“You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism,” shouted Jeremy Christian, who is accused of fatally slashing the throats of two men who defended a Muslim teenager and her black teenage friend on a Portland, Oregon, train.
Christian, a 35-year-old known locally as a white supremacist, has been charged with the aggravated murder of 53-year-old Army veteran, Ricky John Best, and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, a recent college graduate.
Accused trimet killer outburst in court. pic.twitter.com/oH34MIIFz8
— Pat Dooris (@PatDooris) May 30, 2017
As deputies led him into the courtroom, the suspect began to rant about patriotism, free speech, and the enemies of America in his first court appearance on Tuesday.
“Free speech or die,” he shouted. “This is America, get out if you don’t like free speech.”
“You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism,” he continued.
He then began calling for death to the “enemies of America,” including anti-fascists.
According to Buzzfeed:
Several men who appeared to be antifa protesters stood outside the hearing, and as a friend of Christian’s from prison arrived, they chased him away.
The friend, who identified himself as Jamie, said he had known Christian for 15 years and they were both homeless.
“If I went and got in some shit I’d want someone to stand by me,” he said outside the courthouse.
He denied being a neo-Nazi, but he added, “I’ve fought and bled for my race.”
Several Portlanders chased a friend of Jeremy Christian away from Christian’s arraignment, calling him a Nazi. pic.twitter.com/06TO2HyKFG
— Blake Montgomery (@blakersdozen) May 30, 2017
Micah Fletcher, who also came to the rescue of the two teenage victims, was also slashed in the throat by Christian when he tried to intervene in Friday’s attack.
Fletcher’s stitches and bruising were still visible on his neck, according to Buzzfeed.
The 21-year-old poet released a statement on Tuesday, which read in part: “I want the Muslim community to know that they have a home here in Portland and are loved. I want to honor the families who lost their brave fathers, sons and brothers, and I want the media and the country to honor those families. I want to send my condolences and honor those families.”
New PC affidavit filed in Jeremy Christian case pic.twitter.com/GeTqstDAot
— Maxine Bernstein (@maxoregonian) May 30, 2017
Christian was arraigned on several charges, including two counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder, two counts of second-degree intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon, police say. The aggravated murder charges carry a maximum penalty of death.
His next court appearance will be June 7.
Buzzfeed also added additional details of the attack thanks to an affidavit obtained by the Oregonian on Tuesday:
According to the affidavit, Christian entered the train at 4:19 p.m. Friday. Two black teenagers, one of whom was wearing a hijab, were already on the train and he began shouting at them.
“Get the fuck out!” Christian said, according to the affidavit. “Pay taxes!”
“I don’t care if you are ISIS,” the affidavit continued. “Fuck Saudi Arabia.”
All the while, he was drinking sangria wine from a plastic container, the affidavit said. One man intervened and tried to verbally de-escalate the situation, the affidavit said. But Christian continued shouting, including a statement about “decapitating heads,” the man later told police.
In video described by the affidavit, Christian made a sudden movement toward Namkai-Meche, adding, “Do something, bitch.” Fletcher stood up next to Namkai-Meche, and Christian shoved him in the chest, the affidavit stated. Fletcher shoved back and told him to get off the train, the affidavit added.
Christian then began stabbing at the man with a knife that had been concealed in his hand, according to the affidavit. When Best moved forward to intervene, he too was stabbed.
Christian allegedly threatened other passengers as he got off the train.