The Silent Betrayal of MD Lawmakers on the Murder of Richard Wilbur Collins III

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Richard Collins III. (Handout) was stabbed to death on Saturday in what is under investigation as a hate crime by the FBI.

The year was 2017. The month was May. Students were preparing for their graduations.

The state was Maryland. The country was the United States of America. Two Maryland college students’ paths would cross. One black, one white. One died because of the color of his skin.

The crime was the horrific murder of a Bowie State University student by the name of Richard Wilbur Collins III. He was allegedly stabbed to death by Sean Christopher Urbanski, 22, a resident of Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

The murder of Richard Collins, a promising student, whose life was apparently taken because he was black. The alleged assailant is a white supremacist.

Sean Christopher Urbanski, a 2013 graduate of Severna Park High School, was a member of a racist Facebook group called “Alt: Reich Nation” where anti-Semitic diatribes appeared on a regular basis.

Several weeks ago two young white Crofton men hung nooses from a light fixture at Crofton Middle School, which is located in Anne Arundel County. They were not charged with a hate crime.

As of this writing, Councilman Michael Anthony Peroutka, who represents Severna Park and who himself has been associated with a white nationalist group, has not issued any statements.

AA County Councilman Michael Anthony Peroutka gives a speech to a hate group called The League of the South, of which he was a member for many years until he ran for Council.

No condolences to the family of the victim, no condemnation of the alleged act of hate. In fact, there has been a deafening silence among elected officials. Where is the outrage? Where are the voices condemning this senseless murder?

I am fully aware of what is happening in this country. I am cognizant that I do not hear black elected officials speak out forcefully on the death of Richard Collins either. Why have Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, Congressman Anthony Brown and others not raised their voices?

I never met Richard Wilber Collins, III, but I know young men just like him. Seeking their place in the sun. Following the rules. Playing by those rules. He did everything right: matriculated through college, planned to join the armed services to serve his nation. He was a son that any parent would be proud of.

Also, I know young men like Sean Christoper Urbanski, who believe that their white skin ordains them to be special, that they have privileges granted to them by virtue of their “whiteness.” I do not need an FBI investigation to let me know what a hate crime is.

I have seen too many racist acts in my life to be deluded by the silence of those in power, black and white, who are complicit in a system that undervalues black lives.

I am tired of the candlelight vigils, the empty gestures of politicians and their sycophants, who for a position and or a dollar keep their mouths shut. I am a father, grandfather and uncle. I am tired of seeing black men murdered and nothing being done.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that there comes a time when silence is betrayal. In the last few hours there has been far too much silence.

We must demand that our leaders speak and speak clearly. Enough. No more shuffling, no more jiving, no more complicity.

Take a stand or get out of the way.

A Luta Continua!

Carl Snowden is a political and civil rights leader in Annapolis.

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