President Donald Trump has condemned the killing in Oregon of two men who tried to stop another man from using anti-Muslim speech against two teenaged girls. A third man was injured in the violence.
Trump tweeted a statement saying:
“The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our Prayers are w/ them.”
On Friday, a man in the American city of Portland, Oregon, apparently shouted anti-Muslim words at two teenaged girls on a train. He then stabbed two people who tried to defend them.
Those killed were Ricky John Best, aged 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, aged 23. The two died from their wounds. A third person, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.
Portland Police said one of the two young women on the train was wearing a hijab, head covering. The suspect, identified as 35 year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian, shouted at them using, in their words, “hateful speech.”
One of the young women involved, 16-year-old Destinee Mangum, told Portland’s KPTV television station: "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 thanked those who came to her and her friend’s defense. “Without them, we probably would be dead right now," she said.
The community’s response
Local and state officials, denounced the incident saying attacks of this kind have no place in their communities or the United States.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said, "Two men lost their lives standing up to somebody spewing hateful words directed at Muslim passengers on an afternoon commuter train."
He continued saying, "Our current political climate allows far too much room for those who spread bigotry. Violent words can lead to violent acts. All elected leaders in America, all people of good conscience, must work deliberately to change our political dialogue."
Oregon Governor Kate Brown said she was "heartbroken" by the attack.
"Safety while traveling through our community is a basic human right that we need to be able to guarantee to everyone, regardless of where they're from, or what they believe," she said.
Jeff Merkley, a U.S. Senator representing Oregon, denounced the incident on Twitter.
“We all stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters who've had to face discrimination and fear. This hatred is unacceptable and un-American.”
Police are investigating the suspect Christian. They said he appears to have posted extremist ideas on social media.
Thousands of people have given money to an online fundraising effort for the victims and their families. As of Monday, the amount donated reached about $800,000.
Minnesota representative Keith Ellison is the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress. He praised those killed in a statement.
"They saw injustice being committed, racism being practiced, and they intervened," said Ellison. He said they showed, “the best qualities of American heroes. And they were killed for it."
Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi said that the attack showed an increase in hate-crimes against religious and ethnic groups during the past year.
I’m Phil Dierking
This story was originally written for VOA News. Phil Dierking adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
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Words in This Story
bigotry - n. act that are strongly and unfairly against other people, ideas, etc.
conscience - n. the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being either morally right or wrong
dialogue - n. discussion or series of discussions that two groups or countries have in order to end a disagreement
extremism - n. belief in and support for ideas that are very far from what most people consider correct or reasonable
hijab - n. head covering worn in public by some Muslim women.
ideology - n. the set of ideas and beliefs of a group or political party
spew - v. to flow out of something in a fast and forceful way