A Befitting Tribute to the Heroes of Portland
By Tahir Ali
Portland-Oregon: The Muslim Educational Trust (MET) in Tigard Oregon organized an Interfaith Memorial Service and paid a befitting tribute to the Portland Heroes: Rick John Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Micah David-Cole Fletcher. All three stood against bigotry when a racist heaped verbal abuse on two young women, an Afro-American and a Muslim wearing a hijab.
Tragically Rick and Taliesin got fatally stabbed, while Fletcher survived the wounds.
Besides contributing to the funds for the heroes, the Muslims of Central Massachusetts and the Islamic Centers in Worcester (ISGW and WIC) decided to honor the heroes by awarding them with plaques. All three plaques were placed on the center stage, and after the award ceremony, were seen in the hands of Fletcher and Asha Deliverance, the mother of Taliesin.
I participated via live streaming and the Muslim Education Trust's (MET) president Wajdi Said was kind enough to connect me with Micah Fletcher. I asked Fletcher how he felt on the day. "Awesome and honored," was his spontaneous answer. He thanked us for the award and said, "We have to protect each other like that. (It) is the truth, regardless of the consequences. The Muslim Community needs to understand that there are a lot of us that are not going to stand by and let anybody carry out aggression."
Members of the Church, Synagogues and other faith groups joined in the prayers. US Senator of Oregon, Jeff Merkley, offered kind wishes and a few words of comfort. Major media networks were there to cover the event (one such report from KGW /TV is appended below):
Acknowledgement to Wajdi Said and Rania Ayoub of MET for photos and access.
"TIGARD Ore. -- People of all faiths and from all backgrounds gathered to honor and remember the two men killed on the MAX more than a week ago by a man spewing racist and anti-Muslim rants.
“It was a touching moment outside the Muslim Educational Trust Community Center on Sunday night. Survivor Micah Fletcher met victim Taliesin Namkai-Meche's mother for the first time. They embraced in an emotional hug.
"I just wanted him to know that he's loved and he needed arms to break down in, to cry in, that understands love," said Asha Deliverance, Namkai-Meche's mother.
Namkai-Meche, Rick Best, and Fletcher were stabbed standing up for two girls. Police said a man was on the MAX, shouting what could be considered hate speech. Both Namkai-Meche and Rick Best died.
Many people in the community and at the memorial are calling the three men heroes.
"Thank you again family, thank you forever," said one speaker.
Both Namkai-Meche's family and Fletcher were presented with awards. Rick Best's family was also recognized.
"Let us extend hands. Let us build bridges of understanding," said Wajdi Said, the President of the Muslim Educational Trust.
Namkai-Meche's mother said even when he went to school at Reed College, all his teachers said he always stood up for the underdog.
"We're proud of Taliesin and we're grateful to Taliesin," said his mother, Asha.
“All the people attending the memorial were grateful too. They were also thankful for the three men who decided to stand up, when they didn't have to.
“If donations from all the crowdfunding accounts are added up, the balance is well over a million dollars."