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Tom Metzger, a notorious white supremacist, was successfully sued for millions for inciting the death of Mulugeta Seraw.

VIA PBOT - A street sign in Southeast Portland honors the legacy of Mulugeta Seraw, who was killed by racially-motivated skinheads. Another chapter in one of Oregon's most notorious hate crime murders has concluded.

In the nearly 32 years since his murder at the hands of three skinheads on Nov. 13, 1988, the name of Ethiopian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw has not been forgotten. It now adorns several intersections in his adopted Rose City — a memorial to his legacy created by the Urban League of Portland.

The death of Thomas Metzger, the white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan leader who incited his death, was not honored: only a few lines in a paid obituary published in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Metzger died at age 82 on Nov. 4 in California — just nine days before the 32nd anniversary of Seraw's death.

Seraw's assailants were adherents of the White Aryan Resistance group created and led by Metzger, spurring the Southern Poverty Law Center to sue Metzger for influencing the racial killing in the late 1980s. Jurors in the civil trial found Metzger liable for more than $12 million in damages — the largest such civil verdict in state history at the time.

Metzger's house was seized as part of the proceedings, but Metzger had reportedly paid Seraw's family only a little of the debt decades later.

Seraw's uncle, Engedaw Berhanu, remembered his nephew as a beloved member of the community on the 30th anniversary of his death, the Tribune reported in 2018.

"Any time I speak about Mulugeta, I get emotional," said Berhanu, who talked about Seraw's decision to seek a better life in America. He said his nephew was a responsible young man whose death had a devastating effect on his family.

VIA OREGON HISTORICAL SOCIETY - White supremacists gathered outside Portland City Hall on May 5, 1991, to protest the civil trial ruling against Tom Metzger.


Zane Sparling
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