Terror in Portland: Stabbings on Portland’s Max train raise concerns about growing white supremacism

On Friday, May 26, white nationalist Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, stabbed three people in Portland, Oregon, killing two. The stabbing victims came to the defense of two teenage girls, one of which was wearing a hijab, being verbally attacked by Christian. Witnesses recount Christian yelling various slurs at the girls, including anti-Muslim insults.

Rick Best, 53, a 23 year U.S. Army Veteran and father was killed while confronting a belligerent Christian. Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, a recent graduate from Reed College in Portland was also killed while intervening. Micah Fletcher, 21, a poet and PSU student, was the lone survivor. Fletcher was present at Christian’s arraignment on Tuesday, May 30, sitting defiantly in the front row.

“If you live here, move here, or if you want to call this city home – it is your home. And we must protect each other like that is the truth, no matter what the consequences,” Fletcher told ABC on Tuesday, May 30 before Christian’s arraignment.

Christian yelled into the courtroom several times during his arraignment, saying things like, “You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism.”

Upon entering the courtroom Christian yelled, “free speech or die, Portland. You got no safe place. This is America, get out if you don’t like free speech.”

Christian is a well-known white supremacist in Portland, being shown in videos of “free speech” rallies attended by far-right Trump supporters, doing the Nazi salute, spewing racial slurs, and brandishing a baseball bat.

Christian’s Facebook account shows many violent and racist statements, along with references to alt-right terms such as “kekistan,” “autist” and “libtard” from both Christian and communications with friends on Facebook. Christian does reference support for left-leaning candidates like Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders but reveals the facetious nature of his claims by also identifying as a political nihilist and espousing many views contrary to that of those candidates.

The Portland attack is the latest in a recent string of terrorist attacks carried out by white supremacists with racial and religious motivations. In 2015, Dylan Roof opened fire inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina killing nine unarmed churchgoers, all of whom were black people.

On May 20, Lt. Richard Collins III was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack by white supremacist Sean Urbanski.

On April 30, a white gunman opened fire at a pool in La Jolla, a neighborhood in San Diego, California, injuring seven people and killing one. The crowd was predominantly comprised of people of color. Witnesses and victims said his motivation was racial, although police said there was no evidence suggesting that was the case.

On March 21, self-identified white supremacist James Jackson stabbed and killed 66 year old Timothy Jackson while he was collecting bottles. Jackson later said in an interview that he wanted to kill as many black men as possible and frequented the same racist websites as Roof.

Professors Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer discussed a rise in white nationalist terrorism in a 2015 opinion piece published in The New York Times, titled The Growing Right-Wing Terror Threat.

“The 20 plots that were carried out [by Islamic extremists] accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years,” Kurzman and Schander explained. “In contrast, right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has called for the revocation of permits for two upcoming alt-right events planned in Portland. There has been no word yet on whether or not the events will take place.

Story by K. Rambo