Remembering Mulugeta Seraw

City looks back on hate crime 30 years past

An Ethiopian refugee, Mulugeta Seraw, who was killed by a racist skinhead in Portland 30 years ago, is being honored this week in multiple events.

Seraw was remembered Tuesday during a conference sponsored by the Urban League of Portland and Portland State University that included Engedaw Berhanu, Seraw’s uncle as a special guest, and three lawyers who successfully brought a civil lawsuit against notorious California white supremacist Tom Metzger in connection to the murder.

Seraw was killed, and another Ethiopian man was attacked in southeast Portland by Ken Mieske and two others with baseball bats on Nov. 13, 1988. The assailants were members of a racist skinhead gang called East Side White Pride.

On Wednesday, commemorative street sign toppers will be introduced into the Kerns neighborhood where the 28-year-old Seraw had lived while attending grad school. Urban League of Portland, SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition, and Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly will participate in the placements, one at Southeast 31st and Pine, the location of the attack.

The City Council Wednesday will also consider a proclamation declaring each November 13th as Mulugeta Seraw Day in Portland.

The proclamation, as well as a resolution introduced into Congress by Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, highlighted the facts behind Seraw’s murder and how it forced Portland to confront racism, an issue still sadly prominent for many in the city.

“This horrific case galvanized the city, as well as the State of Oregon, to stand up to hate crimes and acts of violence by the neo-Nazi movement in the Pacific Northwest. While this brutal slaying happened 30 years ago, it remains fresh in the minds of many who lived through that time and for people who still experience discrimination and hate today,” Wyden said.

Wheeler said Portland’s progressive reputation often hides its lack of diversity.