May 26, 2017, according to multiple reports Jeremy Christian boarded the MAX light-rail train in Portland Oregon and promptly begins harassing two sixteen-year-old girls. Witnesses say he yelled racial slurs and anti-Muslim threats at length before three gentlemen stepped forward to try and put a stop to the abuse of the minors. Mr. Christian then made national news when he pulled out a knife and attacked all three of them, slitting their throats. Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, both died as a result of their wounds. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was taken to a hospital and survived.
These are the easily confirmable details, and the ones that most of the nation now knows regarding this event. However, it was in the following days that an entirely new angle began to emerge, one that would bring to Heathen community back under the public eye once again. Christian was a known white supremacist in the area, and recent Facebook posts, as well as videos of him at a recent ‘Free Speech Rally’, showed him repeatedly praising Hitler, giving the Third Reich salute, and shouting “Hail Vinland”. Further investigations in the following days turned up still more evidence, as poetry about the Norse gods, oaths to Óðinn and various other references to his Norse/Pagan beliefs were found. While many Heathens denied early assertions in the media that Christian was a member of our religious community, in the week that followed it became clear that these early assertions had been, unfortunately, correct.
Multiple Heathen organizations have responded, mostly with the intent of informing the various media outlets covering this story that such outliers should not be presented as representative of the majority of our communities and to showcase the efforts of multiple organizations that actively combat these elements. It would hardly be the first time that larger media sources have broad-brushed our entire community as nothing but white power extremists and multiple organizations have been working fervently to prevent that from happening yet again.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – TROTH RESPONSE TO PORTLAND TRAIN ATTACK
From: In-Reach Heathen Prison Services, The Troth
May 31st, 2017
PHILADELPHIA, PA: In the wake of the Portland, Oregon, train attack on May 26, 2017, it has come to the attention of In-Reach Heathen Prison Services that there are indicators that the alleged perpetrator came to Odinism while incarcerated. In-Reach is reminded of the scope of its mission and the need to engage more community organizations within and beyond the Heathen community in the face of the virulent form of racist Odinism that has taken root in many prison facilities throughout the United States.
Since its founding in 2011, In-Reach has striven to provide Heathen inmates with Heathen literature, correspondence, and visitation. In-Reach is an inclusive Heathen program that functions under the auspices of The Troth, which is one of the oldest and largest of the international Heathen organizations.
In-Reach Heathen Prison Services is a long-time supporter and advocate of inclusive Heathenry, which welcomes all Heathens from all walks of life regardless of skin color, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.
In-Reach condemns the actions of the alleged perpetrator as well as the mindset that breeds such hatred and violence. Racist groups within prisons often engage in bullying tactics to instill fear into inmates who do not hold such views, and the racists’ rhetoric and dominance cause them to be the Heathens most visible to the correctional officers, chaplains, and administrators, who often do not understand the dynamics at play. As such, the racists become who defines Heathenry in many of these facilities.
Horrific incidents such as the Portland attack underscore the need for In-Reach’s work. Our volunteers strive to show inmates that they don’t have to tow the line of hatred and racism that often comes with being in prison.
This is a long and hard battle to fight and one that never ends; in fact, the racist elements are becoming louder and bolder. Thus, our efforts require us to have more community support in order to help the volunteers to serve the incarcerated Heathen populations better. We need to increase educational opportunities for chaplains and other prison staff to understand the difference where the faith ends and hate starts.
We ultimately want to be able to bridge a gap to help both the Chaplains and inmates understand that they don’t have to give into the hate. There are other ways and they don’t have to follow the crowd. This is truly the hardest part of prison outreach. We will not give up and we will not give in.
Our hearts go out to the targets and victims of last Friday’s attack. The alleged perpetrator brought shame to our religion and, in the eyes of many, to our gods and goddesses. This is unacceptable, and the rest of the Heathen community must actively stand against everything that the racist groups represent.
For more information on In-Reach Heathen Prison Services, please visit https://www.thetroth.org/programs-offered/in-reach.html
In-Reach Heathen Prison Services
Robert L. Schreiwer
Founder and Elder
In-Reach Heathen Prison Services
HUAR’s Formal Response on the Portland Killer
June 1st, 2017
Heathens United Against Racism (HUAR) would like to formally comment that the Portland Killer’s actions didn’t happen in a vacuum. In an environment where hate-speech is being normalized and promoted, it tends to bubble over into violence. While it has been an existing problem, Pagan and Heathen communities have seen recent increases in racist, violent, and bigoted ideologies trying to sew themselves into the fabric of our faith-traditions. But fringe faiths are not alone, as many major religions such as Christianity are facing the same problems right now. Also like Christianity, there are certain groups and members of our community that deserve more blame than others. Groups like the Asatru Folk Assembly (AFA), Soldiers of Odin, Wolves of Vinland, and their web of allies promote ideas of racial separatism, competition, and violence. They have done so under the auspices of “Pride” and “Heritage.” The AFA is also committed to their prison ministry work, which only promotes their brand of Asatru (commonly known as “Odinism” within the prison system) in an environment that is already rife with white supremacy, skinheads, and Neo-Nazis.
To combat the toxicity of exclusive practices, groups such as HUAR, The Alliance for Inclusive Heathenry, Heathens Against Hate and others have been formed. Huginn’s Heathen Hof (HHH) united these organizations even further when they created a pact called “Declaration 127” that asks the Heathen and Asatru communities to disown and distance themselves from the AFA for these reasons. In total, there are currently 170 organizations from 17 nations internationally, including The Troth, and groups from Europe and Scandinavia where this practice has its historical roots, have signed this pact (http://declaration127.com/). We encourage all Heathens and Heathen organizations to seek out and sign this pact, but more importantly, we urge all groups and organizations to create and enforce anti-discrimination/anti-harassment statements.
The Portland Killer is our community’s responsibility, and we must do everything we can to prevent it from happening again. Our hearts and dedication go out to the victims’ families, and to the survivors of this gruesome act of terror.
“Where you recognize evil, speak out against it, and give no truces to your enemies”
-Havamal, stanza 127
Huginn’s Heathen Hof LLC, has also drafted an official press release regarding the incident, which you can download in PDF form HERE.
This message is drafted specifically to help educate news/media sites that may be covering this ‘Odinist’ story, but which may not actually be acquainted with our community and it’s efforts to reveal and expel violent extremists like Jeremy Christian. We here at Huginn’s Heathen Hof along with multiple other organizations, like those listed above, will be working to help spread these press releases among as many other news outlets as possible. If you want to help, you can download the pdf above and send it to your local newspaper. Together, we can make a clear statement to the world while the public eye is on our community. Together, we can tell them that madmen like this do not represent us.
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