Steven Stroud cofounded Oregon Spotlight, group dedicated to wiping out hate crime
Steven Stroud, a reformed racist skinhead who co-founded Oregon Spotlight, a group formerly affiliated with Portland State University that is dedicated to investigating and wiping out hate crime, was arrested Wednesday on charges that he and a woman committed robberies and a theft in Portland and Salem.
Stroud, 38, and Heather Pruitt, 25, have been arraigned in Clackamas County Circuit Court and are being held on $250,000 bail each. Portland and Salem police arrested them after Clackamas County sheriff's deputies stopped the pair for a traffic violation.
Stroud became a suspect in the robberies after a witness in Salem wrote down the license plate of a white Ford Escort leaving a robbery. Investigators traced the car to Stroud.
'It was great police work, but it was also a pretty lucky break for us that a citizen happened to write down the license plate of this car,' Salem police Lt. Bill Kohlmeyer said. 'Bad luck for him.'
Portland police believe Stroud was involved in five robberies. He is charged so far with three, at least two of which were in Salem.
Oregon Spotlight was founded in 1997. According to Stroud's MySpace page - which features the song 'Dream Police' by Cheap Trick - he left the white supremacist movement 16 years ago and has appeared on television with Oprah Winfrey and Sally Jesse Raphael.
'My goals are fourfold,' he writes on the page. 'First and foremost, to end hatred and the violence associated with it in Portland Oregon. Secondarily, to assist those that want to leave the Hate movement do so with as little danger to themselves as is posible [sic]. Third, to let the world know that you don't have to be violent to be strong and powerful. Fourth and finally, To meet some nice women who are not afraid to be themselves. Hey, you don't just live off bread alone ... .'
Nick Budnick of the Portland Tribune contributed to this story.