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FEATURES: Intro | the Mt. Hood freeway | city hall of fame | architexture | rhymin' rogues | some of our favorite Portlanders | 25 years of statistics | what ever happened to...| Nike's marketing muscle | The Oregonian's big oh's

1988: silent night: skinheads murder an Ethiopian student | PSU's problem prez | John Callahan's poison pen



EVENTS

Mayor Bud Clark orders an investigation into charges that Police Chief Richard Walker (Clark's fourth) slapped female officer Rikki Venemon during a dispute in the Justice Center parking garage. After a long bout of amnesia regarding the episode, Walker later acknowledges and apologizes for the slap, and the City Council agrees to pay Venemon $7,500.

Acclaimed poet and short-story writer Raymond Carver, an Oregon native, dies of cancer at age 50.

The 8-year-old daughter of Eldridge Broussard Jr., founder of the Ecclesia Athletic Association, is found beaten to death; four association members are charged in the killing. Broussard makes a tearful appearance on Oprah to defend the group, but state investigators find another 53 children have been abused at homes operated by the association.

Mayor Bud Clark is reelected to a second term, defeating a field of candidates that includes two former police chiefs.

Though it's called a merger, the Portland Center for Visual Arts transfers all assets and liabilities to former nemesis the Oregon Art Institute. PCVA played point for the thriving alternative arts space market throughout the '70s, hosting shows by Robert Rauschenberg, Sol Lewitt, Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Stella.

In a fit of homophobia, Oregon voters overturn Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's executive order banning discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation.

The city erupts in protest when the Blazers trade all-time leading scorer Jim Paxson to the Boston Celtics for an even slower guard named Jerry Sichting. A first-round draft pick in 1979, Paxson played nine years in Portland, averaging 1,111 points a
season; Sichting chipped in just 1,083 points in three seasons.

If they're good enough for Star Search.... A local horn-playing rock outfit called Crazy 8s, once named a "band to watch" by Rolling Stone, records a live double-LP in Eugene. Crazy 8s entered the pop-music lexicon after a 1985 performance on Ed McMahon's talent show.

The area's first Blockbuster Video opens at the intersection of Southwest Cedar Hills Boulevard and Walker Road. "Blockbuster seems to have everything!" WW raves.

Downtown watering hole the Veritable Quandary appears to be a casualty of the yuppie era. "Gone is the healthy mix of sailors, artists, politicians, businessmen, students and gurus, replaced by stockbrokers and young banker types," laments WW.

     
JOHN CALLAHAN'S POISON PEN

By 1988, madcap wheelchair-bound recovering alcoholic John Callahan had already become one of the more controversial cartoonists in Portland. The following year, he published his autobiography, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot.




SILENT NIGHT

BY NICK BUDNICK


Kenneth Mieske
  In a decade filled with violent death, the murder of Mulugeta Seraw was one of the most horrifying.

Seraw, 27, was one of three Ethiopian students standing on Southeast 31st Avenue and Pine Street in the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 1988, when they were confronted by a knot of racist skinheads.

The skinheads attacked, using a baseball bat to bludgeon Seraw's skull as he lay prone on the pavement and vomited into a growing pool of his own blood. He was pronounced dead a few hours later in the Emanuel Hospital emergency room. The skinheads, Kenneth Murray Mieske, 23, Kyle Hayden Brewster, 20, and Steven Rodney Strasser, 19, were arrested and charged with murder.

News of the atrocity shocked a liberal city that had developed a rose-tinted self-image. More than 1,500 Portlanders took to the streets in protest. The well-publicized killing and criminal trial propelled awareness of skinheads into the public eye across the nation, and subsequent revelations laid bare the previously hidden connections between the skinheads and the Neo-Nazi movement, says Reed professor Elinor Langer, who is writing a book on the case.

In the aftermath, celebrity civil-rights lawyer Morris Dees flew to Portland and filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of Seraw's family against a California TV repairman and white supremacist named Tom Metzger, leader of White Aryan Resistance. Though Metzger did not participate in the killing, Dees contended that his message of racial hatred was what motivated the attackers--an innovative legal strategy with troubling free-speech implications.

Hundreds of spectators crowded the Multnomah County Courthouse for the trial, and after weeks of testimony, the jury held Metzger liable for Seraw's death and ordered him to pay $12.5 million to the family.

The judgment put a dent in Metzger's operation. In the years since, the relatively destitute Metzger has been able to pay $150,000 to Seraw's family. A small amount goes to Ethiopia to buy livestock and land for their farm, while the bulk goes into a trust fund for Seraw's son, now a freshman in college.

As far as the white supremacist movement, racist skinheads are doing more organizing than violence in Portland these days. "They are much less visible now," says Randy Blazak, a PSU professor who tracks hate groups. "They're a little more covert."

Which is not to say they are gone. Blazak recalls a vigil last November held at the crime scene to mark the 10-year anniversary. In the middle of the intersection, written in fresh white paint, attendees found a swastika and the words "see you later, Mulugeta."



BRICKBATS AND MORTARBOARDS
BY PAUL KOBERSTEIN

  In 1988, faculty members at Portland State University probably agreed about only one thing: Natale Sicuro, the university's president, had to go.

When Sicuro came to PSU in 1986 from Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, he vowed to "magically" reverse the school's "inferiority complex." He called on civic leaders to create a "plan for the '90s." He remodeled the president's mansion, planted flowers around campus and picked a fight with the school newspaper, the Vanguard.

The Vanguard criticized the remodeling costs, so Sicuro fired the paper's faculty adviser and threatened to revoke its charter. Editor Bennett Hall called it "a hatchet job to get back at us for stories we were doing." The attempt at censorship backfired as The Oregonian and Willamette Week began doing their own stories.

In February 1988, his own professors joined the ranks of critics. Sicuro came under fire from faculty for diverting student funds to cover a deficit in the athletic department. A month later, an accountant with the PSU Foundation--a nonprofit organization associated with the university--revealed that Sicuro had diverted money for scholarships to cover a deficit in an account covering his fund-raising expenses, such as charges of $5,013 for wine deliveries to his home.

That summer, an audit ordered by the secretary of state revealed that $170,000 in state money had gone improperly into the foundation's bank accounts. "What we're talking about is the foundation isn't their bank," said an auditor. "The state treasurer is their bank." Other allegations charged that Sicuro had directed the foundation to under-report his income to the IRS.

In October 1988, with almost all faculty members calling for his head, Sicuro and the state cut a deal allowing for his exit without accusing him of any wrongdoing. Sicuro left at the end of the year to become president of Roger Williams College in Bristol, R.I., and was last reported heading for retirement mecca Palm Desert, Calif., with his missus in 1993.

 

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