Despite being a well-known white supremacist with a history of run-ins with police, the man who is accused of stabbing two men to death at a Portland transit center was missed by a controversial polce gang database.
Portland Police Bureau’s gang database had absolutely nothing on Jeremy Christian, 35, according to Slate.
The racial component of the gang database is striking with only 18% of those in the gang database identified as white in one of the whitest cities in the country. Meanwhile, 64% of those on the list are black in a city with only an 8% black population.
“Why wasn’t this known white supremacist, who was a clear danger to civilians and law enforcement, included in the database?” Slate wondered. “Because he is white.”
Slate arrived at such a conclusion after documenting how, “Christian fit the Portland Police Bureau’s description of a gang member to a T.”
“The PPB’s definition of a gang is a group of three or more people who ‘[u]se a gang name, common identifying sign or symbol, or acknowledge an identifiable leadership’ and ‘[h]ave a high rate of interaction among themselves to the exclusion of other persons or gangs.’ A gang affiliate is someone who ‘conspires to commit, or commits a crime’ on behalf of the group or against someone for their ‘race, color, religion, sexual preference, [or] national origin.’ He or she also ‘displays knowledge of the gang’s history, leadership, activities or rituals in a context that clearly indicates affiliation with the gang,” and “uses a hand sign or language which, due to content or context, clearly indicates affiliation with the gang,'” Slate explained. “Christian was clearly familiar with and embraced the history and rituals of Nazism, and intended to threaten or hurt people of color during the free speech rally in April.”
The suspect’s history heightens the questions as to why he wasn’t considered a threat to law enforcement or citizens.
“A month before the fatal stabbings in Portland, Oregon, he’d tried to stir up a fight at a free speech rally in the city’s Montavilla neighborhood. He’d showed up with a baseball bat to intimidate protesters, yelled Nazi slogans and made the hate group’s infamous salute, called black demonstrators “n***ers,” and threatened to shoot officers if they came for his weapons,” Slate recounted. “Long before that, he was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery.”
Yet he wasn’t in the PPB’s gang database.
The “Portland murders, and Christian’s absence from the gang database, illustrate that while white supremacy is lethal and thriving, law enforcement is more interested in criminalizing people of color than tackling a life-threatening trend,” Slate concluded.
The trend is clear.
“Although the number of gang-related homicides is actually dropping in Portland and other U.S. cities, the Southern Poverty Law Center did report a dramatic spike in the number of hate groups in 2016, with the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and racist skinheads leading the charge,” Slate reported. “Police haven’t tried to brand these groups as gangs or terrorist organizations, though, even as they continue to trap people of color in the criminal justice system, treating them as though they’re inherently violent and dangerous.”