Portlanders Arrive By the Thousands for Vigil to Celebrate Men Who Gave Their Lives on MAX Train

Senator Jeff Merkley and many others memorialize the men killed Friday.

Portlanders showed up in the thousands Saturday evening at a vigil for the two men killed on a MAX train in Northeast Portland Friday afternoon.

"I had to park eight blocks away," said John Gartner, a TriMet worker who came with crates of plastic water bottles to hand out to the large crowd.

Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namakai-Meche, 23, were killed Friday afternoon. The suspect is Jeremy Joseph Christian, a white supremacist who was allegedly harrassing two Muslim women.

On Saturday evening at 6:30, a crowd gathered in the grassy knoll in front of the Hollywood MAX station near were the train on which the men were slain stopped Friday. Flowers, candles and handwritten signs and notes were placed by a utility pole adjacent to the crowd.

"We stand with immigrants. We stand with African Americans, with our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters," Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-Ore.) told the crowd.

Merkley alluded to now-President Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric and the emboldening effect it has had on some people.

"A message of hate leads to violence," he said, "and violence leads to tragedy."

"Bless your sons for standing up for justice," added, addressing the families of the men who died yesterday.

Mayor Ted Wheeler also attended the vigil, although he turned away from the microphone when attendees began jeering him. Wheeler stayed around, speaking to members of the crowd. Wheeler's spokesman, Michael Cox, says the mayor later addressed the Muslim Educational Trust.

Audience members held signs reading "Solidarity" and "Trump is a Nazi." Another sign, held by Karen Hixon, a licensed profession counselor read, "Mental Health Providers Unite." Hixon said, "I'm upset that a white supremacist walked away from murder when a person of color would have been murdered with impunity."

"We have to keep pushing and doing things like this," she added of the vigil.

A cadre of police officers lined the perimeter of the crowd. Lt. Rob Wurpes, a TriMet transit police officer, was one of many officers on duty. "It's impressive that those guys stepped up. It would have been easy to sit back," Wurpes said of the men who died. "It's a tragedy and I hope it doesn't make people afraid to do what's right."

Representatives from the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon came with two large boxes full of posters expressing solidarity for Muslim community members. Those posters, a fundraiser for the Muslim Education Trust, sold out rapidly.

For two hours, a series of speakers, including City Commissioner Amanda Fritz and a representative of  U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) took the microphone and exhorted Portlanders to stand united against domestic terrorists.

A couple of speakers also urged the crowd to show up June 4 when white supremacists plan to rally at Terry Schrunk Plaza downtown.

Related: White supremacists are brawling with masked leftists in Portland streets.

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