Gypsy Jokers: the hidden pestilence of MLK Boulevard.

The Southern Poverty Lawn Center, a prominent NGO tracking hate groups in the United States, reported earlier this month that:

A massive investigation in Oregon shows evidence of a criminal web – involving guns, drugs, stolen property, identity theft and violence – linking white supremacists and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

“Operation White Christmas,” as the year-old investigation is code-named, so far has resulted in the arrests of 54 individuals, mostly in the Portland area, leading to 11 criminal cases in state court and another 43 in federal court…

Others arrested, investigators say, are associates of the Gypsy Jokers outlaw motorcycle gang whose members were believed to be involved in firearms and drug trafficking with the white supremacist gangs.


Incredibly, the Gypsy Jokers have a clubhouse on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, between Fremont and Beech on the west side. The clubhouse exits onto Garfield, and the Jokers own a house that borders the clubhouse on Garfield. (A couple of years ago, I went along Garfield to photograph the Jokers clubhouse, and someone came out of the house on Garfield to warn me away.)


The Gypsy Joker gang made the headlines last year when a member of the club, Joshua Cavett – his skin resplendent with white-supremacist tattoos – murdered his wife in front of their two-year-old daughter, after his wife obtained a restraining order against him. (For a response to this killing from a person writing with the lens of anti-domestic violence work, read the YWCA of Greater Portland’s post about it.)


Back in 2004 the Portland Police Bureau used a battering ram to invade the Gypsy Jokers’ compound on MLK; in 2008 the motorcycle club won a $50000 excessive force lawsuit about the Police Bureau resulting from the attack. An attorney for the Jokers at the time said, “Bikers still get a bad rap from some very dated stereotypes.”


Simon Sez Productions, referenced on the image above, is the organizer of the local Strip Poker Run, held annually.


I’ve said that if it’s happening somewhere in America, it also happens on a small scale in Portland, on MLK. Here’s our own piece of white supremacist thuggery, dearest Portland, on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.



Burger Barn/Christopher’s building to be saved?

Exciting news for MLK Boulevard: there’s now a campaign to preserve the Burger Barn building, last known as Christopher’s Gourmet Grill, at 3962 NE MLK. To find out more, email Teressa Raiford at

The building as it stands today:


Click the campaign link above for earlier photos of the building; here, for a snippet of info on the earlier uses of the building (and a photo of that chicken I never stop craving); here for a 1969 article on Albina, that includes a brief comment from a Burger Barn employee; and here for a Mercury article on the 1981 Burger Barn possum attack by police.

3962 NE MLK is the second oldest building on the boulevard, built in 1900.


Update: research by Dr. Tanya March reveals that Mrs. Katherine Gray, founder of the Harriet Tubman club and a founding member of  Zion AME Church, lived in the ‘Burger Barn’ building in the early 1900s, when the structure was new and Albina was largely a European immigrant neighborhood.




Photos from MLK Boulevard Renaming 25th Anniversary Celebration, p. 2



King Jay of the Oregon Black History Museum holding up a framed poster from the late 1980′s campaign to create a Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Portland.




My buddy Earl is in this photo (I ran into him on MLK last night, he was a bit buzzy…).


National anthem sung, to accompany the raising of a new United State flag above the MLK Boys and Girls Club, as part of the Renaming Anniversary celebration.


Diego Gioseffi of Green King talking with Marilyn Mauch of the Northeast Backpack Lunch Program.













Photos from MLK Boulevard Renaming 25th Anniversary Celebration, p. 1


April 27th, 2014 ~ Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the naming of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Celebration held at Boys and Girls Club on MLK Boulevard, co-hosted by King Neighborhood Association, World Arts Foundation, and the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods.


Imani Muhammad of MLK Boulevard Boys and Girls Club.





Reading of the names of the Martin Luther King Jr. Renaming Committee members, 1989.


These stickers from the campaign to create a Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the late 1980s were passed out.














Gentrification Visioning Meeting, June 27th.

African American Community Visioning Meetings -
Promoting Community Stabilization in the Face of Gentrification

A forum for Seniors/Elders on Friday, June 27 from 12:30pm – 2:00pm at the Urban League Multicultural Senior Center – 5325 NE MLK Blvd, Portland OR 97211.

Are you a former resident of N/NE Portland, interested in returning to the neighborhood?

Are you unsatisfied with your current housing/neighborhood living situation?

Are you interested in building a strong and stable community for African Americans in Portland?

We are developing a campaign to address gentrification and the challenges experienced by our community in the areas of employment, education, police violence and housing.

We will be holding several community forums to work together to build and advance a common vision for our community.  We hope you can join us!

To RSVP, or for questions, please contact:
Ph 503.249.1721 Ext 230

About us:
Founded in 2009, PAALF is a network of African American community members committed to advancing a common policy agenda in the areas of housing, economic development, health, education and civic engagement. PAALF is guided by a national network of African American Leadership Forums with local affiliates in 6 other major cities.

For more information, please visit:

Open meeting on June 28th for a proposed mural at 4008 NE MLK (at Shaver).



The neighborhood is invited to a public meeting to discuss a proposed new mural on the north side of the Irvington Covenant Church’s annex building, located at 4008 NE MLK. (The picture above shows the mural by Isaka Shamsud-Din that is on the south side of the same building.)

The north side of the building is currently painted blank; an earlier mural was removed when the building underwent repairs a couple of years ago.

The mural meeting is Saturday, June 28th, from 10 am to 10:30, inside the building at 4008 NE MLK. The artist is Peg Butler; you can email her at