TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club(YJC)-Jurors found Jeremy Christian, 37, guilty of the deaths of Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best. He also was convicted of attempted murder for stabbing survivor Micah Fletcher and assault and menacing for shouting slurs and throwing a bottle at a black woman on another light rail train the day before the May 26, 2017, stabbings.
A judge last year dismissed charges of aggravated murder — which carries a potential death sentence — because of a new Oregon law that narrows the definition of aggravated murder.
The stabbings’ racial undertones shook Portland, which prides itself on its liberal and progressive reputation but also grapples with a racist past that included limits on where black families could live and a neo-Nazi community so entrenched that the city was once nicknamed “Skinhead City.” The deaths also came weeks after a black teen was run down and killed by a white supremacist in a Portland suburb convenience store parking lot — a case that also grabbed headlines.
In the days after the stabbing, photos and video surfaced showing that Christian had recently attended — and spoken at — a rally hosted by a far-right group called Patriot Prayer, whose periodic political events were already causing tension in the city. He was captured on camera making the Nazi salute while wearing an American flag around his neck and holding a baseball bat.
On Facebook, his prolific posts slammed Portland as a place so politically correct that his right to free speech was constantly under assault. Those beliefs were front and center in the courtroom, too, when Christian told the judge on the first day of trial that he would wear his jail-issued blue uniform instead of a suit because to do otherwise would be like lying.
“I don’t care how much time I spend in prison,” he said. “All I care about is the public gets to see and hear what happened on the train.”
According to prosecutors, Christian boarded the train during the evening commute on May 26, 2017, and began shouting racist, anti-Muslim and xenophobic slurs at the two young black women. One was an immigrant from Somalia and wore a Muslim headscarf. Some witnesses said Christian in his outburst made a slicing motion across his neck and mentioned decapitating people.