Two men have been killed and one remains hospitalized after they attempted to stop an anti-Muslim attack. Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, both had their throats slit and died shortly after they approached Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35.
Christian was reportedly hurling anti-Muslim rhetoric and threats at two teenagers on a Metro Area Express train on May 26. Namkai-Meche, Best and a third passenger named Micah David-Cole Fletcher tried to form a wall to protect the teenagers before they were attacked. As a result of the incident, Christian has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder, according to CNN.
“He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn’t be here, to get out of his country,” Destinee Mangum, 16, told KPTV. “He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should just kill ourselves.”
Magnum, one of the girls who was targeted, recently thanked the men who saved her and a friend that day.
“I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me,” Mangum said. “Because they didn’t even know me and they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look.”
Federal hate crime charges could also be brought against Christian, who has a history of posting racist messages on social media and supporting the radical “alt-right” movement.
The city of Portland spent the weekend mourning the tragedy and preparing for any potential blowback from either side of the political spectrum. Mayor Ted Wheeler is currently doing all he can to make sure two scheduled “alt-right” demonstrations from happening – one of which is being billed as a #MarchAgainstSharia.
“My main concern is that they are coming to peddle a message of hatred and of bigotry,” Wheeler said. “They have a First Amendment right to speak, but my pushback on that is that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Organizers of the rallies are distancing themselves from Christian despite his regular support in the pro-Trump community. Multiple videos have circulated showing him with an American flag draped over his shoulders as he throws nazi salutes to any onlookers in his view.
“Jeremy Christian has nothing to do with us. He hated us, he threatened me. We did everything we could to kick him out. We didn’t want him with us,” said Joey Gibson, organizer of the “Trump Free Speech Rally Portland” scheduled to take place on June 4. That rally has already been given a permit by the federal government and a local chapter of the ACLU argues that it can’t be taken back.
1. The government cannot revoke or deny a permit based on the viewpoint of the demonstrators. Period. https://t.co/P9gcNPAumH
— ACLU of Oregon (@ACLU_OR) May 29, 2017