Richard Collins III, 23, was remembered as a loyal patriot and dedicated student before an alleged white supremacist stabbed him to death in 2017.
Collins was just days away from graduating from Bowie State University when Sean Urbanski, 24, a University of Maryland student, randomly attacked him as Collins visited friends on campus. Urbanski has since been charged with a hate crime, which when results in a death, can carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Now, two years after the tragedy, Collins’ parents are still fighting for their son to be officially recognized by the U.S. Army as a second Lieutenant.
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According to The Baltimore Sun, Collins’ father, Richard Collins, is calling upon the Army to commission his son posthumously. Collins made the request for community support at a Caucus of African-American Leaders (CAAL) meeting in Annapolis, MD on Tuesday.
“We’re fighting that battle now,” said Collins, according to The Sun.
“This is not a them vs. us. It’s a problem for America” said Dawn Collins, mother of Richard Collins III.
“His story is part of a continuation of African-Americans being denied the rights to do their due,” said Carl Snowden, convener for CAAL in an interview with theGrio.
“It is unfortunate but not surprising that we have the U.S. Army during the Trump administration showing this kind of resistance,” he continued.
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Snowden and CAAL are urging elected officials across the state to write the U.S. Army in support of Richard Collins III receiving his honors.
“That the Collins family has had to endure what police and prosecutors believe is a racially-motivated crime is heartbreaking,” says Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley in a statement to theGrio.
Buckley plans to send a letter to the Secretary of the Army Marc Esper in support of Collin’s commissioning, a move which is not required by law, but possible if the Army agrees to it.
“To deny this young man the commission he earned is a secondary injustice. I will work to ensure that my office does everything to insist on this commissioning for the family.”
Building a case
A judge recently ruled that racist memes and a Facebook page called Alt-Reich Nation can be admitted as evidence in the case against Urbanski.
After an initial postponement, the trial is expected to commence on July 22, 2019. Several members of the CAAL plan to be in attendance.
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“[Collins’] mother describes her son as someone who was so committed to his nation that he had above his bed an American flag that he would salute before going to bed,” says Snowden. “I don’t know anymore greater symbolism of patriotism than that.”
The U.S. Army has yet provide an official response to theGrio’s request for comment.
Natasha S. Alford is Deputy Editor of theGrio and a digital host. You can follow her for news and updates at @NatashaSAlford on Twitter and Instagram.