Among the right-wing protesters brawling outside the Oregon Capitol on Jan. 6 was a Portland white supremacist who aided in the most notorious hate killing in recent Oregon history.
Kyle Brewster, 51, was one of three racist skinheads who attacked a group of Ethiopian immigrants in Southeast Portland on Nov. 13, 1988. While Brewster fought with a 28-year-old airport bus driver named Mulugeta Seraw, his fellow white supremacist Ken Mieske repeatedly swung a baseball bat into Seraw's skull. Mieske kept hitting Seraw while Brewster, then 19, kicked him with steel-toed boots.
Mieske was convicted of murder and Brewster was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in Seraw's death. Released from prison in 2002, Brewster went back behind bars in 2008 for violating his parole by associating with members of the white supremacist group Volksfront. While finishing his term, Brewster was convicted of assaulting a prison guard.
Except for a few social media posts supporting President Donald Trump, Brewster then remained out of sight until the past year.
But on Jan. 6, as Trump loyalists stormed Congress, Brewster joined Proud Boys and other right-wing figures at a rally in Salem.
A WW correspondent says he observed Brewster brawling with leftist counterprotesters in a melee on the Capitol lawn. Brewster was also photographed donning a respirator mask and carrying a can of hornet- and wasp-killing pesticide, which he sprayed at left-wingers during the clash.
Amid the fighting, Brewster and at least three other right-wing brawlers allegedly tackled a single counterprotester and briefly beat that person.
Brewster emerged from the dog pile with a bleeding head wound. He attempted to pursue the retreating counterprotesters, but was pulled back by several of his pro-Trump cohorts before troopers with the Oregon State Police ran out from the Capitol building to separate the two sides.
The Portland anti-fascist organization Rose City Antifa first identified Brewster online Jan. 9. On his Facebook page, Brewster admitted to attending the Capitol rally, replying to activists who called him a racist and a murderer.
"Myself i am racist or racial or whatever you want to call it and i dont give a fuck what anybody thinks about it," Brewster wrote on Facebook on Jan. 13. "And yep, i was part of a three on three fight with non white immigrants to this country and no part of me is sorry, remorseful or regretful about that. So yeah, racist murderer, all that. Now what? Your ideas are still foul."
A commenter then responded by posting a photo of what appears to be Brewster at the Jan. 6 rally with blood and Milk of Magnesia streaming down his face.
"That's right," Brewster responded to the photo. "I got hit in the head with a hammer by antifa/blm last week. Split me open pretty good. Right after i punched pne [sic] of them in the head and tripped one to the ground and kicked him hard in the ribs. And that is milk of magnesia on my face after we poured it in my eyes because i got bear mace sprayed in my eyes at the same time i got hit with hammer."
Brewster did not respond to WW's requests for comment.
But a onetime member of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, a group that regularly fought with Brewster and other racist skinheads in the 1980s, tells WW he recognized Brewster from recent pictures. The anti-racist skinhead, whose first name is Tom, tells WW that he is "100%" sure the photos at the Jan. 6 rally depicted Brewster. (He declined to share his last name, for fear of reprisal.)
Tom says he first became aware that Brewster had resurfaced when Brewster attended a September Proud Boys rally in Delta Park in North Portland.
Some of Brewster's recent social media posts contain racist commentary, including a Facebook post about Black people in October 2020.
His return to public life among Trump loyalists is significant because the killing of Seraw remains the most infamous racist murder in recent Portland history, and led to a reckoning for White Aryan Resistance, a hate group led by California neo-Nazi Tom Metzger. Metzger's organization was found liable in civil court for indoctrinating Portland skinheads with violent ideology. The ruling bankrupted White Aryan Resistance.
Brewster's sighting also matters because right-wing extremists are repeatedly rallying in the days before the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. On Jan. 17, for example, The Oregonian reported that a small group of "Boogaloo Bois" gathered at the Oregon Capitol. The Boogaloo movement seeks to start a second American civil war, in part by killing police officers.
Justin Yau contributed reporting to this story.