Elijah Al-Amin, a Black teen, was killed by a white man, Michael Paul Adams who said he felt "threatened" by the rap music he was playing.

#JusticeForElijah: Michael Paul Adams Kills 17-Year-Old Elijah Al-Amin Because He Was Listening to Rap Music

The #JusticeForElijah hashtag trended on Twitter this week after 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin was fatally stabbed by 27-year-old Michael Paul Adams for listening to rap music Adams found “threatening.”

Al-Amin was at a gas station Thursday morning when Adams approached the teen from behind and stabbed him with a pocket knife. Adams admitted to the killing to police, saying the rap music the teen had been listening to in his car made him feel “unsafe.” Adams is white and Al-Amin was Black, white and Latino, KTLA reports.

Adams has a prior criminal history including theft, disorderly conduct, assault with a weapon and assault on a corrections officer and was two days out of prison when the incident occurred. He is charged with first-degree premeditated murder and is being held on $1 million bail. He is scheduled for his preliminary hearing July 15.

Records state he told police rap music makes him feel “unsafe” because he had been harmed by people who listened to rap music in the past, adding that he believed people who listen to rap music are a threat to him and the community.

Surveillance footage shows no altercation or interaction between Al-Amin and Adams before the stabbing. According to police records, Adams told police he did not feel threatened by the teen, but rather by the music itself, claiming he needed to be “proactive rather than reactive.”

Adams’ attorney, Jacie Cotterell, told the judge in the initial court appearance that her client had a history of mental illness and that he did not have sufficient support upon his release. She said he did not receive medications or a courtesy ride to obtain mental health care despite the department knowing he was on mental health probation.

However, a statement by the Arizona Department of Corrections declared Adams was not designated seriously mentally ill.

“Prior to his release, Inmate Adams was provided contact information for services in the community such as continuing care, housing, welfare as well as other community resources,” the statement said. “He was not designated seriously mentally ill (SMI).”

Scapegoating mental illness as a direct cause of violence and racism is common. When white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, news outlets like Fox News and The New York Times emphasized his troubled past and possible mental illness, though Roof denied being mentally ill and refused to reveal psychiatric information in court.

Even if Roof were confirmed mentally ill, the reality is that mental illness does not directly cause bigotry and violence — white supremacist radicalization does. In fact, those with severe mental illness are over 10 times more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crimes, according to MentalHealth.gov.

With the hashtag #JusticeForElijah, Twitter users are speaking out against Adams’ mental illness defense and demanding the crime be treated as a hate crime.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker tweeted, calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to launch 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”

“Young Black teens are being murdered in the US for wearing hoodies, playing with toys, listening to rap music, standing outside a store,” a Twitter user said. “This is a racial issue, not a mental health issue. These people are white supremacists and terrorists. Tired of this s**t. #JusticeForElijah”

Another Twitter user echoed the statement, pointing out the double standard that exists when white men are excused of crimes while Black men receive no benefit of the doubt:

KTLA reports Arizona does not have a separate “hate crime” charge, but that if Adams is convicted, prosecutors could seek a hate crime enhancement that would lead to stronger sentencing.

In a tearful interview with KVOA.com, Al-Amin’s father remembers his child as a happy-go-lucky and good young man who always tried to help others and had plans to go into hotel management.

“You took a helluva kid,” he said to KVOA.

There is a “Justice for Elijah” GoFundMe page.

 

Correction: Elijah Al-Amin was fatally stabbed by 27-year-old Michael Paul Adams. A sentence in the original article indicated that a shooting occurred.

Latest News

Wells Fargo Launches ‘Many hearts. One community.’ Holiday Campaign

Originally published on newsroom.wf.com. Beneficiaries include the American Red Cross, Feeding America and small businesses in appreciation for being the “heart” of communities SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The perseverance of communities continues to be a shining light during these trying times, and Wells Fargo is celebrating the optimism and determination of…

Pascal Desroches

AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens to Retire in March 2021. WarnerMedia’s Pascal Desroches to Succeed Stephens

Originally published on att.com. AT&T [DiversityInc Hall of Fame company] Chief Financial Officer John Stephens has announced his plans to retire next March after 28 years with the company. WarnerMedia CFO Pascal Desroches has been named to succeed Stephens, effective April 1, 2021. During the transition period, Desroches will serve as…

Atatiana Jefferson

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Police Shooting of Atatiana Jefferson; Drug Industry Announces Diversity Guidelines in Development of New Medications; and More

Wrongful death lawsuit filed in the fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson by police. Family members of Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old Black woman who was fatally shot by police through a window in her own home, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Fort Worth, Texas and the…

Southern Company: Georgia Natural Gas Opens 10th Annual TrueBlue Community Awards Call for Entries

Originally published on southerncompany.com. Honor recognizes nonprofits supporting Georgia during COVID-19 and distributes grants to sustain continued efforts Georgia Natural Gas (GNG), Georgia’s leading natural gas provider, announces the call for entries for the 10th Annual TrueBlue Community Awards. This year, the awards will recognize hardworking Georgia nonprofits for their service providing COVID-19 relief…

transgender, election

Meet 6 Transgender and Gender-Nonbinary Politicians Who Broke Ground in 2020

Despite the fraught nature of the 2020 presidential election results, victories at state levels put at least six transgender and nonbinary individuals in legislative positions. These small but significant gains for transgender visibility in politics came just before Transgender Awareness Week, which celebrates transgender people from Nov. 13–19 before Transgender…

Roger Ferguson to Retire as President and CEO of TIAA

Originally published on tiaa.org. TIAA, a leading provider of secure retirements and outcome-focused investment solutions to millions of people and thousands of institutions, said Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., intends to retire as President and CEO on March 31, 2021. The company’s Board and Mr. Ferguson believe it is an appropriate…