A teenager’s life is taken because he is listening to rap music.
The attorney for a white man charged with fatally stabbing a black teenager at a convenience store because he “felt threatened by his rap music” says he is mentally ill and was released from jail on a prior assault conviction without medication.
“This is a failing on the part of the (Arizona) Department of Corrections,” defense attorney Jacie Cotterell said in court when Michael Adams, 27, was charged with first-degree murder.
Department of Corrections spokesperson Bill Lamoreaux added that “the tragic death is terrible, and Mr. Adams will have to answer for his alleged actions.”
Authorities say Adams stabbed 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin at a convenience store near Phoenix, Arizona. The African American teen was attacked by a mental ill man who felt threatened by music was playing in the teen’s vehicle. First responders discovered Al-Amin collapsed outside and took him to a hospital, where he eventually passed away.
Police said several patrons inside the store looked on as Al-Amin was stabbed both in the throat and the back before he ran outside in an attempt to get away from the assailant. Officers on the scene discovered Adams with a pocket knife and blood on his body.
The case has received national attention with many saying it needs to be treated as a hate crime. The Twitter hashtag #JusticeForElijah has been trending since the teen’s death.
Senator Cory Booker, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has asked that the United States Department of Justice perform a hate crime investigation.
“Another one of our children has been murdered in a heinous and unprovoked way – the DOJ must investigate this hate crime immediately. RIP Elijah. #JusticeForElijah,” he tweeted.
Al-Amin would have turned 18 two weeks after his death, according to his family members, and he was preparing for his final year of high school. They have constructed a makeshift memorial for the student and have placed it outside of the convenience store where his life was abruptly ataken. The memorial includes a pair of white porcelain angels, fresh flowers, and burning calendars, including one dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Catholic patron saint of Mexico. Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian American civil rights activist from New York wrote on the memorial, “Rest in power Elijah Al-Amin.”
Many individuals believe whether or not Adams has a mental illness, this is no excuse for the crime. He should still be prosecuted for what he did, they believe, particularly because the senseless act was hate driven. One person tweeted, “if a black man killed a 17 year old white boy for listening to country music, they wouldn’t say the black man is mentally ill. STOP using mental illness as an excuse for racism!!! and you’re painting an awful picture for people who actually have mental illnesses.”
Another tweeted, “he killed an innocent teen, but he’s the victim because of his mental health??? This narrative is old & tired. Call him what he is, a racist bigot & a terrorist.”
There is not word yet if the Department of Justice will launch a hate crime investigation.