Family to Get 1st Payment for ’88 KKK Killing : Racism: The heirs of Mulugeta Seraw will receive $100,000 of a $12.5-million award. Ex-Klan leader Tom Metzger is responsible for the entire amount.

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Seven years ago, Mulugeta Seraw was beaten to death in Oregon by white supremacist skinheads.

Two years later, a civil jury found former Ku Klux Klan leader Tom Metzger responsible for his death.

Now, $100,000 of Metzger’s money--the first installment of a $12.5-million jury award--is going to Seraw’s family in Ethiopia. San Diego attorney James McElroy left for Ethiopia this week to arrange the transfer of money, which will pay for the education of Seraw’s 13-year-old son.


McElroy was part of a legal team that helped hobble Metzger’s empire of skinheads--youths who adopted shaved heads, steel-toed boots and violent behavior.

Lawyers from the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama--including famed civil rights attorney Morris Dees--sued Metzger and his son, John Metzger, for inciting skinheads in 1988 to beat Seraw to death.

Although the Metzgers were in California at the time of the Portland killing and were not charged in the criminal case, Dees contended that they, through their White Aryan Resistance organization, helped incite the three youths to murder Seraw, a 28-year-old Ethiopian immigrant who had come to the United States to earn money to support his family back in Africa.

During the civil trial, one of Metzger’s followers testified he had been sent to Oregon in 1988 to recruit new members for White Aryan Resistance, and had spoken to the three Portland skinheads convicted in Seraw’s death just hours before the beating.

The three attacked Seraw outside a Portland apartment in November, 1988. He was beaten with a baseball bat, kicked with steel-toed boots and died of a fractured skull. The assailants, part of a gang called the East Side White Pride, pleaded guilty to the killing and drew prison sentences of 9 to 30 years.

Dees and McElroy contend that the Metzgers have fallen from the top of the white supremacist movement because of the Portland case. The Metzgers once collected more than $100,000 a year for their White Aryan Resistance, McElroy said. Now they take in about a quarter of that, and most of that money goes toward the judgment.

Attorneys have foreclosed on Metzger’s five-bedroom house in Fallbrook, near San Diego. They have seized his television repair tools and his trailer, which he had used to recruit new members for his white supremacist group. For a while, the former KKK Grand Dragon was reduced to collecting welfare.

Now, Metzger says he doesn’t care if his money goes to black Africans. “I’m not against African people,” Metzger said. “I hope he (Seraw’s son) is an African racist and builds an African separatist state.”