Man accused of yelling racial slurs at Indian family on MAX train

Man accused of yelling racial slurs at family

PORTLAND, Ore. -- During his arraignment, 35-year-old Steven Klopp took a moment to speak his mind.

"I'm the nicest person who should have never been behind jail in American history," said Klopp.

He defended himself after being accused of getting on the MAX at the Urban Center stop on the Portland State University campus and confronting an Indian student and her parents in mid-June. In court, he said he didn't initiate it. But police have a different story.

“He started using swear words at them and telling them they should leave this country, go back to their country. During this altercation the man spat on the student’s mother,” said Sgt. Willie Halliburton, with PSU Campus Public Safety.

Halliburton said Klopp made comments about how he was a "great American" as he was being arrested near Southwest 10th Avenue and Market Street.

“We were able to arrest him yesterday and get him off the street because you know, who knows how this thing could have ended up if he continued this type of harassment,” said Halliburton.

But for some, the idea of getting harassed based on their race is all too common.

“Obviously there's been a pretty big problem with race in our country and unfortunately in Portland too,” said Ajesh Saini.

While Saini doesn't know the Indian woman involved, he can relate. He said he and his family are profiled on a daily basis.

“It's always a fear you know. You never know what's going to happen or when it's going to happen,” he said.

In court documents, when investigators asked Klopp if he knew the victim, he said he didn't know them and that the person was a "foreign Indian" who doesn't speak English.

As for Klopp, his twin brother Matthew told KGW over the phone that what Klopp is accused of saying isn't what he believes.

Both Klopp's mother and brother say he's been struggling with Schizoaffective Disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bi-polar, for the last eight years. For the last five or so years, Klopp has lived on the streets in Portland. Klopp’s family said he's gone in and out of jail and the hospital. They’ve tried endlessly to get him help, but nothing has worked.

The only thing that has worked is medication. But Klopp’s mother said he always ends up not taking it. Klopp has a criminal history in Multnomah County. It started when he first began living on the streets, in 2012. It’s composed of a laundry list of crimes, such as theft and criminal mischief. Now, it includes intimidation.

Klopp's twin brother and mother said there needs to be a better system to handle people with mental health issues.

Klopp is expected back in court next week. 

© 2017 KGW-TV


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