Thousands gather in Portland to honor the TriMet Heroes

Beth Nakamura | The Oregonian/OregonLive

Thousands of Portlanders gathered on Saturday to honor three men— now known as the TriMet Heroes— who were brutally attacked on MAX just a day earlier.

Local men Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namakai-Meche, 23, were murdered Friday afternoon on a MAX train in the Hollywood neighborhood by Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35. Another man, 21-year-old Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was also severely injured by Christian.

According to the Oregonian, Christian— a proud white supremacist— was yelling and screaming at two young Muslim women on a Friday afternoon MAX train. When Namakai-Meche, Best, and Fletcher intervened to stop the abuse, Christian— who is currently in police custody— began stabbing them.

On Saturday, thousands of Portlanders turned out to pay their respects to the fallen, near a grassy space by the Hollywood MAX station stop where the men were killed, according to Willamette Week. Images of the vigil can also be seen at The Portland Mercury and The Oregonian.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-Ore.) also attended the event. Merkely spoke, making mention of Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric, according to WW.

“A message of hate leads to violence,” he said, “and violence leads to tragedy.”

Despite Trump’s proclamations of being the “law and order” candidate, his hard-line approach to terrorism, and his championing of “America first,” he’s been mute so far on the Portland massacre.

It’s curious how Trump will beat his chest about the threat of terrorism when it concerns Muslims from foreign countries attacking Americans. When it comes to the type of terrorism that involves fellow citizens attacking Muslims in America, or even politically-motivated assaults, however, he can barely muster a word fragment. And that itself is maddening.

One of the biggest dangers from this attack in Portland is it instilling fear in others who want to intervene when such abuse is happening in front of their eyes. The lesson we should all take from the deaths of Best and Namakai-Meche is the opposite.

Americans who are against hatred and bigotry must stand even taller than they did on Friday. The darkness Trump has unleashed in this country is temporary, but that’s contingent on the rest of us standing together as one.

These local men have been appropriately dubbed the TriMet Heroes, and we must honor their memories by responding in turn with goodness whenever we encounter anything like the situation in which they found themselves. We must not put ourselves in direct danger with violent and extreme elements, of course, but we also cannot allow hate and fear to permeate our culture. That type of negativity must always be directly challenged regardless of your political leanings. Protecting fellow citizens is patriotic.

As Portlanders, we owe that to the TriMet heroes at the very least, especially considering the current climate of our city, in which there’s been six rallies or marches since Trump’s inauguration where some segment of the extreme right and militant left has engaged in public confrontations, according to WW.

A GoFundMe account is currently taking donations to help the families of the TriMet Heroes. You can donate here. The Mercury also has a number of other organizations who are collecting donations for those affected by the attack. Stay safe.

KW Smith

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