- The Washington Times - Monday, May 22, 2017

The FBI is investigating as a possible hate crime the fatal stabbing of a black student visiting the University of Maryland at College Park, one of a series of racial incidents reported on local campuses this year.

Saturday’s slaying of 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III, a freshly commissioned Army officer who was set to graduate Tuesday from Bowie State University, follows the discovery of a noose hanging inside a fraternity house on the College Park campus and bananas dangling from light poles with the Greek letters of a predominately black sorority written on them at American University in Washington.

Sean Christopher Urbanski, 22, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder as well as first-degree assault in the knife attack that killed Lt. Collins, 23, around 3 a.m. Saturday, University of Maryland Police said.

On Monday afternoon, a judge ruled that Mr. Urbanksi would be held without bond until his trial.

The FBI was called in after campus police learned that Mr. Urbanksi was a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich: Nation” that disparaged many ethnic groups, campus police Chief David Mitchell said Sunday evening at a press conference.

“We are here to evaluate that as an ongoing concern with respect to whether or not this was a hate crime,” FBI Special Agent Gordon B. Johnson, who heads the agency’s Baltimore field office, said at the press conference.

The Facebook group, whose name is a portmanteau of “Alt-Right” and “Third Reich,” another name for Nazi Germany, has since been deleted, but several news outlets captured screen grabs of conversations among the group.

“When I looked at the information that’s contained on that website, suffice it to say that it’s despicable, it shows extreme bias against women, Latinos, members of the Jewish faith and especially African Americans,” Chief Mitchell said. “Which brings up questions as to the motive in this case, knowing that we will continue to look for digital evidence, among other items of evidentiary value.”

On May 1, bananas were found at three different locations on American University’s campus. Fanta Aw, interim vice president for campus life, said the bananas had the letters AKA written on them, representing the mostly black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha.

American University President Neil Kerwin called the incident a “crude and racially insensitive act of bigotry.” He noted that the incident came after the first black woman and AKA member had been sworn-in as the student government president.

“Racially charged acts of bigotry are done to instill fear and inflict pain in our community — especially at stressful times, such as at the end of the term,” Mr. Kerwin said.

Less than a week later, University of Maryland officials reported a noose had been found in the kitchen of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house. At the time, university President Wallace Loh condemned the use of “a symbol of violence and hatred for the purpose of intimidating members of our University of Maryland community.”

FBI statistics show that in 2015, nearly 60 percent of hate crimes across the country were race-related. And nearly 50 percent of the perpetrators of hate crimes overall were white. The agency has not yet released statistics for 2016.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League said in a March report that white supremacist groups are pushing to recruit college students.

Supremacist groups such as Identity Evropa, American Vanguard and American Renaissance have issued statements on their websites calling for a focus on recruiting at college campuses.

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