PORTLAND, Ore. – Mass transit came to a halt for a moment of silence in Portland, Oregon, on Friday, one week after a deadly stabbing on a Metropolitan Area Express train.
City mass transit agency TriMet ordered trains to stop at station platforms and buses to pull over along their routes at noon (3 p.m. ET) to “honor the men who lost their lives and those forever affected by the tragic events on a MAX train … one week ago.”
Crowds of people stood quietly, some holding signs that displayed photos of the two men killed and the one man injured by the attacker.
Amy Heil was shocked when she saw the photo of victim Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, because he was a fellow graduate of Reed College in Oregon.
“We came out to feel tangibly what we’re already feeling in our hearts, to experience what this means to everybody,” she said.
John Worsley, another Reed graduate, said he wished something besides a tragedy could bring out large numbers of people on a Friday afternoon.
“For the world to really change, so these things don’t happen, we need to love our enemies,” he said.
Namkai-Meche, 23, and Ricky Best, 53, were killed when they tried to stop a man who was yelling what “would best be characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions” at two women on a light-rail train, Portland police said.
Micah Fletcher, 21, also intervened and was injured. Police said all three were stabbed by Jeremy Joseph Christian, who was arrested shortly after the attack.
Destinee Mangum, 16, said she and a friend, who was wearing a hijab, were on the receiving end of Christian’s rant. She told CNN affiliate KPTV, “He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn’t be here, to get out of this country.”
“He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should just kill ourselves,” Mangum said.
TriMet said all passengers on vehicles or at stations on Friday were “invited to observe one minute in quiet reflection.”
“We all stand together as one to reject hate and offer this small tribute honoring the sacrifice made by Rick Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, as well as the actions of Micah Fletcher,” TriMet said in statement.
Outburst in court
Christian was arraigned Tuesday on several charges, including two counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder, two counts of second-degree intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.
Christian began yelling when he entered the courtroom, shouting, “Get out if you don’t like free speech…You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism. You hear me? Die.”
Audio and video recording devices in police car captured Christian’s statements after his arrest.
“I hope they all die. I’m gonna say that on the stand. I’m a patriot, and I hope everyone I stabbed died,” Christian said, according to the affidavit.
Dueling rallies planned
The deadly train attack is providing a tense backdrop for dueling rallies planned in Portland on Sunday.
The Federal Protective Service will bring in extra officers to patrol a free speech rally organized by the group Patriot Prayer, police Chief Mike Marshman told CNN affiliate KATU.
Kyle Chapman, a right-wing nationalist, is expected to make an appearance, KATU reported.
Patriot Prayer says on Facebook the rally will be “an uplifting experience to bring back strength and courage to those who believe in freedom.”
But Mayor Ted Wheeler said he’s concerned “they are coming to peddle a message of hatred and of bigotry.”
Wheeler asked the federal government to pull the permit for the rally, which will be held in an area under federal jurisdiction, in the wake of the train stabbings. He said he was concerned about public safety.
“Our city is in mourning, our community’s anger is real, and the timing and subject of these events can only exacerbate an already difficult situation,” Wheeler said on Facebook.
The General Services Administration refused to revoke the permit, saying it was applied for properly.
“I respect the decision of GSA to allow the organizers to keep their permit, but I remain concerned about the safety of Portlanders, both in and around the protest,” the mayor said on the city website.
In response to the Patriot Prayer event, an opposing rally has been planned at the same time and in the same place, KATU said. The opposition rally is called “Mobilize Labor: Fascists Out of Portland.”