On a Friday afternoon last year before Memorial Day weekend, 35-year-old Jeremy Christian was riding on a MAX train when witnesses say he yelled racial and religious epithets at two young black women on the train, one of whom was Muslim and wearing a hijab.
When the train stopped at the Hollywood Transit Center in Northeast Portland, three men stepped in to try and calm Christian down. Christian allegedly slashed the throats of all three men. Army veteran and city employee Ricky John Best, 53, and recent Reed College graduate Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, were killed. Portland State University student Micah Fletcher, 21, was wounded but survived.
Christian confessed to the killings, police said. His murder trial is set for 2019.
The attack left Portland residents in shock. The apparent randomness, racially fueled violence and sudden deaths of two people who stood up to hate shook the Portland community. A makeshift memorial overflowing with messages to the victims and assurances of love and acceptance blossomed at the Hollywood Transit Center.
Fundraising campaigns also proliferated, with more than $1.5 million raised for the men who were stabbed and the two girls who were berated.
Some of the money has already been distributed to the victims. But two pots of about $600,000 each that were raised for the three men, in a GoFundMe account and a local Muslim group’s fundraiser, were tied up in a legal battle. A lawyer hired by the Best family argued that the family should get more than an equal share, according to an Oregonian report.
A state of Oregon judge is privately distributing the money from the GoFundMe account. A spokesman for the Muslim group, the Muslim Educational Trust, told the Oregonian it distributed the funds equally between Micah Fletcher and the families of Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche.
The Best family has publicly remained quiet following the attack.
The family of Namkai-Meche spent the past year honoring his legacy by spreading messages of love. His brothers walked the Camino trail in Spain to spread some of his ashes. His mother, Asha Deliverance, also used ashes to create sacred Buddhist statues called Tsatsas.
Deliverance told KGW she is also working on a book “about this profound event that rippled in hearts across the globe.”
Micah Fletcher has taken a leadership role following the stabbing. Fletcher was elected to a neighborhood association board in October. Fletcher, a poet, also continues to speak about the impact of the attack and the difficulties he faces as he works to recover from that day.