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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Mother of Portland stabbing victim urges Trump to condemn violence and hate

Tributes left for the victims in Portland, Oregon (Gillian Flaccus/AP)
Tributes left for the victims in Portland, Oregon (Gillian Flaccus/AP)

The mother of one of two men fatally stabbed last week on a train while trying to protect young women from anti-Muslim abuse has urged US President Donald Trump to encourage all Americans to protect one another.

In a letter, the mother of 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche asked Mr Trump to "condemn any acts of violence, which result directly from hate speech and hate groups".

Asha Deliverance said doing so "would deeply honour Taliesin's sacrifice, which has been amplified by the millions of voices who have supported our family in response to this tragedy".

Ms Deliverance did not address Mr Trump's condemnation of the attacks on Monday, when he tweeted: "The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them."

Suspect Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, was due to appear in court to face two counts of felony aggravated murder and other charges.

The stabbings happened on Friday after police said Christian verbally abused the two young women, including one wearing a hijab. Mr Namkai-Meche and another man were killed after they intervened. A third man who also intervened and was wounded has left hospital.

The attacker shouted foul language and ranted against Muslims just after he boarded the train last Friday, passenger Rachel Macy told The Oregonian.

Rick Best, the other victim, stood closest to the man and tried to calm him down.

Ms Macy said she saw that Mr Namkai-Meche was holding up his phone, but she did not know if he was recording the confrontation. Suddenly, she said, Christian hit the phone away and stabbed Mr Namkai-Meche in the neck.

She said Mr Namkai-Meche said "Tell everyone on this train I love them" as paramedics prepared to take him away.

Mr Namkai-Meche's mother wrote that her son and Mr Best witnessed injustice when they saw the two passengers being harassed and did not hesitate to confront the bully.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler urged organisers of a Trump Free Speech Rally scheduled for Sunday in a park to cancel it, saying the event was inappropriate after the stabbings and speculating that it could turn violent.

Mr Wheeler said he would deny any applications by organisers to apply for a permit, though it was not clear whether they had sought city permission, which would be needed if the protesters want to march on streets around the park.

Prohibiting a rally based on the political views of demonstrators would be unconstitutional even though "our hearts are broken" following the stabbings, said Mat Dos Santos, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.

The rally's organiser Joey Gibson told KGW he is a libertarian promoting free speech. He said organisers already have a permit for the rally from federal authorities who control the city centre park.

A Facebook page promoting the event with speakers and live music said it will feature Kyle Chapman, who describes himself as an American nationalist and Trump supporter. He was arrested at a March 4 protest in Berkeley, California.

Mr Wheeler's call for the rally to be cancelled came amid a wider debate in the US about the First Amendment, often in liberal cities like Portland and Berkeley and on college campuses, where violent protests between far-right and far-left protesters have derailed appearances by contentious figures.

AP

Press Association

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