Portland, Or., is touted as a progressive playground and haven for liberal politics, but the the city has turned into a battlefield, where black-clad anarchists and leftist demonstrators collide in the streets with far-right activists, white nationalists and supporters of President Trump, reports the Washington Post. Over Memorial Day weekend, Portland became a scene of murderous hate linked to that clash. A 35-year-old man known to yell racial slurs and to mimic Nazi salutes allegedly harassed two teen girls, one wearing a hijab, on a light-rail train. He then allegedly used a knife to slash three men who came to their aid, killing two of them. The slayings of Rick Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23 — whom many hailed as heroes for standing up to the hatred they witnessed — stunned Portlanders.
While the city has seen months of demonstrations, with protesters attempting to shut down freeways and bridges, citizens clashing with riot police, the use of rubber bullets and flash grenades, and dozens of arrests, the killings appeared to be something very different. “There’s an uneasy feeling,” said Peter Simpson, a police spokesman. “It’s something we really haven’t seen here.” Mayor Ted Wheeler called for federal officials to revoke permits for a planned right-wing rally during the city’s Rose Festival because of the expectation that it will turn violent. The Oregon American Civil Liberties Union slammed the decision, saying it amounts to government limiting speech it does not want to hear. Jeremy Joseph Christian, accused in the killings, appeared yesterday at an arraignment. As he entered the courtroom, he yelled: “Free speech or die! . . . This is America! Get out if you don’t like it!” As he was escorted out, he shouted: “You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism!”