Portland man arrested for murder, intimidation in MAX train hate speech incident

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Saturday morning, 35-year-old Portland, Oregon man Jeremy Christian was arrested and taken to the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges including murder, attempted murder and intimidation after verbally harassing two young women on a train and then attacking three men with a knife.

Cquote1.svg At least two of the victims attempted to intervene with the suspect and calm him down. The suspect attacked the men, stabbing three, before leaving the train. Cquote2.svg

—Portland Police Bureau

An official statement from the Portland Police Bureau said Christian "was on the MAX train yelling various remarks that would be best characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions. At least two of the victims attempted to intervene with the suspect and calm him down. The suspect attacked the men, stabbing three, before leaving the train." According to witnesses, Christian approached 16-year-old Destinee Mangum and a Muslim friend of hers who was wearing a Muslim headdress. Of the three men who were attacked, one died on the train, another was pronounced dead later at a hospital, and a third is still alive.

"He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn't be here, to get out of his country," Mangum told KPTV on Saturday. "He was just telling us that we basically weren't anything and that we should kill ourselves." Mangum and her friend then changed seats to avoid Christian. "This white male from the back of us was like he's talking to you guys? You guys can't disrespect these young ladies like that. Then they just all started arguing." She said Christian began attacking people just as Mangum and her friend got off the train. "[I]t was just blood everywhere and we just started running for our lives."

Cquote1.svg He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn't be here, to get out of his country. Cquote2.svg

—Destinee Mangum of Jeremy Christian

"[T]hey lost their lives because of me and my friend, and the way we look[...] I just want to say thank you to them and their family, and that I appreciate them," said Mangum. "Without them, we probably would be dead right now."

The two men who died were Ricky John Best, age 53, and Taliesin Myddrin Namkai-Meche, 23. The third knife victim, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was still hospitalized as of today. Best, who served 23 years in the U.S. Army, left behind four children. Namkai-Meche graduated from Reed College with a degree in economics and was working as an intern. Fletcher, who has disclosed publicly he is on the autism spectrum, was profiled by Venture in 2015 for his participation in a Portland poetry slam. At that time, Fletcher disclosed he had been institutionalized for "erratic anger" during middle school.

Christian has come to the attention of police before. He was convicted of robbery and kidnapping in 2002. On April 29, he showed up to a right-wing free speech march armed with a baseball bat and threatened counter-protesters. He was wearing a U.S. flag like a cape, shouting racial epithets and making the Nazi salute. The police took away his bat. He attended a number of alt-right rallies and, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Christian has promoted white supremacist views on the Internet.

The attack took place the day before the beginning of the Muslim holy season, Ramadan. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked U.S. President Donald Trump to condemn the killings.


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