On the afternoon of Friday, May 26, two teenage girls were riding a MAX train in Portland, Oregon. One was African American and the other was wearing a hijab. Then a 35-year-old man, Jeremy Joseph Christian, began hurling hate speech at these two girls. The terrified girls moved to the back of the bus to escape the man and his appalling diatribe.
Then three brave heroes stepped in to stand up for the young women. Christian stabbed them all.
Ricky John Best, a 53-year-old American veteran, lost his life at the scene. Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, a 23-year-old with a caring soul and a degree in Economics, passed away at the hospital. The third man, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, a 21-year-old poet, survived and was released from the hospital on May 29. According to reports, he quite literally evaded death by millimeters, as the knife just barely missed his jugular vein.
You have likely heard this story already, or at least the gist of it. But did you know that the survivor, Fletcher, is on the autism spectrum?
Of course, the fact that he has autism has no bearing on this story at all. Whether neurotypical or not, he’s a hero. Period. But as this is The Autism Site Blog, we want to take a moment to shine the spotlight on this incredible young man, who just so happens to be on the spectrum.
In addition to being an award-winning poet, Fletcher is also a music student at Portland State University. According to his mother, Margie, he always stood up to bullies because he, himself had been a victim in the past. But this time, sadly, he was attacked for doing the right thing.
His survival was thanks, in part, to Marcus Knipe, an Iraqi war veteran who stepped in and helped by tending to Fletcher’s wounds until EMTs could arrive at the scene. While the blade missed his jugular, it did hit an artery and Fletcher had to be wheeled into surgery. The attack also broke his jaw and paralyzed his mouth, as the knife hit one of his nerves.
While he was hospitalized, Fletcher wrote a poem:
“I, am alive, I spat in the eye of hate and lived. This is what we must do for one another/We must live for one another/We must fight for one Mother/We must die in the name dfreedome [sic] if we have to. Luckily it’s not my turn today.”
Now that he has been discharged, he is doing his best to heal, both mentally and physically—not an easy task, as he describes in the heartbreaking video below.
“I’m just trying to heal and recover right now…”
— Devon Haskins (@devonhaskins) May 30, 2017
Fletcher is a true hero, and the sacrifice he made for two strangers will never be forgotten. Micah, you are in our thoughts and prayers as you heal from this horrifying incident.
A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.