Building Community Defense: It Did Happen Here

By Firestorm Coop

What does it take to keep fascists and white nationalist organizations out of our communities? Contributors to “It Did Happen Here,” a new oral history of successful anti-racist organizing in Portland, reflect on the hard-won lessons from the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s and 90s.

It Did Happen Here: An Antifascist People’s History compiles interviews with dozens of people who worked together during the waning decades of the twentieth century to reveal an inspiring collaboration between groups of immigrants, civil rights activists, militant youth, and queer organizers. This oral history focuses on participants in three core groups: the Portland chapters of Anti-Racist Action and Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, and the Coalition for Human Dignity.

Coyote Amrich (she/her) stepped behind a camera when she was fifteen and found a way to share with others how she viewed the world. Fortunate to have been raised in a household that valued activism, Coyote has been protesting injustice since she was young—from roller skating at the front of early Pride marches in Portland, OR to being a fixture at anti-war and anti-hate demonstrations. Documenting these protests and political actions was an extension of that, giving Coyote a purpose beyond participation.

Moe Bowstern is an @-zone alum, writer, laborer, Fisher Poet, and DIY social practice artist. Moe is the longtime editor of many publications, including the commercial fishing zine Xtra Tuf. She was a writer on both the book and podcast versions of It Did Happen Here and lives in Portland, OR.

Jon Bair grew up in Portland, OR, and in his teen years actively confronted white supremacist gangs there. He was a founding member of the Portland United Baldies and during a tragic encounter that escalated into a gun fight, Bair inadvertently shot and killed the lead singer of a Neo-Nazi rock band. Bair spent his 20s in prison and on parole before returning to Portland to become a skilled carpenter, husband, and father to five children. Now living in LA, he continues to be an activist against fascism, with deeper understanding about the inherent consequences of violence.

China is a dedicated activist, community organizer, doula, and educator. She is the founder and Executive Director of Muslims United, a nonprofit that makes space for Muslim women’s leadership, as well as the Hidayah Women’s Resource & Advocacy Project, an advocacy program for Muslim survivors of violence. She has worked at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and as a science teacher at the Islamic School of Portland. China attended Tuskegee University and went on to earn her B.S. in biology at Portland State University. As a teenager, she found herself fighting fascism on the streets of Portland.

Michael Clark is a proud small business owner and father of three great kids. He has been active in the recovery community in Portland for the last seventeen years and is thankful for the opportunity to be of service.

Jonathan Mozzochi was a founding member of the Portland-based Coalition for Human Dignity, and spent much of the 1980s-1990s specializing in research and intelligence that targeted the far-right. He currently blogs at