Lieutenant Richard Collins III, Gone But Not Forgotten

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On May 20, 2017, Lieutenant Richard Collins III was murdered on the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park campus. Just two days before his graduation from Bowie State University, Lieutenant Collins was brutally stabbed in an unprovoked attack by Sean Urbanski, a UMD student. The murder has been rightfully deemed a hate crime as it was influenced and inspired by racist, hateful and white-supremacist ideologies. Lieutenant Collins was a beloved son, student and American hero, whose legacy has failed to be adequately recognized by the UMD campus, many of its students and its administrators.

“Heartfelt” emails written by a well-trained public relations team to commemorate the life and death of Lieutenant Collins are not going to suffice anymore. Inadequate means of commemorating a black man’s legacy masked under a facade of concern and social awareness are no longer acceptable. UMD has had to blockade the bus stop where Lieutenant Collins took his dying breaths. You may think that the reason for this is to discourage people from sitting at the stop, however, the reality is that students have been caught vandalizing the memorial and chanting racist and bigoted epithets while doing so. Not to mention the many cases in which intoxicated students have decided to rest on the bus stop bench to eat their $5 slices of pizza. So many students, particularly those that are not most adversely affected by racism and white supremacy, fail to recognize the necessity of a memorial and the fear that such an incident incites within their fellow students of color.

To combat UMD’s complacency in the matter, I am petitioning to request that an official memorial be placed at the stop where Lieutenant Collins' life was taken. A plaque with the Lieutenant’s name should be placed on the bus stop bench and a cement-grounded barrier made up of blockade poles should surround the bus stop. However, any memorial that is established should be done in consultation and collaboration with Lieutenant Collins' family, to ensure that he is being honored in the way that they see best fit. Students, administrators, faculty, staff, and visitors of the UMD campus should be reminded of the tragedy that happened every single time they pass the bus stop. The University of Maryland should no longer remain complacent in its efforts to combat the many instances of racism and bigotry that frequent this campus. No price can be placed on the life of Lieutenant Richard Collins III, however, stronger efforts made to commemorate him will remind people that his life was and will forever be valued.