Portland police released further details about a stabbing incident on Friday where a man, named as Jeremy Christian, stabbed two men to death and wounded a third in what is being described as a hate crime incident.
The two victims, who the Washington Post identify as 23-year old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and 53-year old Ricky Best, were not the initial targets of the culprit's wrath. The culprit, whose name is Jeremy Christian, spouted racial and ethnic slurs while sitting on the Portland light rail. Observers noted that the slurs were targeted at a variety of ethnic groups, but were particularly focused on two girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab.
The victims went up to Christian to try and calm him down, but Christian suddenly and viciously stabbed them in the neck with a knife before fleeing the train on foot. The suspect was arrested later that night in an attack which has absolutely shocked the city.
Christian was a known white nationalist who had a prior conviction record for crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, and gun-related charges. He praised executed bomber Timothy McVeigh as a true patriot, had Nordic runes tattooed on his arms, and called himself a white nationalist.
But while Christian was certainly a white nationalist, his political views were all over the place. As Buzzfeed noted, Christian supported Bernie Sanders for president and expressed violent sentiments towards both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters. Furthermore, when he attempted to attend a Trump rally last April, Trump supporters told him to go away and asked if he was on drugs.
Yet at the same time, he was ardently in favor of gun rights and defending his free speech rights and was fond of comic books and marijuana. While political types on both sides will attempt to place Christian as an extremist of the other side, it appears that he is just a frothing, racist lunatic.
While there is no official confirmation that he will be charged with a hate crime, his anger towards the Muslim women, as well as the fact that the attack occurred on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, are aggravating factors. Unfortunately, the two women have not come forward to give a statement despite the urgings of the Portland police for witnesses to come forward.
Remembering the Victims
Rather than excessively focusing on the killer, Portland took the time to honor the memories of the victims. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the victims were heroes whose "actions were brave and selfless, and should serve as an example and inspiration to us all." A vigil was heard for the victims and family talked about these individuals' dedication to the community and how their lives had been cruelly snuffed out by doing the right thing.
Meche was a recent college graduate with an economics major and girlfriend while Best was an Army veteran and city employee who had four children.
While Portland is obviously united in commemorating the victims and condemning the killer, the incident shows how political and racial tensions have picked up both in the city and nationwide. The aforementioned Trump rally was part of a series of rallies on that day held by political groups across the spectrum in Portland, which unsurprisingly had some clashes and arrests.
Across the United States, protests in response to right-wing speakers have sparked further protests and fighting. The possibility of a Trump impeachment, which while low, is still higher compared to the start of his presidency, has also encouraged leftists and antifascists to fight hard and Trump supporters to react. And in that stew of recrimination, lunatics like Christian find it easier to take action.
[Featured Image By Gillian Flacus/AP Images]