They started out as the good guys, a loose-knit group of young men who acted as protectors of those who frequented Boston's often-raucous punk scene in the 1980s. Friends Stand United, as they called themselves, often did battle with neo-Nazi skinheads, who were known for instigating fights and beating kids who didn't agree with their racist agenda.
In Seattle two decades later, a local "chapter" of Friends Stand United (FSU) is gaining a reputation for beatings and intimidating behavior and is being blamed for driving a violent wedge into the city's hardcore music scene, a subculture that's existed here for years.
From the FSU perspective, one member said the group is about brotherhood, respect and an understanding of hardcore's roots, which in the Northwest were often in rural, working-class neighborhoods where kids were forced to grow up fast and tough. He said the group tries to protect young people who go to hardcore shows.
In the Feb. 25 incident outside Studio Seven, a police sergeant on patrol spotted "Seattle FSU" emblazoned on the back of a man's leather jacket. The sergeant, who knew about the group and earlier complaints, initiated a search of about 25 men after someone dropped a set of brass knuckles, according to the police report. In addition to brass knuckles, the police pat-downs turned up knives, a bulletproof vest, pepper spray and a couple of handguns.