Sunday, January 24, 2010

HOW PORTLAND DEPORTED GYPSIES DURING WWII


A Romani friend of mine who lives in Portland Oregon has contacted the Mayor of Portland, Mr. Sam Adams, requesting that he declare August 2nd Romani Day in Portland.

This got me thinking. Maybe we should contact our respective mayors and at least call for a proclamation in recognition of the Romani and a call for the end of the pograms throughout Europe.

I think that we would aim for April 8th which would coincide with World Romani Day.
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How Portland deported its Gypsies during World War II
By Michael Munk
The Portland Alliance
July 2001

The deportation of Portland’s Japanese-Americans to concentration camps in 1942 was a decision of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, but ridding Portland of most of its Romany-American families two years later was a decision of Mayor Earl Riley and the ruling elite of the city.

A few Gypsies had lived in Portland since the turn of the century, but not until World War II’s Kaiser shipyards imported ten of thousands of new workers did the city’s political leaders decide that this growing community-- numbering about a dozen families or 60 men, women and children-- weren’t welcome. Because housing restrictions had been relaxed during the war, the racist city council passed Ordinance 22-412 making storefront residences illegal and declared any indication of fortune telling a crime. The Police Red squad and the wartime Federal Security Agency placed the families under surveillance, but their undercover spies disagreed over whether they had witnessed any evidence of prostitution in the gypsy community.

By late 1944, Mayor Riley, whom the leading Portland historian E. Kimbark MacColl reports built a secret vault in his City Hall office to keep his “percentage of vice protection payments,” decided the gypsies had to go right during the Christmas season. Claiming that they “had flocked here under the pretext of becoming war workers” and were “a blemish on the fair name of the city,” he persuaded the Roosevelt administration to provide them with enough scarce gasoline to drive four crammed “jallopies” to Texas. When a deportee requested more time to pack and protested some “kids were sick..and we gotta have money to eat on,” a police officer responded, “You better get going and quick.”

The city also warned the gypsies they would be prosecuted if they didn’t use their gas rations except for driving to Texas. The Oregon Journal, perhaps referring to the Riley’s paymasters in the Portland underworld, suggested that “others who deal in vice and chance cause more corruption and commit more crime. But the subject is the gypsy menace. They just don’t belong. They’ve got to go.” Portland business leaders continued to support the corrupt Riley even when he was successfully challenged by reformer Dorothy McCullough Lee in 1949.

9 comments:

Gordon said...

Still no word from the Honorable Mayor Sam Adams on the subject of Romani day here in Portland. But so many levels could do this on. Local, State, and Federal. But wondering if we are recognized an ethnic group or on any level, when it comes to the Government in this country? Casimire

Anonymous said...

You have really great taste on catch article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it

Anonymous said...

You have really great taste on catch article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it

AMEN said...

Searching for Romani musicians in Portland. If you know any, pleas email me or have them email me. OPRE! OPRE! OPRE! paintamen@gmail.com

Casimire 7 said...

Still no word from our his Honor Samuel Adams, but he has more then his share of problems and I'll leave it at that. But Romani Day would help to mend some fences that is for sure. Thanks for your Post Amen!
Gordon Casimire Willimasii
casimire777@gmail.com

Bryce Phillips Harworth said...

There is a large Roma community in Portland and they are still struggling with a lot of stereotypes and attacks on their right to do business. I hate to say it because I love Portland but in a lot of ways it is a segregated town

This is an article from the Oregonian from December 14th:

A patriarch of Portland's close-knit clan of Gypsies was accused this week of filing a false tax return, the latest development in his four-year battle with the U.S. government.

Bobbie Ephrem, a 53-year-old auto dealer, fell under suspicion in March 2006, when a police informant told IRS agents that Ephrem concealed huge amounts of cash, failed to pay taxes and often used his son's Social Security number, court records show.

The informant told the IRS that Ephrem's retail auto sales business in Northeast Portland raked in $50,000 a month and that a wholesale auto business had brought in $355,000 during a four-day auction in Spokane.

In August 2006, IRS agents carried a search warrant to Ephrem's house and asked about cash and valuables. Ephrem told them he had nothing of consequence in the home, other than perhaps his Rolex watch, the government alleges.

But in less than seven hours, agents turned up $366,768.50 in currency and the keys to safe-deposit boxes. The next day, agents seized $2.3 million more from safe-deposit boxes at three Portland area banks, bringing total cash seizures to $2.7 million.

The IRS issued Ephrem a rare "tax jeopardy assessment," accusing him of not filing income taxes for nine years and calculating that he owed taxes, penalties and interest of $8.5 million.

Ephrem hired prominent Portland lawyer Marc Blackman and sued the government. His complaint accused the IRS of stealing his family fortune, which included more than $1 million of "sacred" inheritance money that belonged to him, his three brothers and a nephew.

Lawyers representing the government and Ephrem's family argued the case for two days before U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman.

The government characterized the $2.7 million seized by the IRS as the misbegotten fruits of a currency-hoarding tax dodger. But Ephrem's lawyers and their witnesses argued that the bulk of the cash was inheritance money, loans, gifts and other proceeds from his extended family; it was his duty, as patriarch, to hold the money.

