Last week while we were out walking, we saw a poster that memorialized Mulugeta Seraw, a man who came to Oregon from Ethiopia in the 1980s.
This is a sad post.
Mulugeta lived at the corner of Pine and 32nd, just a few blocks from our house, close to Laurelhurst Park. He and his room mates shared an apartment while they were studying at the University here in Portland.
One evening in 1988, Mulugeta and his friends were walking from their car to their apartment when they were attacked by young men from the apartment building next door, for no reason other than they were black and the men who attacked them hated black people.
As a matter of fact, the three men who attacked them were members of the White Aryan Resistance and East Side White Pride, groups that exist to harass and attack black people.
Mulugeta was so badly beaten, he died. The attackers went to jail and were later sued, along with Tom Metzger, who is the head of the White Aryan Resistance, for the wrongful death and violation of civil rights of Mr. Seraw.
There was a great deal of press about the attack, because it was a wake up call to Portland that the city had not yet outgrown its racist origins, and needed to pay more attention to racist talk. From what I have seen, it is working…slowly, as all change does.
There are also new street signs in the neighborhood, reminding us of Mr. Seraw’s death. I am not sure why the year of his death is listed as 1981 on the sign, as it was 1988.
Here’s toward a more just world.