WW has obtained footage of a tense standoff between a group of self-professed Nazis and the outnumbered Sunday-night shift at a neighborhood bar, the Lucky Lab Beer Hall in Northwest Portland.
On March 12, the Lucky Lab staff eighty-sixed a group calling themselves "national socialists"—that is, Nazis—who had been recruiting at the bar. The group refused to leave and peppered staff with anti-gay slurs until police were called.
The print issue of WW that hit the streets this morning tells the staff's story as part of a report on the increase of white supremacist activity in the Portland area, including racist vandalism, anti-Semitic threats and the arrival of an alleged Ku Klux Klan leader across the Columbia River in Vancouver, Wash.
Since at least March 5, someone had been leaving cards at the Lucky Lab location on Northwest Quimby Street. The cards read, "White?" and listed web links for hate site the Daily Stormer, a new group called PDX Stormers, the website 4chan, and the Trump campaign.
On March 12, Moskowitz says he overheard a conversation at a table of 10 white patrons that led him to confront them about the fliers.
One young man in a Make America Great Again hat said, giggling, "No, you've got it all wrong, we're a black power group," according to Moskowitz. The group then started chanting "black power" and raising their fists. When staff attempted to kick out those patrons, at first they refused to leave. On their way out, one man played bagpipes he had brought and another declared, "I called my Nazi friends," after dancing around the manager and repeatedly calling him anti-gay slurs.
Moskowitz, who is Jewish, didn't think before confronting a group that outnumbered the bar staff 2-to-1 that night. "My whole life, I hear about this shit," he says. "My grandfather survived two prison camps. I'll tell you what was going through my head: 'This is how Hitler got started. In a beer hall.'"
Several people present for the confrontation captured it on camera. WW obtained three short clips from the same source and lightly edited them together to make this video.
In the video, a man in a Make America Great Again hat can be heard calling Ilan Moskowitz, the Lucky Lab employee who first confronted the group, a "Fake Jew" and an anti-Semite. Moskowitz, who is Jewish, protests. He said he felt like the group was trying to bait him and bar staff into a fight but did not want to strike first, and that their rhetoric was a transparent attempt to "flip the script" after getting called out for racism—"as though we were stupid," Moskowitz says.
Although the sound and video quality is poor, it's clear that the group were repeatedly asked to leave but instead stuck around arguing with the staff. Eventually, they did exit without escalating further.
Bar staff told WW the sound of a glass breaking elsewhere in the bar—faintly audible in the video clips—possibly combined with the awareness that police had been called, prompted the group to finally relent and slink out of the bar.
Some of the dialogue described to WW is not clearly visible or audible in these video clips, such as the allegation by bar staff that a member of the group directed gay slurs at the bar manager.
The Portland Police Bureau did respond to the scene but officers did not take a report.
According to Bureau spokesman Pete Simpson, who checked with one of the responding officers, "the claims of anti-gay slurs were never mentioned [to responding officers] by staff and in a phone conversation there was no indication of any interest in filing a report. The officers were told that the problem group left and staff was locking up for the night."
But not all Lucky Lab employees that night were satisfied with the police response. "Cop said 'I think you guys are fine' and drove off almost immediately," staff wrote in the bar's in-house incident log that night.
Some of the troublemakers may have been lingering outside the bar when police arrived, but according to Moskowitz, officers made no effort to track them down. "They had 'em dead to rights," Moskowitz says.
Simpson says the Bureau encourages reporting of possible hate crimes but adds that "if the responding officers determine it was 'free speech' issue versus a crime, they might not write any reports." Oregon's intimidation statute contains what some experts describe as restrictive probable cause standards that complicate investigation and enforcement.
Assistant US Attorney for Oregon Hannah Horsley, who serves on the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crimes, says victims and witnesses to potential hate crimes should call the local police first, then the Portland Federal Bureau of Investigation office at 503-224-4181.
"We encourage over-reporting," Horsley says. "We don't want someone making those judgment calls themselves" about whether an incident rises to the level of a hate crime.
Another interaction not captured in the video clips is the exchange in which members of the group told bar staff they were a "black power" group and not fascists but "socialists—national socialists," and admitted to leaving the white supremacist recruitment material in the bar.
Those materials promoted the fascist "/pol/" message board on the website 4chan, the pro-Nazi blog Daily Stormer, the Canadian YouTube huckster and self-professed "philosopher" Stefan Molyneux, and the campaign website for President Donald Trump.
Lucky Lab staff told WW that one of the most stubborn members of the hostile group at the bar on Sunday night, an older man with a white beard, began playing the bagpipes outside the bar.
In the video, he is shown seated and grumbling with his back to the camera. If this wasn't the notorious Springfield, Ore., neo-Nazi, James L. "Jimmy" Marr, then someone has stolen his schtick and imported it to Portland.
Marr, his racist slogans, and his obnoxious bagpipes are fixtures of the local news in Lane County. He was arrested for disorderly conduct last year by Eugene police after setting up a loudspeaker on the roof of his house to counter a nearby "Stop Hate!" rally with recorded messages such as: "Hate is good. Hate gives us a reason to exist. We can even pass hate onto our children and keep hate alive for centuries."
He's also got a truck emblazoned with a rotating hit parade of hate speech in the form of painted signs reading, "Jew Lies Matter," "'Holocaust' is Hokum," and, "Trump: Do the White Thing."
The Anti-Defamation League has been tracking his activities for a number of years and reports that Marr was, in 2013, "one of several white supremacists who attempted to take control of the City of Leith, North Dakota, to create a home for whites"—a "doomed" effort. Speaking in 2009 at the University of Oregon, Marr espoused his crackpot theories of "white genocide" and attempted to lead the audience in a Nazi salute.
Apparently he has made some friends.
When WW asked Marr to share his side of the story via his Twitter account, @GenocideJimmy. Marr responded by supplying an image of himself with another man's face pasted over it. "Lucky Lab? I'm always the last one to find out about last minute venue changes for secret KKK meetings. I went to the Deschutes," Marr said.