Portland stabbing victim’s mom urges Trump to speak out

  • Tuesday, May 30, 2017 12:52pm
  • Local NewsNorthwest
Jeremy Joseph Christian (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Jeremy Joseph Christian (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

By Steven Dubois / Associated Press

PORTLAND — The mother of one of two men fatally stabbed last week on a light-rail train trying to protect young women from anti-Muslim abuse has urged President Donald Trump to encourage all Americans to protect and watch out for one another.

In a letter dated Monday and made public Tuesday, the mother of 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche asked Trump to “condemn any acts of violence, which result directly from hate speech & hate groups.”

Asha Deliverance said doing so “would deeply honor Taliesin’s sacrifice, which has been amplified by the millions of voices who have supported our family in response to this tragedy.”

Deliverance in her letter did not address Trump’s condemnation of the attacks on Monday, when he tweeted: “The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them.”

Suspect Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, was scheduled to appear Tuesday afternoon in court to face two counts of felony aggravated murder and other charges.

The stabbings happened Friday after police said Christian verbally abused the two young women, including one wearing a hijab. Meche and another man were killed after they intervened. A third man who also intervened and was wounded was released Tuesday from a hospital.

The attacker shouted foul language and ranted against Muslims just after he boarded the train last Friday, passenger Rachel Macy told The Oregonian/OregonLive (https://goo.gl/6nESya ).

Rick Best, the other victim, who died stood closest to the man and tried to calm him down. Someone gave Christian a slight push to move him away from the girls, Macy said.

Macy said she saw that Namkai-Meche was holding up his phone but Macy said she did not know if he was recording the confrontation. Suddenly, she said, Christian hit the phone away and stabbed Namkai-Meche in the neck.

With his face pale and flannel shirt soaked in blood, Namkai-Meche stumbled past Macy. Holding his hand to his neck, he said, “I’m going to die,” she recalled.

“I just kept telling him, ‘You’re not alone. We’re here,” Macy said. “What you did was total kindness.”

“Tell everyone on this train I love them,” Namkai-Meche told Macy as paramedics prepared to take him away.

Namkai-Meche’s mother wrote that her son and Best witnessed injustice when they saw the two passengers being harassed and did not hesitate to confront the bully.

Christian’s social media postings indicate an affinity for Nazis and political violence. He served time in after holding up employees at a convenience store with a gun in 2002, court records show. Telephone messages left at the home of Christian’s mother Sunday and Monday were not returned.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler urged organizers of a “Trump Free Speech Rally” scheduled for Sunday in a park to cancel it, saying the event was inappropriate after the stabbings and speculating that it could turn violent.

Wheeler said he would deny any applications by organizers to apply for a permit, though it was not clear whether they had sought city permission, which would be needed if the protesters want to march on streets around the park.

Prohibiting a rally based on the political views of demonstrators would be unconstitutional even though “our hearts are broken” following the stabbings, said Mat Dos Santos, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.

The rally’s organizer Joey Gibson, told KGW ( http://bit.ly/2rkrPbI ) he is a libertarian promoting free speech. He said organizers already have a permit for the rally from federal authorities who control the downtown park.

Gibson did not immediately return a Facebook request for comment from The Associated Press.

A Facebook page promoting the event with speakers and live music said it will feature Kyle Chapman, who describes himself as an American nationalist and Trump supporter. He was arrested at a March 4 protest in Berkeley, California.

Wheeler’s call for the rally to be cancelled came amid a wider debate in the U.S. about the First Amendment, often in liberal cities like Portland and Berkeley and on college campuses, where violent protests between far-right and far-left protesters have derailed appearances by contentious figures.

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