“Tell everyone on the train I love them.”
Those were the reported last words of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, who died from a stab wound on Friday, May 26, according to a bystander. The recent college grad was one of the victims in a hate-fueled attack on a train in Portland, Oregon, that targeted two young women, one of whom was wearing a headscarf and was Muslim.
Friends and family described Namkai-Meche as having a “huge heart” and “a joyful and magical spirit” ― qualities he appears to have shared with his mother, Asha Deliverance.
Deliverance and hundreds of other Portlanders gathered for a vigil on Saturday to honor the lives of Namkai-Meche and Rick Best, 53, who was also killed in the attack after defending the young women. Micah Fletcher, 21, was also injured in the incident and survived.
During the vigil, Deliverance cried, embraced people in the crowd, and encouraged those gathered to “Give it up for love.”
At one point a woman wearing a white headscarf approached the grieving mother, who warmly leaned forward and embraced her.
“Please encourage all Americans to protect and watch out for one another,” the letter reads in part. “Please condemn any acts of violence, which result directly from hate speech & hate groups. I am praying you will use your leadership to do so.”
Namkai-Meche, Best and Fletcher intervened on Friday when Jeremy Joseph Christian, the accused attacker, reportedly made anti-Muslim comments directed at the two girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab. All three were injured in the altercation, Namkai-Meche and Best fatally so.
Namkai-Meche was a recent college grad who worked at an consulting firm focused on environmental issues. The 23-year-old’s family released a statement on Saturday, urging people to “use this tragedy as an opportunity for reflection and change.”
Best, an Army veteran and a married father of four, worked for the city of Portland and was remembered as a “hero” by his family. “He couldn’t just stand by and do nothing. He died fighting the good fight protecting the innocent,” his eldest son, Erik, told KATU News.
Fletcher, a student at Portland State University, said he’s still “healing” and trying to make sense of what happened. “I got stabbed in the neck on my way to work, randomly, by a stranger I don’t know, for trying to just be a nice person,” he told USA Today.
A LaunchGood fund initiated by two Muslim nonprofit groups had raised more than $500,000 to support the victims families as of Wednesday afternoon.