Police authorities in the city of Portland cited witnesses as saying that a white male passenger riding a light-rail train early Friday afternoon began yelling what "would best be characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions,” adding that "some of the slurs” targeted two female passengers, one of whom was wearing a hijab.
"This suspect was on the train and he was yelling and ranting and raving a lot of different things, including what we characterized at hate speech or biased language,” Portland police spokesman Pete Simpson said during a news conference Friday evening.
He added that the victims had tried to calm down the the abusive passenger, but "they were attacked viciously by the suspect."
"It appears preliminarily that the victims — at least a couple of them — were trying to intervene in his behavior, deescalate him and protect some other people on the train when [the suspect] viciously attacked them,” Simpson further stated.
The attacks came just as Islam’s holy month of Ramadan was about to commence. According to Simpson, Portland police had already reached out to Muslim organizations, mosques and imams in the community to talk about continuation of extra patrols during Ramadan.