A white supremacist leader testified Tuesday that he spoke to neo-Nazi "skinhead" Kenneth Mieske several weeks before Mieske beat a black man to death.
John Metzger was on the witness stand for a second day of questioning in the $10-million lawsuit brought against him and his father, Tom Metzger, by the victim's family. The lawsuit alleges that the Metzgers incited the murder by sending agents to Portland to provoke violence.
Tom Metzger, 52, of Fallbrook, Calif., is a former Ku Klux Klan leader who founded the White Aryan Resistance. John Metzger, 22, is head of a spinoff group, the Aryan Youth Movement.
John Metzger said Tuesday that he called a group of white racists in Portland on Oct. 25, 1988. The phone was passed to Mieske, who was convicted in the death of Mulugeta Seraw the following Nov. 13.
Metzger provided few details about his conversation with Mieske or about a conversation with Dave Mazzella. Mazzella is former vice president of the White Aryan Resistance and a star witness for the plaintiff.
Metzger acknowledged that he spoke to Mazzella a day after the murder but two days before Mazzella made a statement to police.
"What did he say about the murder and what did you tell him?" asked Morris Dees, an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the groups that is representing the Seraw family.
"I can't recall. I have no idea what the call was about," Metzger testified.
On Monday, Metzger testified that skinheads earned a deadly reputation after the murder of Seraw, but he said he wasn't referring to the fatal beating.
"They've got a reputation that, when they're attacked, they're going to fight back--in self-defense," Metzger testified.
He conceded that he told the Seattle Times that "skinheads these days are deadlier than just two years ago. They're more disciplined--more kosher, if you will."
Metzger was quoted in a Seattle Times article that appeared Dec. 3, 1988.
Metzger said Monday that he meant to say that skinheads were no longer being picked on or attacked by those who disagreed with their views on race.
"They were more deadly to the people who oppose them," Metzger testified.
He said he counseled skinheads to put up "more of a combined opposition to the crap that was being thrown at them."
He said he urged skinheads to fight back strongly if they were attacked by other gangs.