Portland stabbing suspect built life around hate speech.
Views hardened after several stints in prison
PORTLAND, ORE. | The suspect charged with fatally stabbing two Portland men who tried to stop his anti-Muslim tirade against two teenage girls built a life around hate speech and his right to use it.
Jeremy Joseph Christian, who has spent much of his adulthood behind bars, littered social media with erratic and menacing posts about his hatred of just about everything and everyone. He made death threats against Hillary Clinton and President Trump and ranted when Facebook deleted an antiSemitic update.
“There is no feeling like being muzzled. Cut out your tongue,” he wrote in one post.
After years of spewing anger, prosecutors say, Mr. Christian acted on his fury last week aboard a light-rail train. He’s accused of screaming anti-Muslim insults at the girls, ages 16 and 17, and then slitting the throats of three men who came to their defense. Two of the men died, and a third was seriously wounded.
Mr. Christian continued screaming about free speech in the back of a patrol car, according to court documents. “Get stabbed in your neck if you hate free speech,” he is quoted as saying. “I can die in prison a happy man.”
The 35-year-old has not yet entered a plea, and neither his court-appointed defense attorney nor relatives or acquaintances returned messages from The Associated Press. In a statement, his family apologized and expressed horror at the May 26 killings.
A review of court documents and social media postings paint a picture of a young man who hardened as he spent years in prison. The violence and anger he marshaled against prison guards morphed into a disciplined rage at the world upon his release as he struggled to find a job and a purpose.
After years of disciplinary infractions and selfimposed hunger strikes, Mr. Christian suddenly found himself selling comic books on the street, where he was once mistaken for a homeless person. He grew increasingly angry that people he met didn’t want to talk about his views.
“In my Portland you can have a serious conversation about Politics Spirituality or Philosophy without being interrupted and informed you aren’t being PC,” he wrote shortly after being released from his most recent stint in federal prison. “Where I come from PC people are in Protective Custody where they belong so they don’t get killed.”
Mr. Christian grew up with several older brothers in a modest home in north Portland, obtained his GED and attended some community college. He was a prolific writer both in and out of prison, and he penned a poem at age 18 titled “Prayers for Death.”
His first encounter with the legal system came two years later when he was arrested on felony charges for robbing a corner market.
At the time, he was confused and scared and seemed like a softer person, his former defense attorney, Matt Kaplan, said in a phone interview. He thought his client might be suicidal.
“This is really sad because he didn’t have any of this Nazi, alt-right mentality or anything,” Mr. Kaplan said, describing Mr. Christian as “a good kid from a good neighborhood. His parents were nice, and I had so much hope that he would not turn out this way.”