Early on March 27th 2010 Portland anti-racist activist Luke Querner was shot in what Rose City Anti-Fascists believe was a well planned attack by members of the Neo-Nazi movement. Following the shooting police chose to focus the investigation on the anti-racist activists allowing the fascists to roam free. Luke is paralysed from the chest down as a result of the brutal attack.
This attack is a perfect example of the growing fascist movement in the US, from Nazis patrolling the border to the Tea Party activists spreading racists views thanks in part to popular talk show host Glen Beck, who has his own show on the Fox network, amongst others.
Today's protest, part of a nationwide day of action, started in North Park Blocks on Burnside with speeches from Shane Erhart and Eric Ward. The protesters then marched to the home of Jeffrey Jay Thomas (also known as Skinhead J, SkinJ and Tanx) at the Sally McCracken Building at 532 NW Everett. Here they stopped for ten minutes shouting, "No Nazis, No KKK, No Fascist USA," before moving around the block and demonstrating once again outside his apartment. One police car turned up and briefly tailed the protest but as no laws were broken they only observed the situation. The protest dispersed after heading back to the park.
Jeffrey Jay Thomas is known as a long serving neo-Nazi activist, belonging to the white supremacist group Blood & Honour American Division. He has also worked with the Portland Unit of the Nationalist Socialist Movement (NSM) which, according to some research, is the largest neo-Nazi organisation in the country. Rose City state, "Given his history and associations, we consider Thomas to be a hardcore racist organiser and a threat to the well-being of the community. Warn your friends and neighbours." The Blood and Honour American Division is guided by Volksfront International, a white power group founded in Oregon in 1994. These organisations mobilise mainly through the racist music underground with infamous bands such as Screwdriver.
The natural skinhead movement has always been anti-racist with origins linking to the cultural amalgamation of Jamaican immigrants and working class whites in England during the 1960s. The far right and racists attempted to hijack the skinhead movement in the late 1970s and '80s and it was during this time that SkinHeads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP) emerged in 1987. Their aim was to reaffirm the anti-racist roots of the subculture.
Portland has a violent history of racist organising that continues to this day. During the 1980's it was a notorious for supremacist activity, with groups such as the Aryan Nations declaring the Pacific Northwest as a future white homeland. Groups that formulated Volksfront greatly grew in numbers with a high point marked by the 1988 murder of Ethiopian student Mulugeta Seraw and the trial of three neo-Nazis. Community efforts drove the local groups underground, yet they are constantly struggling to re-emerge. This re-emergence is not only visible in America, but also in England with groups such as the English Defence League mobilising to stir up racial tensions in communities much like the National Front during the 1970's and 80's.