Thursday, November 21, 2019
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Bowie State stabbing may have been a hate crime

A student at the University of Maryland, College Park, has been charged with murder in connection with the stabbing death last May of Richard W Collins III at Bowie State University, the Washington Post reports.

Commencement at Bowie State, May 23 (Maryland Gov Pics / Flickr CC)

Sean Christopher Urbanski was charged yesterday with committing a hate crime in stabbing Mr Collins, who was a newly commissioned lieutenant in the Army and expected to graduate within a few days of his death.

The Post reported that Mr Urbanski had joined the Facebook group “Alt-Reich,” although we have not confirmed his membership in or even the existence of such a group on Facebook.

He allegedly told Mr Collins to “step left” if he knew “what’s best for him.” When Mr Collins refused, Mr Urbanski allegedly stabbed him and fled the scene. Mr Collins died from his injuries shortly after being stabbed on May 20 of this year.

A year ago tomorrow, researchers in England announced that new hate crimes reporting systems had given authorities a clearer picture of the level of abuse, showing that hate crimes are massively under-reported.

When people don’t report crimes that are motivated by hate, it is difficult for police and other authorities not only to investigate those individual crimes but to bring the situation under control. The study, out of the University of Huddersfield, described new techniques that could result in much more accurate estimates of the scope of the problem.

“There is nothing like these tools available at the moment, and we think they will make a difference to agencies,” said Kris Christmann, who is on the staff at the Applied Criminology Centre at the university’s School of Human and Health Sciences. “The main reasons are that people believe that nothing will or can be done about it or that they believe that the police won’t take it seriously. And of course, the police are trying to change those attitudes.”

In the case of Mr Urbanski, who is white, the FBI has stepped in, just to investigate the possible connection to racially charged crime, as Mr Collins was black.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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