Day 2. 16 pages, 7,046 words.
Today is my big sister’s birthday. Happy birthday Clare, I hope you have a great day and we’re thinking of you over here in scorching Finland.
But unfortunately, today’s blog post isn’t about my sister. It’s about somebody else’s sister. Somebody’s sister who is now lying dead.
Eighteen-year-old Nia Wilson, was murdered on Sunday night. Stabbed at a train station by a homeless man suffering (according to his family) from systematically untreated bipolar disorder.
This is appalling. It always is, when a person loses their life. But especially when it is a young person full of potential.
It certainly sounds as though the system failed murderer John Cowell at every turn, even if in my unsympathetic view he sounds like a rabid animal that should have been put down years ago. Perhaps there was a way back for him, once. But this isn’t about him.
 Yes. All humans are animals. Some are more broken and badly-trained than others. Most, I like to think on good days, can be helped.
Unfortunately, this isn’t about Nia either, although I dearly wish it could be and will do my best to make it so. I would prefer to make this about my own sister, rather than turn a happy day into a big sorrowful bummer. But that’s not what was meant to happen today. This is about Nia. And about the community, the society, the undeserving species of balding primates, that she for some unfathomable reason loved.
Reading the New York Times article about the tragedy was … an experience. There were all the gut-wrenching testimonials from her family and friends, about how civic-minded and kind Nia was. But the story took an even more troubling turn.
Nia’s high school boyfriend, apparently, recently died in a boating-related accident. Another tragedy, to be sure. The family and friends held a vigil, and somebody opened fire on the mourners. One of the mourners, sixteen-year-old Reggin’a Jeffries, was killed. Nia was there. Nia stayed with Reggin’a until the ambulances came. And not long after this Nia herself was murdered, stabbed in the neck.
They held a vigil for her.
And it seems as though the Proud Boys showed up to protest it. I say “seems as though”, because there’s no clear news about it that I could find with an admittedly lazy search. A lot of conviction, and a lot of accusations, and a lot of sorrow and hurt. Someone was assaulted, and (again) it seems as though that someone was a Proud Boy. In which case I would feel quite confident in saying he got what he richly deserved. But again, there is a lot of mixed information floating around. According to some of the information, the stabber was himself a Proud Boy, and was tracked down and arrested in part due to efforts on social media. Which is … a rabbit hole right there. But I dug into all this as much as I could. Too many comments sections, and now I want an asteroid the size of Madagascar to just put us all out of our misery.
Which would be a shame, on my sister’s birthday.
I don’t know whether the stabbing was racially motivated. I don’t know whether the shooting was racially motivated. I don’t know if white supremacists turned up to protest a vigil for a murdered teenager. I don’t know anything much about the other murders that took place recently on the same train system, although there were apparently three (this stabbing; an altercation that later led to a death from an infected cut; and a beating and head impact on concrete resulting in brain death, I’m so glad I have journalistic integrity).
And I don’t know much about the methods and motives of Shaun King, whose public social media post on the topic is what brought all this to my attention (and apparently his efforts helped bring Cowell to justice as well). I’m afraid what I do know about him, I don’t think much of. I certainly can’t bring myself to approve of his facial hair.
But in this case, I feel his words have merit and so I am repeating them here, by way of a signal boost.
Because the stabbing happened. The shooting happened. And the idea of anyone protesting a vigil in mourning of a murdered teen – the idea of anyone doing anything but mourning at such a vigil – is simply vile.
This, I feel, bears repeating.
I’m so sorry you had to die, Nia. And I’m bitterly angry because you didn’t have to. My best wishes and kind thoughts to your grieving family, and for a world that is poorer for having lost you.
And to my own wonderful sister Clare, again, I wish a happy birthday. This stupid, ape-infested rock has taken us one more time around the sun, and I was thinking about you.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while on the bus.