members of Volksfront, an Oregon-based white power group that helped sponsor Hammerfest 2007. Krager and three others founded Volksfront in 1994 while Krager was serving a sentence for nearly beating to death an African-American father of four and leaving him paralyzed.
Most of the people who were handed fliers by the motley parade of anti-racist activists were concerned and somewhat horrified to learn that a neo-Nazi leader lives steps away from their own homes. Standing in Harney Park at Southeast 70th Avenue and Harney Street, a crew of soccer moms read the fliers and called their kids in from the field, expressing plans to talk to other moms in the area about Krager's presence. After about 20 minutes of walking around the area, the action dispersed and leafletters went their separate ways without incident.
At the time of the rally, members of the organizing group The Ad-Hoc Committee Against Racism and Fascism still didn't know the location of Hammerfest. Then around 6 pm, anti-racist organizers were tipped off that the Aryan moshpit was taking place at the Sherwood Elks Lodge at 22770 SW Elwert Road in Sherwood, Ore
. They immediately posted their findings
to activist newswire portland.indymedia.org, with hopes that Portland area residents might pressure the Elks Lodge
to shut down Hammerfest by calling the venue's booking agent at (503) 625-5977. A look at the Sherwood Elks Lodge website revealed that the club's motto is “charity, justice, brotherly love, and fidelity,” which raises the question of whether the lodge members are aware that they are hosting an anniversary party for a crew of neo-Nazis with a violent history of assault convictions
. Both Volksfront and the Hammerskins have been historically linked to the 1988 Portland killing of 28 year-old Ethiopian college student Mulugeta Seraw, who was beaten to death by racist skins on Southeast 31st Avenue.
The Ad-Hoc Committee's Indymedia post says they spoke with the Elks Lodge booker, and paraphrased his opinion that the gathering was "just a bunch of guys playing music." Check back on WWire for Elks response and more updates.
Hammerfest 2007 site
Sherwood Elks Lodge
Ad-Hoc Committee Against Racism and Fascism:
fight_them_back at riseup dot net
UPDATE, noon Sunday 10/7: Tony Baker
, who's listed on the Sherwood Elks Lodge website
as Exalted Ruler, posted a comment
on last night's Indymedia post:
The event was shut down
[Image from Hammerskins website]
As one of the leaders of the leaders of the Sherwood Elks Lodge, I wanted to let everyone know that we were duped.
This group identified themselves as a "rock group reunion of friends" when arranging to use our facility. I can assure everyone that when they arrived, there was no indication who they were... no banners, no literature, no slogans, no out of order clothing, no racist conversations, only music and a gathering... nothing to indicate that this gathering was anything more than a reunion of a rock group. I know it's hard to believe, but to any of the several dozen members of our organization who were in attendance last night, the gathering looked exactly as stated, a rock group reunion.
Once we received received indication that the hammerskin nation was using our facility, we worked to confirm as quickly as possible (this was a bit difficult for us because again, there was no outward sign in this gathering that these people were a racist group, so we couldn't initially whether the group was racist or whether the folks calling to complain were prank callers. After all, what's the odds of a racist organization holding a meeting right under your nose without any indication of who they are?). We talked directly to the organizers, who denied involvement in the racist group and reiterated their story that they were a rock group reunion.
In spite of outward appearances, the evidence soon indicated that we had been very badly misled, and the guests in our facility indeed were an organization whose beliefs we can neither condone or support. They had also misrepresentated themselves in renting the facility, and continued to misrepresent themselves in the evening. We shut down the event as quickly and as safely as possible after that and the group left before 8:00. None of the guests ever did admit who they were and their organizational affiliation.
The members of our organization are both shocked and embarrassed by this event, and thank everyone for quickly bringing the true identity of these folks to our attention.