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Founded by former California Klan leader Tom Metzger in 1983, WAR has been the leading information and propaganda clearinghouse for the neo-Nazi skinhead movement in the United States. In addition to its catalyzing presence among young hatemongers, WAR on at least one occasion has played an instigating role: in 1988, Dave Mazzella, then billed as a WAR "vice-president," met with members of a Portland, Oregon, skinhead gang, East Side White Pride. After receiving a "crash course" with Mazzella on the finer points of street brawling and ethnic intimidation, three members of the gang attacked a group of Ethiopian immigrants with a baseball bat and steel-toed boots. One of the immigrants, Mulugeta Seraw, was murdered.
In response to this hate crime, ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1990 instituted civil litigation against Metzger on behalf of the Seraw family. With the participation of Mazzella-who was not charged in the murder and who meanwhile had left the racist movement and renounced his ties to the Metzgers-the two civil rights groups were able to secure a $12.5 million judgment against WAR and Metzger. Upheld on appeal in April 1993, this judgment is one of the largest civil verdicts of its kind in U.S. history. Nonetheless, WAR continues to publish a monthly tabloid and operates a telephone hate message service, as well as an Internet Home Page, to disseminate the lowest level of hatemongering propaganda against Jews, Blacks and other groups. With a proven record of violence, WAR remains a group whose activities and publications demand the attention of law enforcement and the condemnation of the public.