Mourners gathered on August 3 for the funeral of Nia Wilson, an Oakland teenager who was fatally stabbed at a BART station last month.

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Funeral For Teen Killed On BART Draws Huge Crowd Of Mourners

KCBS Radio Afternoon News
August 03, 2018 - 3:18 pm

OAKLAND, CA (KCBS Radio) - Here in Oakland, 1,500 people gathered to remember the life of Nia Wilson, and demand justice for the teen slain at a BART train station. 

Many of the mourners at Acts Full Gospel Church wore white and gold as requested by Wilson's family.

Wilson, 18, was killed on July 22 at the MacArthur BART station. She and her sister Latifah, 26, were waiting to board a train home to Oakland when a another passenger allegedly suddenly stabbed them both. The crime provoked a significant outcry from the community and on social media, with many calling it a hate crime as the black women were allegedly attacked by a white man. 

The suspect, 27-year-old John Lee Cowell was arrested the next day while riding BART. 

Tears streamed from Wilson's sister Latifah when she spoke before the mourners. 

"Baby girl shine bright and big sister promise we will get justice for you, I love you," she said. 

Wilson's young niece Paradise Newton moved the audience with her remarks. 

"I love Nia, I wish she never died. That's the only thing I think about," said Paradise. "Can you promise to come visit me in my dreams?"

Mourners at a funeral for Nia Wilson, a teenager who authorities said was stabbed to death by a passenger on a BART train.
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Leaders representing a variety of faiths reminded the crowd that the name Nia means "purpose", and said the purpose of Wilson's life and death was to bring people together. 

"The purpose of this, N-I-A, media get a good shot of what you see here, because black folks in the town and we ain't going nowhere," said Bishop Keith Clark. 

Another bishop, Ross Garrison of the Gathering Place Of Ministry Unto Jesus in Berkeley, said political leaders should condemn the crime on racial grounds. 

"What do I want to hear them say? That this was blatant racism. That this girl, she lost her life for doing what? Being in a public place on public transportation, minding her own business," Garrison said.

Cowell's family has said he suffers from mental illness that's been untreated for years. To Garrison, that is not an excuse. "We're not standing for that," he said. "The violence, the injustice that's going on. It has to stop. It has to stop somewhere."

Cowell has been charged with murder. Wilson's family announced that they plan to sue BART for not preventing him from using the transit system, although he'd had a recent encounter with police for fare evasion. 

Reported by Jenna Lane.

Written by Jessica Yi.