By Dani Graham
Three people were murdered and one injured recently in two separate incidents in which hate seemed to be the motivation. These senseless deaths can be attributed to the recent rise in racism and bigotry.
On Saturday, May 20, 2017, a University of Maryland student, Richard Collins III, was stabbed to death because of the color of his skin. The alleged killer, Sean Christopher Urbanski, belonged to the Facebook group, “Alt-Reich: Nation”, which openly spread hate and promoted violence toward all minorities, especially the black community. Collins had only recently been commissioned as an Army lieutenant and was getting ready to graduate just a few days later when Urbanski approached him and a few friends while they were waiting for an Uber car at a campus bus stop. As Urbanski moved toward them he said: “Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you”. Collins responded with a simple “No” and that’s when witnesses say Urbanski responded quickly by stabbing Collins in the chest before fleeing. Collins died at the hospital shortly after. Urbanski was captured not far from the scene of the attack.
Just six days later on Friday, May 27, 2017, as Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, boarded the Max light rail train in Portland, OR at 4:19 P.M. he began a hate filled diatribe directed at two young teenage African American girls, one of which was Muslim and wearing a traditional Muslim hijab. He shouted at the girls to “Pay taxes”, “Get the f*** out!” and “Go home. We need Americans here!”.
Destinee Mangum, one of the young victims of this racist verbal lashing, said “he told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn’t be here, to get out of his country. He was just telling us that we basically weren’t anything and that we should just kill ourselves”.
As the frightened girls moved to the back of the train two courageous men stepped in to protect the girls and stop Christian from harassing them further. The first to intervene was Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, spoke out and told Christian that he couldn’t “disrespect the girls” that way. As Christian moved toward him, Namkai-Meche stood up in response and Christian shouted: “Oh, do something b****.” That’s when Micah Fletcher, 21, stepped in and stood up next to Namkai-Meche. At this point, things escalated quickly with Christian first stabbing Fletcher once in the neck and Namkai-Meche twice in the neck.
Ricky John Best, 53, was next to spring to action to help the men who had just been brutally attacked, but Christian also stabbed him in the neck before pushing him into Namkai-Meche and stabbing both men again.
When the train came to a stop, most passengers fled while Christian grabbed his belongings and left the train wielding his knife and threatening several people on the platform.
Ricky Best, father of four and a 23 year Army veteran, ran for County Commissioner of Clackamas, OR in 2014. He ran because he didn’t like some of the things he was seeing and said: “I can’t just stand by and do nothing”. He died at the scene proving these were words he both lived and died by.
Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche was only a year out of college and had just bought his first home. He told a passenger, Rachel Macy, who was using her tanktop to put pressue on his neck wound, “Tell everyone on this train I love them.” He later died at the hospital from the wounds he sustained. His sister, said, “I really feel like that sums up his whole spirit.” She added, “He had this huge heart for everyone that was around him.”
Micah Fletcher was the lone survivor of the vicious hate-filled attack with a wound mere millimeters from being fatal. Fletcher is not just a hero but he’s also a poet who has already expressed his experience through his gifted skill.
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 of freedom if we have to
Luckily it’s not my turn today
Three lives were senselessly snuffed out due to irrational hatred!! Three men heroically stood up and fought for true American values while extremist groups consumed by hate are on the rise. Neo-Nazi’s, White supremacists, KKK and Alt-Right groups are thriving and actively recruiting.
For decades groups like this and people with their kind of hateful, bigoted ideology had been pushed into the shadows and shunned by society at large.
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, it wasn’t uncommon for the ignorant among us to outwardly express their vile stupidity toward minorities. Most of it came from the older generations as many in our generation were beginning to evolve. The positive changes were noticeable and significant. As we grew into adulthood, we no longer would tolerate such reprehensible behavior and we demanded civility, respect, and unity.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that all the racism, bigotry and hatred has disappeared. However, with each new generation, enormous strides have been made toward a more tolerant and accepting society. Those who still held on to some of their old beliefs knew to keep it to themselves and those who still had deep-seated hate and indignation were exiled to secret underground groups where the rest of society rarely had to see or interact with them.
All that changed in the last few years. Those cretins who had been pushed back for so long have recently become emboldened. They’ve crawled out of the darkness to spread their evil tenets with pride.
They took the rallying cry of the 2016 election to “end political correctness” as an invitation to openly spew their abhorrent beliefs. The anti-PC candidate continued to rise in popularity and the polls with each outrageous and narrow-minded statement he made causing these radical extremists to become more prevalent and unabashed.
Now that the hate-filled rhetoric has turned deadly, all of us need to band together and stand up against these evil fanatics. No matter your age, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or political standing, together we can send them back into the holes they slithered out of before another innocent life is taken.
The words of Lt. Col. Joel Thomas, professor of Military Science at Bowie State University, expressed it best as he honored Richard Collins at a vigil held at the University.
“We need to be great in loving one another. And being great by loving each and every person on this earth, loving one another in this room, despite our differences,”