Suspect in fatal Portland attack yells about ‘free speech’ at hearing

By Terray Sylvester

PORTLAND, Oregon – (Reuters) – The suspect in a fatal stabbing spree on a Portland, Oregon, commuter train yelled remarks about “free speech” as he entered the courtroom where he was being arraigned on Tuesday on charges of attacking bystanders who intervened when he shouted religious slurs at two women of Muslim appearance.

Suspect Jeremy Joseph Christian, a 35-year-old convicted felon, entered the courtroom yelling “Free speech or die, Portland. You got no safe place. This is America – get out if you don’t like free speech.”

Christian was arraigned in Multnomah County Circuit Court on three felony murder charges, one felony assault charge, three felony weapons charges and two misdemeanor counts of intimidation.

He is charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of two men who intervened when he shouted religious slurs at two women who were the subject of the religious slurs on Friday. A third man who tried to step in was also stabbed but survived.

About a dozen protesters in the hall outside the courtroom erupted into shouting while the charges were read.

As he was escorted out of the courtroom after the arraignment, Christian shouted, “Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedoms. … You call it terrorism. I call it patriotism.”

The surviving victim of the attack, Micah Fletcher, sat in the front row of the gallery during the arraignment, with a long, sutured wound visible on his neck.

If found guilty of the murder charges, Christian could face either life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Friday’s stabbing attack came as some religious rights groups warn of a rising tide of anti-Islamic sentiment in the United States, blaming President Donald Trump for divisive anti-Muslim rhetoric.

One of the two women who was the target of the religious slurs on Friday, Destinee Mangum, who was with a friend wearing a Muslim head scarf, said in a video posted on CNN’s website on Monday that she did not know the men who intervened…

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