This morning bay area Oakland residents awoke to horrific news that last night around 9:45 PM, a white male in his 20s had savagely attacked and murdered 18 year old Nia Wilson, slashing her throat, before then turning on Wilson’s older sister, Tashiya, who managed to survive. People on the scene describe the attack as happening out of nowhere, with the attacker quickly fleeing into an adjacent neighborhood.
Murder suspect identified in MacArthur stabbing. John Cowell is considered dangerous. Please call 911 if spotted. RIP Nia Wilson. We will bring this suspect to justice. Our thoughts are with the family and friends. Details: https://t.co/DEkTJvJnNe pic.twitter.com/igZU2bdel7
— SFBART (@SFBART) July 23, 2018
Wilson’s father speaking to local news said that he had gotten a call from his daughter who survived and rushed down to the MacArthur BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station in the neighborhood of North Oakland. The station is located in the heart of one of the most heavily impacted sections of Oakland undergoing gentrification, and around the station new condos are being built along with “hip” bars and restaurants, in an area known as a former Black Panther strong hold.
At the time of this writing, BART has released photos and a name of the suspect, John Crowell, however nothing is known about the man or his motives, other than he is a Concord resident and according to police he is “transient.”
Many on social media however were quick to drawn a link between the murders and ongoing acts of white nationalist and far-Right violence that is exploding across the country in the wake of Trump coming to power. The murder quickly brought to mind the savage killings carried out by Jeremy Christian, a member of the Alt-Right who had attended far-Right Patriot Prayer rallies in the Portland area. Christian killed two people on a train who attempted to stop him from harassing two young women of color and almost killed a third. At one of his court dates following the murders he screamed, “Death to antifa!”
— Wendy Trevino (@prolpo) July 23, 2018
Specifically, some on social media drew a connection between the murder and a Alt-Right meetup supposed to happen in Downtown Oakland on Monday night at the bar, Make Westings. According to posts on reddit, originally Alt-Right trolls associated with the California sub-section of the page, The Donald were planning to hold a meetup at the bar. The Donald first entered into the mainstream spotlight when Donald Trump himself shared a video created by one of the top posters on the page of himself beating up someone with an imposed image of CNN on their face in a wrestling ring. Later it was revealed that the person behind the post was also known for numerous racist and anti-Muslim statements on the same board.
People at the Make Westings bar soon got word of this, and quickly released a statement condemning the Alt-Right, which was echoed by the Mayor of Oakland, and also stated that they would hold a benefit at their establishment for various groups and non-profits. An updated posting on The Donald reddit stated: “[We’re] just a small meetup of Trump supporters, we don’t advertise ourselves. The proud boys tried to piggyback off of us…”
— Berkeley Antifa (@berkeleyantifa) July 23, 2018
This move by Make Westings marks yet another establishment closing its doors to the Proud Boys and associated organizations. In recent week, members of the Proud Boys and other groups on the far-Right have also been removed from various bars, including in Los Angeles, California, and Vancouver, Washington.
But while many in the bay area applauded Make Westings, it seems few are aware that on August 5th, a larger gathering of far-Right and Alt-Right groups will converge in Downtown Berkeley. This rally is organized by long time far-Right bay area organizers, and according to one recent report, will feature security from the American Guard, a group known for its connection to neo-Nazis and white nationalists and which also attended Unite the Right in Charlottesville.
One year after the murder of #HeatherHeyer, and once again the far-Right is attempting to unite. With rallies planned in #Portland, #Berkeley, and #DC, the far-Right is changing up its tactics, but still has the same goal: defend Trump and attack the Left. https://t.co/3nzGfOvd5W pic.twitter.com/bqKB9MYjhq
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) July 23, 2018
A vigil to remember the life of Nia Wilson will take place on Monday night in Oakland; several hundreds are expected to turn out in mourning outside of the BART station where Wilson was tragically murdered. People are mobilizing against the upcoming Alt-Right rally in Berkeley on August 5th, a Facebook page for which can be found here.