COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It was a somber scene at Bowie State University’s commencement ceremony, Tuesday. One chair reserved for graduates, sat empty in memory of Second Lieutenant Richard Collins III.
The senior was murdered just days before graduation.
Bowie State University’s commencement was held at University of Maryland, the same place where Collins was stabbed to death just four days prior.
UMD student, Sean Urbanski is charged with Collins’ murder. Investigators say Urbanski was a member of an anti-Semitic Facebook group called “Alt-Reich Nation”. The group has since been removed from social media, but the FBI says agents are still investigating Urbanski’s role in the group and whether the deadly stabbing was motivated by hate.
The Prince George’s County NAACP says they too are investigating a bigger issue of racism at UMD’s campus.
“We are working with the national chapter and the chapter at UMD and there are some concerns. University of Maryland is part of the community, not separate from the community, and this is a community problem,” explained Bob Ross, President of NAACP Prince George’s County.
University of Maryland students say racism has been an ongoing issue. In fact, students and professors are even taking to twitter using the hashtag, #feartheturtle, to express their concern and expose what they feel have been racist experiences on campus.
One student writes “Native of PG County, called the N word for the first time in my life on frat row at UMD.”
Another shared: “Swastikas and KKK symbols written on the whiteboards and walls in my dorm freshman year.”
Students say something needs to change.
“I think there needs to be a change of culture, like police culture, student culture, people like me, because obviously, I am white and I am speaking on behalf of fellow students that are not white, and there needs to be more of that,” expressed UMD student, Lexi Vipatez.
Prosecutors say if it is found that 2nd Lt. Collins’ murder was indeed a hate crime, the case will be handled in federal court.