Panelists will explore the legal response to white nationalism

Skyline image of Portland

From the murders of two men on a MAX train in Portland to the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, white nationalism and hate-based crimes have become a national topic of discussion, including within the legal community.

The Oregon State Bar Diversity Section and the UO School of Law have partnered to present the continuing legal education session, “From Charlottesville to Portland: How Lawyers Can Respond to White Nationalism’s Resurgence,” on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 4 to 6 p.m. at UO Portland.

“This is a topical issue that is affecting our community,” said Jonathan Patterson, chair of the executive committee of the Oregon State Bar’s Diversity Section. “Portland has a legacy of the legal community fighting against white nationalism, yet we have a disconnect sometimes with people believing that it doesn’t happen here.”

One of the panelists for the session is Elden Rosenthal, an attorney for the Mulugeta Seraw estate. Seraw was a Portland State University student from Ethiopia who was beaten to death in 1998 by skinheads. Rosenthal helped win a $12.5 million civil judgment against a white supremacist, bankrupting a prominent Northwest skinhead group. The crime prompted Oregon’s groundbreaking hate-crime law.

The one-hour panel will also include Eric Ward, executive director of Western States Center; Jo Ann Hardesty, president of Portland NAACP; and Randy Blazak, chair of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime. A reception will follow.

“It’s important for the law school to engage within the legal community and create opportunities for conversation and education around these topics,” said Rebecca Ivanoff, associate director for the Center for Career Planning and Professional Development at the UO School of Law. “As our next generation of leaders in the profession, we want law students to attend this session and see how attorneys are getting involved and making a difference in this area.”

The session will touch on a variety of topics, Patterson said, including the difference between white supremacy and white nationalism, the traditional legal tools used to fight the groups in court, changes to laws and a look at recent hate-based crimes.

The cost is $25, $15 for Oregon State Bar Diversity Section members and free for law students.

To register, or for more information, email Shanelle Honda at