Ephrem's backers described him as a leader among roughly 3,000 American Gypsies in Portland, who call themselves Roma. They are a cloistered, cash-on-the-barrelhead community that -- after generations of persecution and stereotypes -- tends to eschew checking or bank accounts.

Mosman ordered the government to give back the $2.7 million, with interest, and it did.

Federal prosecutors signed a one-count felony information against Ephrem on Monday that accuses Ephrem of willfully filing a 2006 tax return that he knew was false.

The charge carries a potential prison term of up to three years.

-- Bryan Denson

Bryce Phillips-Harworth said...

This article is from the Oregonian from December 14th

A patriarch of Portland's close-knit clan of Gypsies was accused this week of filing a false tax return, the latest development in his four-year battle with the U.S. government.

Bobbie Ephrem, a 53-year-old auto dealer, fell under suspicion in March 2006, when a police informant told IRS agents that Ephrem concealed huge amounts of cash, failed to pay taxes and often used his son's Social Security number, court records show.

The informant told the IRS that Ephrem's retail auto sales business in Northeast Portland raked in $50,000 a month and that a wholesale auto business had brought in $355,000 during a four-day auction in Spokane.

In August 2006, IRS agents carried a search warrant to Ephrem's house and asked about cash and valuables. Ephrem told them he had nothing of consequence in the home, other than perhaps his Rolex watch, the government alleges.

But in less than seven hours, agents turned up $366,768.50 in currency and the keys to safe-deposit boxes. The next day, agents seized $2.3 million more from safe-deposit boxes at three Portland area banks, bringing total cash seizures to $2.7 million.

The IRS issued Ephrem a rare "tax jeopardy assessment," accusing him of not filing income taxes for nine years and calculating that he owed taxes, penalties and interest of $8.5 million.

Ephrem hired prominent Portland lawyer Marc Blackman and sued the government. His complaint accused the IRS of stealing his family fortune, which included more than $1 million of "sacred" inheritance money that belonged to him, his three brothers and a nephew.

Lawyers representing the government and Ephrem's family argued the case for two days before U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman.

The government characterized the $2.7 million seized by the IRS as the misbegotten fruits of a currency-hoarding tax dodger. But Ephrem's lawyers and their witnesses argued that the bulk of the cash was inheritance money, loans, gifts and other proceeds from his extended family; it was his duty, as patriarch, to hold the money.

Ephrem's backers described him as a leader among roughly 3,000 American Gypsies in Portland, who call themselves Roma. They are a cloistered, cash-on-the-barrelhead community that -- after generations of persecution and stereotypes -- tends to eschew checking or bank accounts.

Mosman ordered the government to give back the $2.7 million, with interest, and it did.

Federal prosecutors signed a one-count felony information against Ephrem on Monday that accuses Ephrem of willfully filing a 2006 tax return that he knew was false.

The charge carries a potential prison term of up to three years.

-- Bryan Denson

Morgan said...

Hi Bryce. Thanks for the article. It's on the blog already. I think the date is Dec 16th.

Send me an email sometime. I wonder how you're doing.

Baxthale,
Morgan

Anonymous said...

Well, well. We should have a Romani day. It would be the day we all pay tribute to the countless dollars lost by their lying gypsy tactics, especially with anything automotive. I was ripped off by a fellow wh called himself a Ristick (Ristik?) Friends of mine have been. I can supply lists of people all ripped off by these fools as they drive up and down neighborhoods trying to talk people into ridiculous prices for cars, offering to do cheap bodywork right in the driveway, etc. They will test drive a car, then change the parts out of it with bad similar parts ---thats how some of them keep from having to buy anything new. I personally know a dealer in town who made the mistake of selling on contract to one of them. The dealer has never seen the money. They always speak roma to each other and you cant tell whats going mon. They go by Ellis, Ephrem, Ristick?, George and others. Ive one guy give two different names to different people he was trying to rip off. I know a family who was hit for thousands on an asphalt paving scam. The gypsies gave a really low price and wanted half up front. They had been driving all around the Banks area with a dump truck full of warm asphalt---probably taken from some job site beside the hiway, and dumped it by the peoples garage. The driveway was about 1/8 mile. They said the up front fee was to go buy the rest of the paving material and they left, never to return. The family heard from others in the area who had been hit in the same way. Were all thes rip offs by Romani people? Well whoever the people are, they allways give names, usually Ristick. They allways speak ma very strange, almost Indian language to each other. They are INFAMOUS in the used car world. I ws personally riped of by a guy who said he was Paul Ristick. A friend of mine ripped by Tim Ristick. A mechanic friend ripped by Lonnie Ristick. He did major work on their truck but they kept lying to him about paying. The truck sat where the mechanic worked for 4 days, then nthe Risticks came in the middle of the night to try and steal it. They were seen and took off. Next day they told him to take it off the jack stands and they were coming with money. He did, but his wife became ill and he took her to the doctor. The Risticks never showed up until after dark but they had spare keys and stole the vehicle without paying. Regarding the Ephrem car lot owner and the IRS? What a joke! Telling the court all his cash was 'sacred' money and that he held it for many others who owned it!! LOL! All those people may have some legit jobs but for the most part they live in a PURE CASH world, paying no tax on what they take from people. ARe there nice, legit Romani people here? Probably. Ive never met one. All my encounters have been with rip off artist Romani.