Exactly one year after the MAX stabbing attack, the community gathered to honor the victims and commemorate the outpour of community support that followed the attack.
A few hundred people attended the "Commemoration of Heroism and Community" ceremony at the Hollywood Transit Center on Saturday. The event was hosted by TriMet, the Hollywood Neighborhood Association and the area’s business association.
The event comes a year after Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche of Portland and Ricky Best of Happy Valley were killed when Portland resident Jeremy Christian allegedly targeted two teen girls on the MAX with racist and anti-Muslim comments. A third man, Portland resident Micah Fletcher, was wounded but survived.
Christian, 36, faces charges of aggravated murder and attempted murder in the attack. His trial is scheduled to start in June 2019.
The event struck close to home for one attendee, Beaverton resident Seemab Hussaini. As a Muslim, he said, the attack emboldened him to get into activism and civil liberties protections for other Muslims in the community. It was because of the attack that he helped to found the Council on American-Islamic Relations chapter in Oregon.
"I see a lot of hope and a lot of optimism in our future, in Portland and in Oregon," Hussaini said.
Several religious figures spoke at the ceremony honoring the victims, including Rabbi Debra Kolodny and the Rev. Rick Paperini. Both Kolodny and Paperini commended residents for coming together and advocated for acceptance and change.
"It’s our obligation to fight like hell for the living," Kolodny declared, eliciting cheers and applause from attendees.
Sarah Farahat, the lead artist in charge of the mural dedicated to the victims, stressed the importance of raising up the perspectives of those who are underrepresented in her speech.
"Much suffering has brought us here and it didn’t just start last year," she said.
At 4:30 p.m., the time the attack occurred, family members of the victims rang a bell from the Buddhist Diahonzan Henjyoji Temple in remembrance.
Asha Severence led the procession, ringing the bell in honor of her son, Namkai-Meche. Erik Best followed, ringing in honor of his father. Then it was Margie Fletcher for her son. Dyjuana Hudson concluded, ringing once in honor of her daughter Destinee Mangum and Walio Mohamed, the two teen girls targeted.
As the bells tolled, a number of the attendees wept. Others hugged and leaned into each other for support.
When the ceremony concluded, people flooded to the mural to leave flowers, zig zagging up the walkway as flowers filled up available space on ledges and were threaded through railings.
Hudson, who has spoken sparingly to the media, was very happy with the outcome of the event and the number of people who turned up in support.
"I think it was beautiful," Hudson said. "I’m just excited to finally get the girls back to where it happened and get their emotions out."
— Corlyn Voorhees