In the most recent instance of senseless violence, a young black woman has lost her life in a stabbing. On July 22nd, 18-year-old Nia Wilson was murdered at a BART train station in Oakland, California. Here’s what you need to know about the victim of this tragic crime, which some are now calling a hate crime.
According to ABC 7 News, the teen was traveling home from a family get-together with her two sisters when a 27-year-old white man, John Lee Cowell, a convicted felon, attacked them as they tried to transfer trains. Cowell stabbed Nia in the neck first before also injuring her 26-year-old sister, Letifah, who survived the attack. Their other sister was not harmed. Although Letifah said she tried to apply pressure to her sister’s neck using a baby blanket, Nia died at the scene of the crime.
Letifah said in a July 23rd interview with the local ABC affiliate that the three women had been “blindsided by a maniac.” She recalled her sister calling her name and remembered trying to comfort her.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Cowell was arrested on July 23rd on charges of first-degree murder.
Nia graduated from Oakland High School and wanted to work in criminal justice as well as open her own dance studio and create her own makeup line. On a GoFundMe page to raise money for her family, Nia is described as “full of life, smart and beautiful beyond word’s [sic].” The page also states that she loved to “do makeup, hair and get dolled up and enjoy life.”
According to Bay Area CBS affiliate KPIX, BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas called the stabbing “one of the most vicious attacks that I have seen.” But he said there wasn’t evidence of the incident being a hate crime. Others, however, argued that the instance was likely racially motivated, given that Cowell chose to attack two black women.
Kehlani, a singer from Oakland, tweeted about Nia’s murder, referring to her killer as a “white supremacist.”
The BART stabbing was a terrible act of violence — one that we can’t wrap our heads around. Our hearts break for Nia’s friends and family.