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Taliesin Myrddin and Ricky John Best were riding a Portland MAX train when they saw another man allegedly hurtle racial slurs at two Muslim girls. They both intervened and paid for it with their lives.
To lay one’s life down for another is the greatest sacrifice, and Myrddin, 23, and Best, 53, were lauded as heroic Good Samaritans who set an example countering hate for the rest of society.
They died while trying to stop Jeremy Christian, an alleged white supremacist who was accused of using racial slurs toward the Muslim teens on the train. When the men tried to calm Christian down, he’s accused of stabbing them, killing Myrddin and Best, a military veteran.
Myrddin is also known as Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche.
A third Good Samaritan, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was wounded. The positive lives of the victims paint a stark contrast to the suspect’s alleged hate-filled past.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Myrddin’s Mother Called Him a ‘Shining Bright Star’ & Hero
Myrddin’s mother identified her son as one of the victims. In a heart-wrenching post, she wrote, “Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, My dear baby boy passed on yesterday while protecting two young Muslim girls from a racist man on the train in Portland. He was a hero and will remain a hero on the other side of the veil. Shining bright star I love you forever.”
A friend responded on the comment thread, “I can’t begin to imagine how it must feel to raise a child to be the best man he can be…. and then lose him while he is being the best man he can be. Except that he is not lost, and this is not the end of his story. Holding you, your son, and all who love him in the Light.”
KATU News interviewed Myrddin’s aunt, who told them she was on the phone with Taliesin when the attack occurred.
“Taliesin gave his life to protect two teenage girls who were being abused,” she told the television station. “I was on the phone when it happened and I heard the hate speech from a white supremacist. I told him to get off the phone with me and videotape what was happening so he could send it to police.”
2. Ricky John Best Was an Army Veteran & City of Portland Employee
Ricky John Best also took a stand and was killed for doing it.
According to Oregon Live, Ricky John Best “was a city of Portland employee, Army veteran and onetime candidate for Clackamas County commissioner.”
The newspaper reported that Best “worked as a technician for the city Bureau of Development Services.” He had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and left behind a wife and four children in their teens and age 12, according to Oregon Live.
“Best retired from the Army as a platoon sergeant for Corps maintenance in 2012 after 23 years in the military,” the newspaper reported.
3. Taliesin’s Professors Recalled Him as Humble & Inquisitive
Myrddin had a bright future ahead of him.
His Facebook page says he worked at The Cadmus Group, studied Economics at Reed College, went to Stevenson School, and went to Ashland High School.
The Cadmus Group’s website says it is an organization “committed to delivering cross-disciplinary services and solutions that help our clients achieve their goals and, in doing so, create social and economic value and improve people’s lives.”
Reed College released a statement after Myrddin’s death that praised his intellect and character.
“Taliesin majored in Economics at Reed. We have heard from many community members this morning who are sharing their grief and memories of this beloved young man,” the college said.
“Professor Kambiz Ghanea Bassiri described Taliesin as an extraordinary person,” said Reed College’s statement.
“I still remember where he sat in conference and the types of probing, intelligent questions I could anticipate him asking. He was thoughtful, humble, smart, inquisitive, and compassionate. He was a wonderful human being. As good as they come. And now he is a hero to me,” the professor said in the statement released by the college.
Noelwah R. Netusil, Professor of Economics, was Taliesin’s thesis advisor, and described Taliesin as “a very caring person, smart, hardworking, and with such a bright future,” the statement said.
4. The Suspect Is an Alleged White Supremacist
According to KGW, “the three victims were stabbed in the neck after they tried to calm down a man who was yelling hate speech on the MAX train and at one point directed the speech at two women who are believed to be Muslim.”
There is quite a contrast between the victims and suspect. According to The Portland Mercury, Christian allegedly “is a known right wing extremist and white supremacist. On April 29, Christian showed up to the right-wing ‘March for Free Speech’ on 82nd Avenue in Montavilla with a baseball bat in an attempt to assault left-wing protesters. The bat was quickly confiscated by Portland police officers. He ranted how he was a nihilist. He’d soon yelled racial slurs (“f*ck all you n*****s”) and gave the Nazi salute throughout the day. He yelled ‘Hail Vinland’ throughout the day.”
On the train, Christian is accused of “yelling various remarks that would be best characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions,” the newspaper reported.
5. The Victims Are Being Lauded as Heroes for Standing Up for the Girls
Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, joined many others in calling Myrddin and the others heroes who have set an example for society.
“Two men lost their lives and another was injured for doing the right thing, standing up for people they didn’t know against hatred. Their actions were brave and selfless, and should serve as an example and inspiration to us all. They are heroes,” Wheeler said, according to KGW.
A community veteran is planned to honor the men.