The West coast of the United States, in particular the Pacific Northwest, has long been seen as a stronghold of progressive values and as a region characterized by open-mindedness and acceptance.
However, the murders of Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and the brutal wounding of Micah David-Cole Fletcher last Friday proved to the blissfully ignorant that the bigotry and hate that divides America does not have borders.
Asha Deliverance, the mother of slain hero Namkai-Meche, penned an open letter to President Donald Trump, begging him to stand up to violence and intolerance in honor of her son and on behalf of all Americans.
"You have said that you will be President for all Americans. So, I ask you Mr. President to take action at this time. Your words and actions are meaningful, here in America and throughout the world," Deliverance writes in the heartbreaking plea. "Please encourage all Americans to protect and watch out for one another."
Trump was infuriatingly silent for far too long before finally acknowledging the tragedy a full two days after the stabbings. While he has merely called the attacks "unacceptable," others are are working hard to support the victims' families, combat racism and Islamophobia, and ensure that their communities are safe.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler posted on Facebook the details of his plan of action, one of his immediate decisions being to refuse city permits for organizers of two upcoming "alt-right" rallies. It remains unclear whether this act will be purely symbolic, as the federal government controls the permitting for the venue in which the events are planned.
"Our city is in mourning, our community's anger is real, and the timing and subject of these events can only exacerbate an already difficult situation," Wheeler wrote in his Facebook post. "I urge them to ask their supporters to stay away from Portland."
Leadership is an often misunderstood concept that actually has little to do with social and political status; those in power are not necessarily leaders. Trump has shown that while he enjoys the title of president, he does not think much of the massive responsibilities that come with it. He's put more Americans in danger and proven himself as an exploiter of the U.S. rather than its greatest protector.
Leadership takes sacrifice, and some sacrifices are greater than others. It is citizens like Namkai-Meche, Best, and Fletcher who are the true leaders of America, the people who know that standing up for what is right is never easy and can even be dangerous, but that it must be done no matter the cost.