The trial of Jeremy Christian is over. But what it revealed of the damage he wreaked on Portland will be difficult to forget.
On Feb. 21, a jury unanimously found Christian guilty of the murders of Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, and the stabbing of Micah Fletcher on a rush-hour MAX train May 26, 2017.
He was also found guilty of intimidating black teenagers Walia Mohamed and Destinee Mangum, and of intimidating and assaulting Demetria Hester by throwing a 32-ounce Gatorade bottle in her face on another train the night prior to the fatal stabbings.
It took jurors just 12 hours to reach a verdict. In the four weeks prior, they had seen videos of the same deadly stabbings from various vantage points on the train. They heard from victims, witnesses, and a self-employed use-of-force expert from Idaho.
And they sat next to Fletcher as he wept, recalling the moments after the stabbing when a fellow passenger held a cellphone to his face so he could tell his mother he loved her: "In my mind, at least at that point, that was a given: 'I'm going to die.'"
Those are indelible moments—now a part of the trauma Portland will have to process. This city will also have to reckon with what Christian says about us: Was he a manifestation of latent racism in the city fabric? Or were the people who tried to stop him, and tended to the dying, a more accurate representation of who Oregonians are?
In the days after the verdict, WW asked Portland's elected officials, candidates for office and other observers, what moment from the trial they would remember. Here is a selection of their replies.
Teressa Raiford, candidate for Portland mayor
"The testimonies of the people of color during the trial. I think people in our community need to support people who look like me, and especially children."
Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal
"The moment when Walia Mohamed recounted what Christian had yelled at her and Destinee Mangum. The tears that rolled down her face as she relived those words—'Go back to Saudi Arabia' and 'Kill yourselves.' Directed at a 17-year-old girl. So indescribably brutal. And so reflective of a national mood of hatred, violence and white supremacy."
Mike Schmidt, candidate for Multnomah County district attorney
"The emotional response after the jury gave their verdicts. Gasps, tears and a sense of relief."
Ethan Knight, candidate for Multnomah County district attorney
"The testimony of victim Walia Mohamed was extraordinarily compelling—it underscored the trauma caused by Christian's cowardly and hateful attack."
Gabriela Saldaña-López, Bus Riders Unite organizer at OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
"We'll never forget that Walia Mohamed, the young woman wearing a headscarf that day, testified that after the attack, she stopped wearing hijab. Bus riders must stand up for what is right to win a safer transit system."
Zakir Khan, board chair of Oregon's Council on American-Islamic Relations
"The most poignant moment of the trial for me was witnessing Demetria Hester speak her truth. I found her courage to be remarkable despite everything that she endured. I hope reflecting upon her testimony will help us all to listen and believe victims of hate and bias."
Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann
"There was an early point in the trial when Demetria Hester asked the court not to postpone proceedings. Christian's outburst, his claims to be the victim himself, and subsequent attacks while being removed from the courtroom stood out to me as a stark reminder of the most violent expressions of racism and white supremacy in our society. Demetria's strength to continue her statement is equally as strong a memory for me."
Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty
"I'll remember that Demetria got her day in court as well."