By Dru Barcelo
Last Sunday Morning during Memorial Day weekend in the Hollywood Transit Center in Portland, Oregon, two Portland men, 53-year-old Ricky John Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, were fatally stabbed on the light-rail train after they tried to stop a man from shouting anti-Muslim insults at teenager Destinee Hudson and her friend, one of whom was wearing a hijab. Micah Fletcher, who also intervened, was badly wounded but survived.
Meche, of southeast Portland, died at a hospital following the attack; Best, however, was killed at the scene of the attack.
Responsible for these two accounts of murder and one count of attempted murder was 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian. Known to be a white supremacist, Christian spewed what “would best be characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions,” turning his anger toward those who sought to calm him down. After having fatally stabbed the two victims and seriously injured the third, he fled the train by foot.
The police search didn’t last long, as witness accounts gave officers enough information to track down and arrest Christian. He is being held without bail on two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of intimidation in the second degree and one count of possession of a restricted weapon as a felon.
Unfortunately, this is not an unfamiliar scene in America today. Hate crimes against minorities have increasingly become the norm, especially acts against the muslim community who have been falsely associated wholistically as terrorists. The religion has been a highly susceptible target to white supremacist hate groups and individuals such as Mr. Christian.
However, though shrouded in sadness and mourn, there is a silver lining. On the day of the attack, three white Americans stood up to hate against their fellow white man to defend a woman who was vilified for wearing her hijab. Two of these men were slain, bringing out a further outcry throughout all of America. The voice of the voiceless minorities have been heard and that is evident through these men’s actions.
Namkai Meche was a 2016 graduate of Reed College in Portland who majored in economics, with a bright future and life ahead of him. John Best was father to four children, as well as an Army veteran in his mid forties who served as a city employee. Micah Fletcher is a student at Portland State University, aspiring to be a poet focusing on social justice issues.
All three of these men put their lives at risk in order to stand up for the social justice of Destinee Hudson, a step in the right direction.