Jeremy Joseph Christian fatally stabbed two men and injured another in Portland on a commuter train after they tried to intervene when he began yelling anti-Muslim slurs at two women, one of whom was wearing a hijab.
Destinee Hudson, 16, and her 17-year-old Muslim friend, who is not publicly identified, were on a MAX downtown train when Christian approached them and began shouting racial slurs at them.
Destinee’s mother, Dyjuana Hudson told The Oregonian that Christian was saying that “Muslims should die.”
The victims are 53-year-old Ricky John Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche. The third victim is Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, who is being treated at a hospital but is expected to survive.
Namkai-Meche just graduated with an economics degree from Reed College. His family released a statement about his tragic death saying, “In his final act of bravery, he held true to what he believed is the way forward,” adding, “We ask that in honor of his memory, we use this tragedy as an opportunity for reflection and change.”
Rick Best was a father of four and an army veteran. His supervisor at the Bureau of Development Services, Kareen Perkins, told The Oregonian, “it’s just like Rick to step in and help somebody out.”
The 35-year-old assailant is a known local white supremacist and a convicted felon. According to the Portland Mercury, Christian attended the “March for Free Speech” rally, where he brought a baseball bat in an attempt to assault left-wing protesters. At the rally, he was heard yelling racial slurs and gave the Nazi salute throughout the day.
At a news conference, the special agent in charge of the Portland FBI office, Loren Cannon, said,”It’s too early to say whether last night’s violence was an act of domestic terrorism or a federal hate crime.”
The Muslim Education Trust and CelebrateMercy, two Muslim-run nonprofit organizations, quickly created a LaunchGood campaign called “Muslims Unite for Portland Heroes” to financially help the victims’ families with funeral expenses and other expenses that may arise.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a statement urging President Trump to denounce the hate crime in Oregon. The National Executive Director of CAIR, Nihad Awad, said in a press release, “Only a strong statement from the nation’s leader will send a message to bigots that such acts of violence targeting racial, ethnic or religious minorities are unacceptable.”
CAIR is offering free copies of its manual, “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety,” to Muslim community leaders. The manual can be requested here.
Linda Sarsour, an active community organizer based in New York, said in a tweet, “What happened in Oregon IS TERRORISM,” adding, “Two men stabbed to death for standing up to bigotry/racism/Islamophobia. Definition of terrorism.”