Death is an inevitable phenomenon out of anyone’s control so there is no reason why someone should be intentionally willing to take another person’s life. On the Sunday night of July 22nd, on their way home from a family gathering, 18 year old, Nia Wilson and her two sisters were in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) MacArthur train station in Oakland, California when Nia and her 26 year old sister, Letifah Wilson, were viciously stabbed.
Letifah survived her assault and injuries but unfortunately her younger sister, Nia, did not. The man believed to have slit Nia Wilson’s throat was arrested without incident Monday night. After an anonymous tip about the whereabouts of the potential suspect was called in, a 27 year old white male, named John Lee Cowell was arrested. Cowell, a paroled felon, was apprehended by police officers on a BART train approximately 24 hours after the Nia Wilson incident.
In an interview with an ABC News affiliate, Letifah said that Cowell never said a word to them before attacking them.
“All of a sudden, we transfer just to get blindsided by a maniac, for what I don’t know, …I looked back and he was wiping off his knife and stood at the stairs and just looked. From then on I was caring for my sister.” Letifah said.
This devastating news sparked uproar and anger by many people in the Bay Area and on social media, including Instagram and Twitter. The gendered and racial dynamic of the incident—Cowell, a white man, deciding to attack the Wilson’s, two black women—lead to the reintroduction of a major controversy. Though there is no assurance that the incident was racially motivated, once the news hit social media, multiple people speculated and assumed that the incident was a hate crime. Many feel as though this incident is an example of the violence and issues against both the African American community and female community.
“Up to this point, we do not have any information that suggests it is race-motivated, but we cannot discount it at this time,” Police Chief Carlos Rojas said during a press conference after Monday’s arrest.
Jinina Knox, a friend of Wilson’s family told local news that she “…feel[s] that the community has failed people of color for one…BART has failed us from the beginning with Oscar Grant, … [h]ow do we let a man get on BART, slit a woman’s throat, stab her to death, and walk off through our community and no stopping him?”
Unfortunately this is a tragic event bound to reoccur and I know this won’t be the last time something like this happens,. This is the sad reality we live where racism exist, sexism exist, violence is profound and injustices are common. Hopefully Nia Wilson gets the justice she deserves because no one should die the way that she did.