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