Lt. Richard Collins III honored on same Maryland campus he was murdered by white man

The Lt. Richard Collins III Plaza boasts two walls; one features an engraved plaque dedicated to Collins and the second wall displays a unity mural created by UMD and Bowie State students.

Loading the player...

Army 2nd Lieutenant Richard Collins III was fatally stabbed by a white man at the University of Maryland College Park in 2017. On Monday, the university paid tribute to Collins by naming a plaza in his honor.

As reported by WJZ, the plaza is located on the same campus where Collins, 23, was killed. Hundreds attended the dedication, including elected officials and several of Collins’ family members.

Collins was killed days before his graduation from Bowie State University. As reported previously by theGrio, in May 2017, Sean Urbanski, then 22, stabbed the Army veteran to death at the university after approaching him and two friends at an area bus stop. Collins was the only Black man awaiting the bus.

This combination of photos provided by the U.S. Army and the University of Maryland Police Department shows Richard Collins III, left, and Sean Urbanski. (U.S. Army, University of Maryland Police Department via AP, File)

Urbanski, a UMD student, “plunged a 3-inch pocket knife into Collins’ chest after ordering him to move out of the way,” per WTOP. Collins allegedly refused the man’s demand that he “step left.”

Urbanski was later convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.

“I will never accept second-class citizenship,” said Collins’ mother, Dawn Collins, at Monday’s ceremony. “You hear what I am saying? Never step left.”

The Lt. Richard Collins III Plaza boasts two walls, one features an engraved plaque dedicated to Collins and the second wall displays a unity mural created by UMD and Bowie State students, per the report. 

“The plaza was born out of tragedy … And it stands now as a permanent reminder of the mission we must all pursue in creating a more just and equitable world,” University President Darryll Pines said during the ceremony.

Dawn Collins said she hopes the plaza will be a “lasting, symbolic place,” that serves as a reminder to renounce all forms of hate and bigotry, according to the report. 

After the death of their son, the Collins family successfully lobbied Maryland lawmakers to tweak the state’s hate crime statute to pass the “2nd Lt. Richard Collins III Law” in March 2020.

“Every time that you check a man for something that is wrong, you add to your stock of moral courage,” said Richard Collins, the father of Richard Collins III, at the ceremony on Monday, according to the report. “Do not think you can dodge the little issues, the little everyday things of duty, and then when the great test comes, you will be alright. You won’t because you will have undermined the foundation. That is the courage that makes him do what’s right because he believes it to be right.”

The unveiling of the plaza comes days after an 18-year-old white supremacist carried out a mass shooting at a supermarket in a Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people.

“It was white supremacist violence that took the life of Lt. Richard W. Collins III,” said Rev. William Lamar IV, of the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church of D.C., at the ceremony. “This is also the story of Buffalo as well. This will not stop by our platitudinous rhetoric … it will not stop until we attack head-on the myths that this nation lives by.”

Lamar added, “A plaza is not enough.”

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!

Loading the player...