Metzger-Linked Skinheads Cited in Portland Violence
A neo-Nazi acknowledged Friday that attacks on Oregon minorities increased with the arrival of racist skinheads tied to a group that allegedly incited the murder of a black man.
In testifying in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against white supremacist Tom Metzger, neo-Nazi Rickey Cooper said he wrote of the increased attacks in the October, 1988, issue of his Socialist Vanguard Report.
The paper was published the month before three skinheads fatally beat and kicked an Ethiopian student in Portland, allegedly as a result of Metzger’s racist teachings.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith have sued Metzger, alleging that he incited and should be held responsible for the beating death of Mulugeta Seraw, who was killed outside his Portland apartment on Nov. 12, 1988.
Metzger, 52, of Fallbrook, Calif., is the founder of a group called White Aryan Resistance and a former grand dragon of the California Ku Klux Klan. The suit also names his son John, 22, and two of the skinheads who killed Seraw.
Cooper, of The Dalles, Ore., spoke on the final day of testimony in the trial.
Cooper acknowledged that some of his information about increased skinhead violence came from Dave Mazzella, a former leader of Metzger’s group who is now the star witness for the plaintiffs.
Much of the case hinges on whether the jury believes Mazzella’s claims that he was acting out Metzger’s wishes when he came to Portland before Seraw’s death and encouraged skinhead violence.
Lawyer Morris Dees, who represents Seraw’s family, charged that Cooper received information from Mazzella about skinhead violence in Portland in October, 1988, and then passed on that information to Metzger.
Cooper acknowledged that he once referred to Mazzella as one of the “WAR skin leaders,” but he said he did not believe Mazzella was acting on Metzger’s behalf before the Seraw killing.
“I think he was representing himself,” Cooper said of Mazzella.
Under questioning by Metzger, who is serving as his own attorney, Cooper said he has never known the former KKK leader to advocate illegal violence.
Dees quizzed Cooper about a taped conversation the neo-Nazi once had with Metzger in which, according to a summary prepared by Metzger, Cooper said that since more skinheads moved to Portland, “the fights and attacks on the race mixers and the race traitors and the racial scum have been picking up.”
Cooper said he may have said that but disapproved of the attacks anyway.