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Flowers, Messages Gathered At Memorial For TriMet Stabbing Victims

The Hollywood Transit Center has been transformed into an impromptu memorial for the victims of last week’s stabbing attack.

Two men were killed and another was injured while trying to protect victims of hate speech on a TriMet light-rail train at the center. Over the weekend, friends and family of those slain held a vigil at the transit center. Sympathetic Portlanders continue to visit to pay their respects, adding hundreds of notes, flowers, candles and chalk messages.

“It’s a little overwhelming to know that something like this could happen in a city that is known for being more liberal,” said Maria McIntyre, a commuter passing through the transit center Tuesday. “The truth is that no city is free from intolerance.”

Visitors to the site say they’re overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotion. The sheer volume of flowers, pictures and chalk messages makes nearly every person stop in their tracks as they pass. Many people paused Tuesday to take pictures, read messages or shed a tear.

Hannah Hayes works at the grocery store across the street from the transit center. She and two coworkers brought flowers. She said the attack was disheartening, but she appreciated the reaction.

“It’s just beautiful to see everyone come together and create something like this,” Hayes said.

Some of the messages are angry, while others thank the victims for standing up. But most can be summed up by one message, scrawled in chalk: “Love is more powerful than hate.”

Roberta Altstadt is a spokesperson for TriMet, which operates public transit in Portland. She said the messages at the transit center are both “heart-wrenching and heartwarming at the same time.” TriMet is working on plans for a permanent memorial at Hollywood Transit Center, though they aren’t sure yet what it will look like, she said.

“We definitely want to honor the selflessness and the heroism of the individuals, but we also want it to reflect the inclusivity of Portland as well as our transit system,” she said.

For now, Altstadt says the flowers, candles and chalk messages will stay at the transit center.

“We’ve instructed our maintenance personnel to not move them unless they pose a safety risk," she said. "Right now I think it’s important to have those there.”

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Laura Klinkner