By Jonathan Borge
Jul 25, 2018 @ 6:00 pm
Lorin Eleni Gill/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Hollywood stars are using their platform to make sure the story of Nia Wilson, an 18-year-old Bay Area woman who was fatally stabbed at an Oakland train station on Sunday, does not go unnoticed.

Wilson and her sister, Lahtifa, 26, were transferring trains on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) when a suspect eventually identified as John Lee Cowell, 27, approached them. He stabbed both women, wounding Lahtifa and killing Nia, according to The New York Times.

Lahtifa told a local ABC affiliate that she and her sister, who was pronounced dead at scene of the crime at MacArthur Station, were “blindsided by a maniac.” In a statement, Cowell’s family revealed he was not seeking treatment for his schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Following the attack, locals criticized the BART Police Department for the time it took them to locate the suspect (it took them one day), insinuating that they would have moved more rapidly if the suspected attacker was black. Online, many hypothesized that the murder was also motivated by race, as the Wilson sisters are black and Cowell is white.

BART Police Department Chief Carlos Rojas reacted to the implications of a hate crime at a press conference on Monday, saying, “While we don’t have any facts that suggest he’s connected with any white supremacist group, we are going to explore all options.” Rojas added that it was “probably one of the most vicious attacks that I’ve seen,” and Oakland Mayor Lobby Schaaf shared condolences.

“The senseless and violent stabbing of two young women on a BART train platform last night has shaken our community. Every parent who saw the father of Nia Wilson grieve for his daughter is heartbroken by this horrific act,” Schaaf said in a statement.

As the Times reported, protestors wondered why the two officers at MacArthur Station weren't able to apprehend the alleged attacker, implying a double standard in the way authorities respond to white and black suspects. “There were two officers at that station, but it happened so quick,” a BART spokesperson said. “It all took 20 seconds.”

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Since, stars like singer Kehlani, an Oakland native, have taken to social media to capture the racist undertones and bring attention to Wilson’s death. “#BART manages to catch riders who haven’t paid ticket fair, young graffiti artists, you can catch a murderer. give her family some peace and get a murderous white supremecist [sic] off of oakland streets,” she wrote in a tweet.

Others are using the hashtag #SayHerName to call attention not only to Nia’s story, but to that of other innocent black citizens who have died as a result of racism. Scroll down for more celebrity reactions.


My heart is heavy and I promise I will stand with my sisters. I will stand up and scream. I will demand #justicefornia 💔 Repost @glennondoyle with @get_repost ・・・ She was murdered by white supremacist and terrorist, John Cowell. He slit her throat and she died as her older sister, Letifa, held her. I cannot stop thinking about Letifa tonight. I cannot stop thinking about my baby sister tonight. I cannot stop thinking about sisterhood tonight. What I am thinking is that the only thing that’s gonna save this country is if white women start standing up and screaming for justice for black women. We don’t. We just don’t. We need to start. We women - all of us- are SISTERS and nobody is coming to protect us. We’ve just got each other. We have got to PROTECT EACH OTHER. The good news is TOGETHER- we are strong enough to do It. If we ever truly showed up for each other.. if we ever collectively looked at power and said: ENOUGH- NOT ON OUR WATCH - not a minute longer. If we ever stood together and said to power: No justice for our sisters? THEN no peace from the sisterhood. They’d have no choice but to give us justice. When the media vilifies Nia- as They will since she’s black- call them out. Tell them enough, for God’s sake. When they excuse the terrorist- as they will since he’s white- call them out. Tell them no: we’ll go ahead and call a terrorist, a terrorist. Demand justice for Nia. Stand with our black sisters. Women: We’ve gotta love each other or die.

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Nia Wilson ❤️💔 #SayHerName

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