The man accused of fatally stabbing two men in Portland, Oregon, when they tried to shield young women from his anti-Muslim tirade, made repeated outbursts in court on Tuesday, including shouting: “You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism!”
Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, was in Multnomah County courtroom Tuesday afternoon for his first court appearance on two counts of felony aggravated murder and other charges for the Friday attack.
Authorities say Christian started verbally abusing two young women, including one wearing a hijab. Three men on the train intervened before police say Christian attacked them, killing two and wounding one.
As Christian walked into the courtroom he yelled out: “Free speech or die, Portland! You got no safe place. This is America. Get out if you don’t like free speech!
Standing behind glass partitions in the defendant’s area, he continued: “Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom. Death to Antifa! You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism! You hear me? Die.”
As he finished his statement, a crowd of about 30 anti-fascist protesters who were watching a livestream on their phones, could be heard yelling outside the courtroom doors.
On Friday, authorities say, Christian started verbally abusing two young women, including one wearing a hijab, on a light-rail train. Police say when three other men on the train, including surviving victim Micah Fletcher, intervened, Christian attacked them. The other two men, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53, were killed.
Christian told jailers that he has no income, no mental health issues and does not remember the last time he had a permanent address. Court documents based on Jeremy Christian’s interview at the Multnomah County jail show he was concerned about free speech. The interviewer wrote that Christian became loud and animated when talking about what he believed to be the suppression of free speech.
Christian said he went to school through ninth grade, but passed the high school equivalency exam commonly known as the GED and took some community college classes. He has three prior felonies.
The homicide detective investigating the attack said in court documents that surveillance and cellphone video showed Christian cutting the three victims with a knife. Detective Michele Michaels said in a probable cause affidavit made public Tuesday that the videos had audio of Christian spewing racial and religious epithets during the attack.
Michaels says Fletcher told her Christian yelled the epithets and also threatened to decapitate people.
Fletcher told local news station KGW-TV on Tuesday that he was having a difficult time processing what happened and was focusing on getting better.
“I got stabbed in the neck on my way to work, randomly, by a stranger I don’t know, for trying to just be a nice person,” said Fletcher, who was released from the hospital on Tuesday. “I don’t know what to do after that, you know.”
The mother of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche has asked Trump to encourage Americans to protect and watch out for each other. In a letter to Trump, Asha Deliverance said her son and two other men did not hesitate to confront the bully because the two female passengers were being harassed and that she was grieving but proud of her son’s selfless action.
She urged Trump to condemn acts of violence that result from hate speech and hate groups.
The president said in a tweet Monday that the three stabbing victims stood up to hate and intolerance, and the attack was unacceptable.
Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland said he appreciated Trump’s words but stressed the need for action. Wheeler urged organizers to cancel a “Trump free speech rally” in Portland and other similar events next weekend, saying they were inappropriate and could be dangerous.
Outside the packed courtroom on Tuesday, around 30 anti-fascist protesters waited. Around 2.35 pm, a man who identified himself only as a friend of the suspect emerged from the courtroom and was immediately confronted by the crowd who yelled: “You’re a Nazi” and “Where’s your pride now?”
He answered: “In my heart.”
Deputies worked hard to separate him from the crowd and he was eventually escorted out of the building by a deputy, with two protesters following at a distance.
At one point, police tried to move the group of protesters down the hall. One protester asked: “Why are you protecting Nazis? Protect us.”
A deputy answered: “We did.”
Credit: The Guardian