ARA Network 1998 – West Coast History
First Wave ARA — West Coast USA
The Anti-Racist Action network has western and west coast roots that go back to the first wave of ARA’s in the late 80’s. People Against Racist Terror (PART), a southern California affiliate of ARA, started up in 1987, in response to the development of a bonehead presence in Hollywood. the San Fernando Valley and Long Beach club and music scenes. PART began putting out a xerox ‘zine version of Tuming The Tide as the L.A. anti-racist newsletter, and networking with the Syndicate/Baldies in Minneapolis and Chicago, Front Range ARA in Colorado, San Diego ARA, Portland ARA, and BARA in San Francisco/Oakland, as well as a number of SHARP groupings in southern California and elsewhere.
The first continental ARA gathering was held in Portland in 1991, sponsored by the local ARA chapter, with support from Portland SHARP and the early Coalition for Human Dignity, when the CHD was more grass-roots and street oriented and facing heavy attack from an intense bonehead scene. This (inter)national ARA gathering drew attendees from Canada and the Midwest as well as up and down the west coast. It was timed to coincide with the trial of Tom and John Metzger for civil liability in the death of Mulugeta Seraw, who was killed by Metzger followers from the East Side White Pride boneheads. There was a similar killing in Reno, Nevada, in the same period, and fairly intense conflict between Nevada boneheads and ARA and SHARP in Las Vegas.
Most of these first wave groups had dissolved by ’90 or ’91. PART continued to work with non-ARA anti-racist groups in southern California, including the LA Student Coalition (Against Apartheid), high school kids who carried out a series of sit-ins at the South African consulate in Beverly Hills, and with the Orange County Peace Punx.
More recently, ARA has picked up again on the west coast, with a third wave chapter in San Diego, an on-going South Bay ARA, and a strong group in the “Inland Empire,” (Riverside – San Bernardino). We have had several network events, including a southern California regional ARA gathering last January that drew over 100 folks from around the region, restarted San Diego and jump-started Riverside.
For the future, we want to have more on-going contact in the huge southern California region to keep relatively isolated anti-racists connected, and sustain each other in our work.