ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A tougher anti-hate law named in honor of 1st Lieutenant Richard Collins, III went into effect in Maryland on Thursday.
1st Lieutenant Collins, III was recently posthumously promoted in rank.
In May 2017, a man with ties to a white supremacy group murdered the Bowie State University student as he visited the University of Maryland, College Park campus.
The new anti-hate crime law aims to give prosecutors the ability to secure a conviction against someone who commits a crime based “in whole or in substantial part” on a person’s race.
Sean Urbanski, who was convicted in Collins’ murder, had ties to a white supremacy group. He stabbed and killed Collins, but when he was only convicted of murder and not a hate crime, Collins’ parents personally lobbied lawmakers to change the law.
“So you cannot imagine the shock and dismay that my husband and I felt when the judge dismissed the hate crime charge. It brought back images of the day when those two state troopers came to my home at 7 o’clock in the morning, to tell us our son had been murdered,” Dawn Collins explained to lawmakers. She’s 1st Lt. Richard Collins III’s mother.
On the same day the new law went into effect, the university Collins attended, Bowie State University and The University of Maryland, College Park announced the BSU-UMD Social Justice Alliance, an initiative aimed at combatting hate crimes.
“This alliance is born out of the tragic death of our Bowie State University Scholar, Lt. Richard Collins III,” said Aminta Breaux, Bowie State University’s president. “More than ever, this newly formed alliance is needed to address critical issues facing our society. The economic, social and racial divide is increasingly pulling our communities apart and challenging our country. Today, we take another big step forward to create a more just future in honor of 1st Lt. Collins.”
The University of Maryland, College Park’s president also announced a memorial and scholarship will be named in the Lieutenant’s honor.
“At the University of Maryland, we honor and remember 1st Lt. Collins. He is a part of who we are,” said Darryll J. Pines, President of the University of Maryland, College Park. “Through our newly formed Alliance with our Bowie State colleagues and the establishment of the Lt. Richard Collins III Endowed Scholarship, we reaffirm our commitment to his legacy of service and social justice.”
Both schools plan to add courses to their curriculum, to educate the next generation on the fight against social injustice.
This couple who lost their son, a commissioned army officer, just days before his college graduation, pledge to fight for a better tomorrow.
“We want to thank all the wonderful people who have walked with us along this journey,” said Richard Collins II. “This has been painful, yet important work.”
The new social justice center will be based on Bowie State University’s campus and a new memorial is planned for the College Park Campus.