Ethiopian refugee Mulugeta Seraw is being remembered on the 30th anniversary of his death in Portland.
Seraw was killed by a racist skinhead in Southeast Portland on Nov. 13, 1988. His death is being marked by a series of tributes and memorial events.
Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden has introduced a congressional resolution that says Seraw's death forced Portland and the state to confront racism. It says the 28-year-old Seraw was typical of refugees who come to America seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
"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," reads the resolution.
On Tuesday, Seraw will be commemorated by a conference sponsored by the Urban League of Portland and Portland State University. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the University Place Conference Center.
Participants are scheduled to include Seraw's uncle Engedaw Berhanu and lawyers who brought a successful civil lawsuit against California white supremacist Tom Metzger after three skinheads linked to him pleaded guilty to criminal charges, including murder, for their roles in the incident.
Conference partners include the Ethiopian Community of Portland, SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Portland's Office of Equity and Human Rights, Multnomah County, and other agencies.
Seraw was living in an apartment in the Kerns neighborhood when he and two friends were confronted by a group of racist skinheads who had been drinking on the night of Nov. 13. Seraw was beaten to death with a baseball bat during the confrontation by Ken Mieske, a member of a racist skinhead gang called East Side White Pride.
On Wednesday, the Urban League of Portland, SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition, Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, and special guests will unveil commemorative street sign toppers to honor Seraw in the Kerns neighborhood. It is scheduled at 8:50 a.m. at Southwest 31st and Pine, where Seraw was killed.
Speakers will include members of Seraw's family and their attorney, Eudaly, and representatives of the Urban League of Portland, the Kerns Neighborhood Association, SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition.
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, the City Council will consider a proclamation declaring each Nov. 13 to be Mulugeta Seraw Day in Portland. Among other things, the proclamation says Portland remains an unwelcoming city for minorities, despite the lessons learned from Seraw's death.
"Portland's progressive reputation often hides its lack of diversity, the safe space our demographics create for racial animosity, and the lived experiences of people of color in Portland," reads the proclamation introduced by Eudaly and Mayor Ted Wheeler.
You can still register for the conference at ulpdx.org. There are fees, but scholarships are available.
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