"They had Confederate flags on their jackets and iron crosses and swastikas tattooed on their neck," explained one man who was there.
One woman demanded that the hiphop music stop; another from the group went to a far wall, tore down an Italian Socialist poster, and began harassing patrons. Shortly thereafter, a scuffle broke out on the sidewalk in front, and a passing squad car chased away the alleged Neo-Nazis.
The owner believes the club is being victimized because of one of their employee's affiliation with the SHARPs--an anti-Nazi group whose name stands for Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. He also plans to do everything he can to stop the violence and discourage Nazi activity. "We're just a tiny bar," he explained. "Most of our clientele are from the neighborhood."
Lieutenant Jay Drum, a member of the gang enforcement unit in Portland, admitted that there is an ongoing investigation into this case, but refused to validate any of the details of the story.
However, police and Northwest anti-hate groups have confirmed rumors that white supremacy activity may be increasing in the next few months, and that the incident at the club may simply be a warning of bigger problems to come. Specifically, police believe that Aryan Nation leader Tom Metzger is planning a visit to the Portland area and plans on speaking at an event supporting his group, White Aryan Resistance (WAR).
"Tom Metzger was one of the founders of the Aryan Nation," explained Detective David Yamasaki, with the Portland Bias Crimes Police Unit. "And I have heard that he's planning a visit sometime in December."
That date, according to Portlander Rick Cooper, who defines himself as sympathetic to Metzger's cause, is December 8th, yet the group that's organizing it, Volksfront, a local white supremacy group, claims the event is happening December 22. Likewise, the location is still undisclosed, because, according to Cooper, organizers of the event are concerned about police activity as well as protests by the SHARPs.
"The occasion for Metzger's arrival is a memorial service," Cooper explained. "It's a memorial for a skinhead who was murdered by another anti-racist skinhead."
Det. Yamasaki concurs that the occasion is likely to commemorate the death of Eric Banks; a skinhead who was shot on January 1, 1993, in what Volksfront believes was a SHARPs/Aryan conflict. Volksfront now labels Banks a "martyr" for his actions.
"Erik was hit in the head with a round and received the martyrdom the fates had decreed for him," reads the Volksfront website. "Erik was pronounced dead New Year's Day, 1993, to the sadness of Nationalists and patriots worldwide."
In honor of the nine-year anniversary of Banks' death, Cooper explained, white supremacists from all over the nation and state will gather to celebrate. "The memorial service will feature two bands, no alcohol, and welcomes children," he said, "and Tom Metzger will speak."
Metzger has a long history of white supremacist activity in Oregon. In October 1990, Metzger and WAR were ordered to pay $12.5 million to the family of an Ethiopian man, Mulugeta Seraw, who had been murdered in Oregon two years earlier. Before Seraw's murder, WAR and the Metzgers had sent recruiters to Portland, and Metzger's recruiters not only trained Seraw's killers, but Metzger himself praised them for having done their "civic duty."
"The significance of Tom Metzger coming back to Portland is like the prodigal son coming home," says Randy Blazak, a sociology professor at Portland State and co-founder of a local hate-crimes watch group called Oregon Spotlight. Blazak explained that Metzger, who he believes served as a father figure to many of the Neo-Nazis in the late '80s and early '90s, was more or less banned from Portland after the ruling.
"Now that he's returning, it's kind of like an outlaw returning to the forces," Blazak explained. "It should be very inspiring [for white supremacists]."
Moreover, Blazak noted, white supremacy has already been reignited due to the 9/11 attacks. "White supremacy is really on the upswing this year," he concluded.
Det. Yamasaki says that on December 8th, police will be in the area of the undisclosed gathering and will be prepared for whatever transpires.
The bartender from the club that suffered from last week's attack remains worried, but confident in his opposition. "We want to say 'No, not here, not again,'" he said, referring to the murder of Seraw.