Portland Heroes:— Kelli Russell Agodon (@KelliAgodon) May 27, 2017
Ricky John Best
Taelisin Myrddin Namkai Meche
Micah David-Cole Fletcher (wounded in hospital)
Thank you. pic.twitter.com/iL6Pj5aMc0
People across the United States are paying tribute to heroic men who were fatally stabbed on a commuter train in Portland, Oregon, after they tried to stop a racist man from hurling abuse at two young women presumed to be Muslim.
The horror unfolded on board a MAX light-rail train as it pulled into the Hollywood Transit Center. Accused assailant Jeremy Christian, a 35-year-old white supremacist, fled the scene after he allegedly attacked the men. However, he was later arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of second-degree intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.
Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, were killed in the brutal incident while Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, is being treated for serious injuries and is expected to survive.
Friends, family and the community now remember the brave souls who taught us that staring terror right in the eye is the greatest act of bravery.
Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23
Namkai-Meche graduated from Reed College last year with a degree in economics and was working as an intern at a consulting firm, Cadmus Company.
His mother Asha Deliverance confirmed his death in heartrending Facebook post that has since gone viral.
"He was a hero and will remain a hero on the other side of the veil," she wrote. "Shining bright star, I love you forever."
People who knew him remember him as someone who took joy in the little things in life.
Talking to BuzzFeed News, his sister Vajra Alaya-Maitreya said his "enthusiasm was infectious."
The 23-year-old understood the worth and dignity of each human life, according to his sister, who recalled "he was resolute in his conduct and respect of all people."
"He will live in our hearts forever as the just, brave, loving, hilarious, and beautiful soul he was," she said. "We ask that in honor of his memory, we use this tragedy as an opportunity for reflection and change. We choose love. Safe journey, Taliesin. We love you."
His loved ones did indeed choose love.
Remembering Namkai-Meche, his girlfriend said, "I will follow you on your journey through the sun and the moon and the stars. I will love you eternally."
Ricky John Best, 53
Ricky Best was the father of three teenage boys and a 12-year-old girl.
He was returning home to his children when he heard an enraged white supremacist yelling at two young women to get out of his country.
Best could not "stand by and do nothing." He was not one to sheepishly look away while others were attacked.
The 53-year-old served in the military for 23 years, retiring in 2012. In 2014, he unsuccessfully ran for Clackamass County Commissioner. Citing his reason for the bid, Best said he could not "stand by and do nothing," and was thus getting more involved with the community.
At the time of his death, he was employed as supervisor in Portland's Bureau of Development Services.
Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21
Please pray for Micah David-Cole Fletcher who was brutally assaulted yesterday in Portland while defending a Muslim woman. pic.twitter.com/ofFkkpaSv9— Suhaib Webb (@ImamSuhaibWebb) May 28, 2017
Friends of 21-year-old Fletcher, even as they struggled to accept the devastating reality, were not surprised that he put himself in harm's way to defend something he believed in.
"I was shocked it was him, but I wasn't surprised it was him," Elie Hoover, 24, said. "I can't see him not standing up."
This was not the first time Fletcher had rallied against injustice. He is described as deeply empathetic, with an interest in music and poetry.
Friend Mandela Cordeta, 26, who knew Fletcher for 10 years, recalled if there was any march or protest happening, Fletcher would always show up.
"He's just against injustice, that's his personality," Cordeta added.
Many members of the Muslim community have also started to collect funds to help the families of these heroes cope with this immense pain and in their lives ahead.
“Their actions were brave and selfless and should serve as an example, an inspiration to us all,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.
As several social media users pointed out, it's extremely distressing how the worst of humanity took away the best of humanity.
Christian’s social media page gives a horrifying glimpse into his mind, as it mentions "Jihadi Muslims" among people he disliked and includes images of Christian raising his right hand in a Nazi-like salute at a "Free Speech" protest in Portland last month.
"If Donald Trump is the Next Hitler then I am joining his SS to put an end to Monotheist Question," he reportedly wrote in rambling post earlier this month.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters