Ricky John Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Micah Fletcher are American Heros

(CNN)As tears streamed down her cheeks, Destinee Mangum, 16, thanked the three strangers who intervened on a Portland light-rail train after a man hurled anti-Muslim slurs at her and her friend who was wearing a hijab.

Two of the men were killed. One is in the hospital after the suspect, identified as Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, stabbed the three victims, according to police.

“I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me,” Mangum told CNN affiliate KPTV, her voice cracking. “Because they didn’t even know me and they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look.”

The incident on Friday struck a nerve across the United States. Outrage over the deadly assault, messages of support for the victims and expressions of antipathy for the attacker have dominated social media and news coverage.

Online funding pages have emerged for the families of the two slain men, the injured man and the girls who survived the attack.

On Monday, Trump finally weighed in, lauding the victims and deploring the act of violence.
“The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them,” the President tweeted from his @POTUS account.

The attack

Mangum and her friend were riding the MAX light rail Friday afternoon when the suspect allegedly targeted them. He yelled at Mangum, who is not Muslim, and her friend, using what police described as “hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions.”

“He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn’t be here, to get out of his country,” Mangum told KPTV. “He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should just kill ourselves.”

Frightened by his outburst, the pair moved away to the back of the train.

Then a stranger intervened, telling the man that he “can’t disrespect these young ladies like that.”

“Then they just all started arguing,” Mangum said.

By the time the light rail pulled into the next station, Mangum and her friends were ready to leave.

“Me and my friend were going to get off the MAX and then we turned around while they were fighting and he just started stabbing people,” she said.

“It was just blood everywhere and we just started running for our lives.”

Several passengers chased after the suspect and called 911, directing officers to his whereabouts, according to local media.

Mangum, wearing pigtails, held tightly to her mother’s hand as she spoke to a KPTV reporter.

“It’s haunting me,” she said.

Good Samaritans

The men who had intervened were viciously attacked, police said.

These three men stood up to hate in Portland

These three men stood up to hate in Portland

Ricky John Best, 53, of Happy Valley, died at the scene. The military veteran worked as a technician for the city of Portland and had gravitated towards public service.

Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, of Portland, died at the hospital. He had graduated from Portland’s Reed College with a degree in economics last year and had just begun his career working at an environmental consulting agency.

The third victim, Micah Fletcher, 21, is being treated at a hospital with serious injuries. A GoFundMe account to pay for his medical bills showed a picture of him on a hospital bed with a visible neck wound.

Mangum’s mother, Dyjuana Hudson, said she owes everything to the three men and their grieving families.

“I want to say thank you so much,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine what you’re going through right now as far as losing someone.”

‘Their actions were brave; they were selfless’

Portland mayor Ted Wheeler praised the men for standing up to hatred and bigotry.

“It’s very obvious that their actions were brave; they were selfless, and it should serve as an example and inspiration to all of us,” he said in an interview Monday with CNN.

“There’s no question in my mind that these men were heroes,” he added.

Wheeler encouraged people to “stand alongside the memories” of the men and to denounce xenophobia and hate.

“They laid it on all on the line and they paid the ultimate price for standing up to those values which are bedrock to this country,” Wheeler said.

The suspect

Christian was charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder, all felonies. The aggravated murder charge has the death penalty as a possible sentence.

He also was charged with misdemeanors: two counts of second-degree intimidation and a count of being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon, police said.

Jeremy Joseph Christian was charged with aggravated murder and attempted murder.

Christian was being held at the county jail without bail, he will be arraigned on Tuesday in Multnomah County Court.

Police said detectives are looking at Christian’s background, “including the information publicly available about the suspect’s extremist ideology.”

Videos have surfaced showing Christian at various events shouting at people, at one point saying the N-word, as police officers separated him from others.

 

The FBI has joined the Portland police-led investigation to gather evidence.

Authorities are trying to determine whether Christian will be charged with federal hate crimes.

Teen’s family asks for privacy

After granting interviews to a few local media outlets, Hudson and her daughter posted a video on Facebook saying they were thankful to the victims and the community support. They also asked for privacy.

“The best thing you guys can help us out with is just giving me and my family time to process everything and for me to cope with what happened and to actually heal from this and get over this somehow,” Mangum said.

“When the time comes, we will come forward,” her mother said. “But right now it’s all just too much to keep rehashing it over and over again.”

The other woman on the train hasn’t spoken out publicly.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/29/us/portland-train-teenager-stabbing/

First (and maybe the last) successful hate-crime prosecution under 2009 law

First federal hate-crime prosecution against the killer of a transgender person”  and it’s 2017???

The federal hate crime law passed in 2009 under Obama finally had its first case make it through the courts. 

A Mississippi gang member was sentenced Monday to 49 years in prison in the first federal hate-crime prosecution against the killer of a transgender person.

Joshua Vallum, 29, a member of the Latin Kings gang, pleaded guilty to fatally beating and stabbing 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson, whom he had dated. Vallum admitted that he killed Williamson because she was transgender and because he feared reprisal from other members of the gang, which forbids homosexual relationships.

The case marked the first time that federal prosecutors have used the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to charge someone for targeting a transgender victim, according to the Justice Department.

“Today’s sentencing reflects the importance of holding individuals accountable when they commit violent acts against transgender individuals,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “The Justice Department will continue its efforts to vindicate the rights of those individuals who are affected by bias-motivated crimes.”

Vallum was previously sentenced to life in prison for the slaying under state charges in Mississippi, where Vallum stabbed Williamson and beat her with a hammer after driving her into the state from Alabama. Because Mississippi lacks hate crime legislation, Jackson County prosecutors sought the cooperation of federal authorities to see if such charges could be pursued.

The 2009 law, which President Barack Obama signed into law, expanded federal hate crime laws to include acts motivated by the victim’s real or perceived gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability. It is named for Shepard, a 21-year-old gay Wyoming man who was killed in 1998 after being beaten and tied to a fence, and for Byrd, a 49-year-old black man murdered in Texas that same year by white supremacists who dragged him behind their truck and decapitated him.

The sentence comes amid growing concern about violence against transgender people, particularly transgender women. At least 22 transgender people, most of them women of color, were killed in 2016, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights group. It also comes as groups have questioned the Trump administration’s commitment to LGBT rights.

Shortly after his confirmation, Sessions reversed course on Obama-era guidance requiring schools to let transgender students use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities. Sessions also recently let stand a court order blocking an anti-discrimination provision in the Affordable Care Act that applied to transgender people. As a senator, Sessions opposed the Matthew Shepard act, which he said at the time inappropriately singles out a specific group for special protections.

According to the Justice Department, Vallum decided to kill Williamson after learning that a friend had discovered Williamson was transgender. In May 2015, Vallum drove to Williamson’s home in Alabama, lured her into his car, and drove her to his father’s home in Lucedale, Miss. While Williamson sat in the passenger seat, prosecutors said, Vallum used a stun gun to incapacitate Williamson and then stabbed her repeatedly with a 75th Ranger Regiment pocket knife.

Williamson tried to escape, prosecutors said, but Vallum chased her into the woods, where he repeatedly hit her in the head with a hammer.

When the Justice Department announced in December that Vallum had pleaded guilty to hate crime violations, LGBT rights groups lauded the department’s actions.

“The Department of Justice’s leadership on hate crimes prevention is essential for stemming the epidemic of violence facing the transgender community,” the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. “We urge the incoming Trump administration to continue to enforce this important law and to commit to protecting the rights of LGBT Americans facing violence in their communities.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/05/16/gang-member-who-killed-transgender-woman-he-was-dating-is-first-to-be-sentenced-under-federal-hate-crime-law/?utm_term=.899ce27639cd