An Oregon man was arrested on charges of second-degree intimidation and harassment for swearing at an Indian student and her parents on MAX Green Line train in Portland, Oregon.
“I’m the nicest person who should have never been behind jail in American history,” Steven Klopp, 35, told KGW.com while he defended himself during his arraignment.
Klopp was accused of using racial slurs and taunts towards a recent Portland State University graduate whose parents had come from India just to see their daughter graduate college.
According to a phone interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive, the graduate said that she and her parents were riding on a MAX Green Line train on June 15 when a man with a blue guitar boarded soon after and started yelling at them to get out of the United States.
The graduate continued on with her story stating that her family ignored the man at first even though he continued yelling at them and hurling slurs which he appeared to be directing at her mother and eventually spit on her dress.
She also said that there were three other people in the MAX car but no one tried to help.
“My mom was freaking out. I’m the only one of us who speaks English, but it’s clear that he is aggressive for no reason. In my mind, I’m thinking about the people who were stabbed on the MAX, and I’m panicking, because I don’t know if this person has any weapons on him and planning to attack us,” the psychology graduate told The Oregonian/OregonLive, who had never experienced such racial horror in this country adding that it was her dad’s first time visiting here.
The graduate even stood between her mother and Klopp while she called 911 claiming that “it was the first time I’ve ever had to call 911” and once Klopp saw what she was doing, he started yelling at her until he took his guitar and left at a stop near Southwest 6th Avenue and Madison Street.
The graduate estimated that the incident lasted anywhere from five to 10 minutes and that she gave a description of Klopp when they were encountered by police officers at Pioneer Place where the MAX stopped however, they couldn’t find him.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reported that the incident came a little more than two weeks after three men were stabbed on a MAX train also on the Green Line, after a man verbally assaulted two young women, one of whom was wearing a hijab.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, when Portland State police Officer David Troppe met with the graduate, he discovered another report of a man with a blue guitar yelling hours after the incident involving the woman’s family had taken place.
Other officers had reported seeing a man with a blue guitar sleeping in the Urban Center Building and he had been arrested on suspicion of trespassing two days after the incident on the MAX train.
According to the affidavit, when Troppe spotted Klopp on Thursday, along Southwest 10th Avenue, he asked him if he remembered yelling and spitting at anyone while on the MAX Green Line a month ago.
“Yeah, there was some stupid Indian woman that was saying something that was so extreme that it was so insane,” Klopp replied as said in the court papers adding that fact that he “knew it was illegal to spit on someone, but that ‘she’ was the one who crossed the line.”
Klopp has built up a criminal record since 2012 however, according to his mother and twin brother, he has been suffering from Schizoaffective Disorder, which is a combination of schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, for the past five years.
“When he’s on his medication and stabilized, he does well. He can be a productive member of society,” Susan Klopp told The Oregonian/OregonLive.
“We are just one family with a member in a broken mental health system that’s affecting people across the country. I want to apologize to the (victims), we are extremely sorry. I’m sure they were terrified. But what happened was not a racist incident; it was a mental health one. I’m just sorry they caught the brunt of that,” she added.
But the Psychology graduate is still scared, “I’ve been trying to forget that day. It was the worst day of my life,” she told The Oregonian/OregonLive mentioning that she will now move out of Portland even though her parents fear for her safety no matter where she lives in this country.