President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Monday in Arlington, Va. He later condemned Friday's Portland train stabbing as "unacceptable" in a tweet. Photo by Olivier Douliery/UPI/Pool | License Photo
May 29 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump condemned Monday the fatal stabbings of two people who tried to stop a man yelling anti-Muslim slurs on a train in Portland, Ore.
"The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable," Trump tweeted tthrough his official White House account. "The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are w/ them."
Trump had not previously commented on the Portland attacks and faced mounting criticism for his silence. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and others called on Trump to speak out on the attack.
"The president contextualizes Muslims as foreigners and as national security threats, and it seems his hostility toward American Muslims is promoting this narrative of hate that led to the stabbings in Oregon," said Robert McCaw, a top official with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"Trump needs to make it clear once and for all that American Muslims are equal citizens and that they also need protection."
Vice President Mike Pence echoed Trump's statement.
"Well said, Mr. President," Pence tweeted. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the heroes in Portland and the loved ones they left behind."
Police charged Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, with the stabbing deaths of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Rick Best. A third man, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, was severely injured.
They intervened when Christian started yelling hate speech in a tirade at two Muslim women, one of whom was wearing a hijab, police said.
Christian, 35, is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. He was charged with two counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.
On Saturday, about 1,000 people gathered for a vigil in memory of Namkai-Meche, 23, a recent college graduate, and Best, a 53-year-old Army veteran and father of four.
Earlier Monday, Trump honored U.S. military members who died while serving their country during a visit to Arlington National Cemetery.