Police investigating possible bias crime, arson after Portland occult bookstore fire

The store told those with information about "this heinous act of stupidity" to contact them, adding that if they don’t know anything, "your hexes against this a-hole are most appreciated."

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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Portland firefighters responded to reports of a fire early Monday morning at an occult bookstore. Police are investigating the fire as a possible arson and bias crime. Firefighters discovered a small pile of books burning when they arrived at around 4:30 am Monday morning and were able to extinguish it quickly. Smoke was seen coming out of a broken window at Dark Star Magick books, located on the corner of East Burnside Street and Northeast 8th Avenue, according to KGW8.

The bookstore claimed that the fire was a hate crime targeting the Pride display the story had set up for Pride month. Portland Police Bureau Public Information Manager Mike Benner told The Post Millennial that the department’s Major Crimes Unit is working with arson investigators to determine if a bias crime was committed.

"In another hate crime against our store, someone came by this morning at about 430 am, broke out a window and tried to torch our Pride display! Fortunately, the Fire Dept was able to get things under control before the fire spread to the occupied apartments upstairs and no one was hurt," the store posted to Facebook.

"It goes without saying that this hateful act will not go unanswered. The person who did this will get theirs. We are thankful for the amazing support we've always had from the Portland community and this act of hate does not represent the wonderful people of Portland. We will recover and we will continue on," the store added, stating that they would be closed "for an extra day or so to get everything back to normal."

They told those with information about "this heinous act of stupidity" to contact them, adding that if they don’t know anything, "your hexes against this a-hole are most appreciated."

Rick Graces, a spokesperson for Portland Fire and Rescue, said Monday morning that an "investigator is on scene performing a forensic evaluation of the fire. I am meeting up with him later at our press conference and will inquire of cause if we don’t know by then." The cause of the fire is currently unknown, and no injuries were reported. 

The store’s owner, Steve Kinchen, told KPTV that someone, after breaking the window, dumped an unknown fuel on their Pride display and set it on fire. “Whoever did this put at risk an entire apartment building full of people. They need to be caught. This is not acceptable,” Kinchen said. “This is not the Portland that we love. This kind of nonsense has to stop. We’re just small business people trying to make a living.”

An Instagram post from Monday afternoon showed that the window had been boarded up with plywood with a message in spraypaint on it that read "hate free zone." Dark Star Magick is described on its website as "a trader of fine antiquarian and rare collectible books on esoterica and occultism. We carry books on a variety of topics, even those that are controversial. While we do not necessarily endorse the content of every book we carry, we do believe in the exchange of ideas and the challenging of social norms."

The store carries books on topics such as "magick, witchcraft, Satanism, Thelema, alchemy, tarot, astrology, necromancy." The store also hosts classes and events, with the most recently announced one being titled "Satanism and the Alt-Right," a talk that will "focus on the role of members of the Church of Satan in facilitation the creation and dissemination of neo-Nazi terrorist idealogue James Manson’s 'Siege.'"

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