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Neighbor's protest against Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational highlights Portland teen's death

Ricky Freeman lives across the street from Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. His demonstration amplified criminal investigations with ties to the Saudi Arabian government.

NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — In North Plains, Ricky Freeman used his front yard to send a message to those attending the LIV Golf Invitational. The Saudi-backed event wrapped up its three-day run at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club on Sunday, right across from Freeman’s home. 

Using a sound system, Freeman amplified news clips documenting stories of human rights violations and death investigations involving connections to the Saudi government.

“We're not against the Saudi people, we're against what the Saudi government's done and continues to keep doing, to have horrific human rights violations,” said Freeman. “Those stories are not just gonna die and their voices don't go away.”

In 2018, U.S. Intelligence officials found Saudi Arabia's crown prince approved the operation that led to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

There's also the death of Portland teen Fallon Smart. In 2016, police said the 15-year-old Franklin High School student was struck and killed while crossing Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard at 42nd Avenue in a hit-and-run. 

RELATED: Sept. 11 families protest 'sportswashing' as Saudi-backed LIV Golf tournament starts in Oregon

Police later arrested Saudi national Abdulahman Sameer Noorah, 21, for the crime. Two weeks before his trial, investigators said Noorah, who was out on bail, removed his tracking device. They believe the Saudi government then flew him out of the country, helping him escape prosecution.

“We wanted to be able to give a voice to people like Fallon Smart that weren't able to be here themselves today,” said Freeman.

Smart’s grandmother heard about Freeman's demonstration. She visited him on Sunday to thank him and offer her own request to the Saudi government.

“Please send all the Saudi Nationals who are suspects of violent crimes back to the United States,” said Cynthia Trippett while clutching a photograph of her granddaughter. “Golf means nothing to me. Safety, truth and justice are the foundations of American society, not golf.”

It's unclear if Trippett’s words will ever reach the Saudi government, but Freeman said their demonstration on Sunday clearly reached people driving past his property.

“You get a lot of people waving at you with just one finger instead of all of them, and there's a couple people who wave at you with two [fingers],” said Freeman, fashioning his thumb and index finger into a gun. "But you know, we don't get intimidated from that.”

RELATED: Sen. Ron Wyden urges Pumpkin Ridge golfers to consider Saudi government human rights abuses

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