More than a year ago, a fire consumed a building along Alberta and NE 22nd. The rumor was that the Brothers Free Motorcycle Club, who often had meetings there, set the fire; allegedly, the landlord had told the club they were no longer welcome.
Last Tuesday, a Multnomah County jury convicted a well-known motorcycle gang member, Jesse Montgomery, of plotting the fire that destroyed the building.
Deputy district attorney Derek Ashton prosecuted the case. His case was solidified with the testimony of Melvin Lee Bond. "Bond was heavily addicted to crack cocaine," Ashton explained. "He worked for Montgomery and was paid, in part, in crack cocaine." Bond also pled guilty to three counts of arson. "We believe that Montgomery preyed on Bond's vulnerability in order to involve him," Ashton explained. At the time of the explosion, the building was being used as an after-hours club for members of the gang. KATIA DUNN
Since 1993, the Workers' Organizing Committee has taken care of Portland's most vulnerable low-wage workers. But in late February, the intrepid WOC closed its doors. With its demise, Portland will lose its only labor organization focused specifically on the needs of immigrants.
During its final year, WOC struggled unsuccessfully to fill its Executive Director position. According to Jeri Sundvall, who headed the board last year, "for the amount of money that a community-based organization can offer, we couldn't find anyone to take over the position."
WOC was a haven for people with nowhere else to turn, with a mission aimed at empowering people to help themselves. Sundvall was one of them in 1994, when she came to WOC after injuring her back as a housekeeper for Red Lion. Before long, she helped lead a campaign to stop the hotel chain from using toxic cleaning agents that exposed the mostly immigrant housekeepers to health risks.
WOC helped bring an end to INS immigration raids against Latino day-laborers and, most recently, helped the largely Ethiopian workers at Diamond Parking Lot form the city's first parking lot union. CAMELA RAYMOND