16-year-old Destinee Mangum — one of the two teenage girls who witnessed a white supremacist kill two people on a Portland train — is speaking out.
In an interview with Fox 12 Oregon, Mangum thanked Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai Meche, who both confronted 35-year-old Jeremy Christian as he was berating Mangum and another girl on the train for their appearance. Christian slit the throats of both Best and Meche after they stood up for the two girls. The two men who Christian killed were strangers to Mangum and the other young passenger.
“I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me, because they didn’t even know me and they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look,” Mangum said, through tears. “I just want to say thank you to them and their family and that I appreciate them because without them, we probably would be dead right now.”
Destinee Mangum, one of the targets of hate speech on a MAX train, thanks strangers for saving her life. pic.twitter.com/sefmOAyIVt
— FOX 12 Oregon KPTV (@fox12oregon) May 28, 2017
Mangum also described the events that preceded the double slaying, from when one of the two men asked her if she was okay, to his confrontation with Christian, to his eventual death.
“This white male from the back of us was like he’s talking to you guys? You guys can’t disrespect these young ladies like that,” Mangum said, adding that the two men started arguing while she and other teenage passenger moved to the back of the train, away from the confrontation.
“Me and my friend were going to get off the MAX and then we turned around while they were fighting and he just started stabbing people and it was just blood everywhere and we just started running for our lives,” she said.
Christian is being held on two counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder, as well as two counts of intimidation (which carries hate crime penalties), and for being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.
Kevin Wallace is a journalist with five years’ experience in print and digital media, and covers politics, media, and culture for the Resistance Report. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.