Rose City Antifa
Portland Anti-Racists: Downtown Shooting was Likely a Neo-Nazi Ambush Anti-Racist Targeted in Saturday Morning Attempted Murder
Portland, Oregon – In a city that still remembers the 1988 beating death of Mulugeta Seraw by three racists, a recent downtown shooting may thrust the issue of white supremacist violence into the forefront of public consciousness once again.
A local anti-racist organization claims that the early morning shooting in downtown Portland on March 27, whose survivor remains in Intensive Care, was most likely an attempted murder by one or more neo-Nazis. The victim of the shooting, Luke Querner, is an entrenched and beloved figure in the anti-racist community. He has devoted over a decade of his life to opposing Portland’s white power movement.
Luke Querner was shot at approximately 12:20AM on Saturday morning, in an unprovoked attack on SW 5th Avenue, between Stark and Washington Street. The shooting appears to have been well-orchestrated; the assailant concealed his identity, fleeing at least initially by foot in a closely-surveilled area.
The attempted murder of Querner occurs in the context of escalating activity from a racist underground that believes it can operate with impunity. The past half year has been one of increasing audacity from local white supremacists, with organizations such as Volksfront, the Northwest Front and the National Socialist Movement drawing closer together. Members of these and similar organizations--as well as cliques on their periphery--share information about anti-racists and the Left, and have been increasing their actions against such targets.
Portland Anti-Racist Action believes that the attempted murder of Querner was a political act, most likely by neo-Nazis. To treat this violence as gang-related obscures its political context and almost certainly misses its point. The shooting seems designed to send a message and to intimidate anti-racists. Portland ARA criticizes the police’s choice to release
Querner’s name on Sunday, placing him at further risk. The organization also questions the police portrayal of the shooting, which frames the incident as near-random, rather than as an act of political terror and attempted assassination. Querner was shot because of his convictions, the group believes.
“The Portland Police aren’t telling the whole story” states Alicia of Portland ARA, “They have not mentioned the most obvious motive for the shooting. We fear that they are more interested in smearing the victim than in uncovering the truth. Our thoughts go out to Luke right now.”
An expanded statement with further details surrounding the shooting is available on the website: rosecityantifa.org. Information on how to contribute to Querner’s medical bills and related expenses may also be found on this site. Portland Anti-Racist Action continues to be interested in any and all information related to white supremacist organizing in Portland and its vicinity.
Police investigating Saturday's shooting of Luke V. Querner in downtown Portland will review reports from a group called Portland Anti-Racist Action, which argues that Querner, a self-described anti-racist skinhead, was the victim of an orchestrated attack by neo-Nazis.
Querner suffered a single gunshot wound as he was leaving Kelly's Olympian in the 400 block of Southwest Washington Street, about 12:20 a.m. the morning of his 30th birthday.
Querner was listed in critical condition a day later. He remains hospitalized and is expected to survive. No arrests have been made.
"Those things may be true. At this point in our investigation, we haven't been able to sort through all that," said Detective Kevin Warren, an assault investigator who also specializes in bias crimes. "There's still a lot of people we need to talk to."
As police work to track down witnesses, news of the brazen shooting quickly spread across the country to other anti-racist and civil rights groups.
Eric Ward, national field director for the Chicago-based group Center for New Community, which monitors social movements that promote bigotry, said he was familiar with Querner's grass-roots activism, anti-racist and anti-fascist politics in Oregon.
Ward, who previously lived in Eugene and Seattle, said there's been a decades-long struggle between Neo-Nazi skinheads and what are called anti-racist skinheads, who trace their origin to Britain in the late 60s and emulated the culture of early Jamaican immigrants with heavy influences from Jamaican ska, rock and reggae artists. They're also known as Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, or SHARPs.
"I do remember Luke when he was very young. He was very active, and very outspoken, often in the audience when anti-racist speakers came to town," Ward said. "Luke was also very much involved in the music, punk scene in Portland."
Portland State University Professor Randy Blazak, an associate professor of sociology, said the SHARPS are very aggressive in their efforts to drive out neo-Nazi skinheads, by making and distributing fliers that say where neo-Nazi skinheads work or go to school. "They are much more aggressive, and are involved in a full court press to push the racist skinheads out of town," Blazak said. They feel they've been co-opted by the white power skinheads, Blazak said.
Querner was at Kelly's Olympian to watch the bands The Madison Concrete and Les Etrangers. According to some witness accounts, the music had just finished playing and people were exiting the bar when shots rang out. Some people hit the ground; others ran out. A suspect with a black hood and black bandana masking his face was seen firing shots and running from the scene, Blazak said.
Querner was shot once in the torso, Warren said.
"Because of the history of Portland, it has a lot of us very concerned," Ward said, noting the 1988 fatal baseball-bat beating of Ethiopian student Mulugeta Seraw by a trio of skinheads in Southeast Portland. "I really hope that law enforcement seriously pursues this case, and doesn't try to whittle this down to some incident of gang violence. I hope they either prove or disprove what we think was a calculated attack. I think the implications are very scary if someone out there who may have been affiliated with a neo-Nazi group felt they had the political space to shoot someone because of their political beliefs."
Warren said there was a case reported last year involving a fight between a neo-Nazi skinhead and anti-racist skinheads at a bar on Portland's eastside. Often, the skirmishes aren't reported. Warren added that he has seen the news releases widely distributed by the Portland Anti-Racist Action group regarding Querner's shooting, but hasn't had any direct contact yet with its members.