Port­land stab­bing sus­pect shouts ‘you’ve got no safe place!’ in court

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - NATION -

PORT­LAND, Ore. — Un­ease about white su­prem­a­cist ac­tiv­ity in Port­land deep­ened af­ter the fa­tal stab­bings of two men who tried to shield two young women from an anti-Mus­lim tirade, and some peo­ple worry the fa­mously tol­er­ant com­mu­nity could see a resur­gence of the hos­til­i­ties that once earned it the nick­name “Sk­in­head City.”

The at­tack aboard a light-rail train hap­pened Friday, the first day of Ra­madan, the holi­est time of the year for Mus­lims. Authorities said Jeremy Joseph Chris­tian started ver­bally abus­ing two young women, in­clud­ing one wear­ing a hi­jab. When three men on the train in­ter­vened, police said, Chris­tian at­tacked them, killing two and wound­ing one.

Chris­tian, 35, was defiant dur­ing his brief ini­tial court ap­pear­ance Tues­day, shout­ing: “You call it ter­ror­ism I call it pa­tri­o­tism!”

He made re­peated out­bursts, say­ing “You’ve got no safe place!” and “Death to the en­e­mies of Amer­ica!”

Chris­tian, who faces ag­gra­vated mur­der and other charges, didn’t en­ter a plea. His next court date is June 7. He has been ap­pointed pub­lic de­fend­ers. In a state­ment, Lane Borg, the head of the lo­cal pub­lic de­fender agency, said the of­fice was “sad­dened by this tragedy” but urged peo­ple to let the jus­tice sys­tem take its course.

The deaths stunned the city, but also un­der­scored ner­vous­ness about re­cent events, in­clud­ing a se­ries of ap­par­ent hate crimes in the re­gion and con­tentious pub­lic rallies that have drawn national at­ten­tion.

The Pa­cific North­west has a long and vi­o­lent his­tory of white su­prem­a­cist and other racist ac­tiv­i­ties, de­spite its more re­cent rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing one of the na­tion’s most so­cially lib­eral re­gions.

“The idea that Port­land is so lib­eral su­per­sedes this dark, hid­den se­cret about racism,” said Karen Gib­son, a pro­fes­sor of ur­ban stud­ies at Port­land State Univer­sity.

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