A hashtag advocating for justice is now trending after a former Arizona prisoner admitted to slashing a teen’s throat because he felt threatened by the rap music the boy played.
Thousands are speaking out on social media in support of 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin, who was killed July 4 at a Circle K store in the Phoenix suburb of Peoria, Arizona.
Michael Adams, the man who admitted to killing Al-Amin, reportedly told police after his arrest that rap music makes him feel “unsafe” because people who listen to rap have attacked him in the past.
Adams also said although the teen did not provoke or threaten him in the recent incident, he decided to be “proactive rather than reactive.”
Adams called people who listen to rap a threat to him and the community, according to court documents.
Surveillance footage from Circle K shows Adams lunging at Al-Amin inside the convenience store then walking out a few seconds later.
Records indicate that Adams used a pocketknife to stab the teen in the back and slit his throat. The teen ran out of the store and fell under a gas pump canopy, where police who arrived on the scene began giving him CPR. Al-Amin was taken to a hospital, where he later died, the Arizona Republic newspaper reported.
With blood on his body and clothes, Adams was arrested just blocks away from the scene of the stabbing. He has been charged with first-degree murder.
It wasn’t his first arrest.
Adams’ criminal history includes charges of theft, shoplifting, marijuana violation, disorderly conduct, assault with a weapon and aggravated assault of a correctional employee, the newspaper said. He had just been released from the Arizona State Prison Complex two days before he allegedly killed the teen.
Jacie Cotterell, Adams’ lawyer, questioned his ability to access mental health services and argued he shouldn’t have been arrested to begin with.
“It’s too easy as a society to shake our head and say ‘well, they committed a crime, it’s too bad. We have jails for that when really, what they need is treatment,” Cotterell told Fox 10. “They need a bed instead of a cell.”
In a statement released to Newsweek, Bill Lamoreaux, a spokesman for Arizona Department of Corrections, said Adams “was not designated seriously mentally ill” following his release.
“The tragic death is terrible, and Mr. Adams will have to answer for his alleged actions,” Lamoreaux said.
People following the case on social media are calling for exactly that using #JusticeForElijah.
“Black men out here getting life a in prison and the death penalty off allegations and shaky evidence, but white men who commit hate crimes, murder, rape, and terrorist acts are mentally ill,” Twitter user Jaffry Ward, Jr. said. “Even a blind man can see something ain’t right.”
A Twitter user who identified herself as @therealkamryne focused on Adams’ statement about rap music being a threat to the community.
“His music, OUR music is NOT A THREAT to you or your community,” she said. “However this white narrative of ‘mental illness’ used to justify the killing of young black men is a major threat to ours.”
Jihanne Kirbie, another Twitter user who used #JusticeForElijah, called the mental illness narrative “old and tired.”
“Call him what he is, a racist bigot & a terrorist,” she said. “My heart aches for the boy’s family & friends.”
Al-Amin’s mother Serina Rides told Fox 10 she can’t understand what happened to her son.
“There’s no excuse for this,” she said. “There’s not at all, there’s no excuse. I don’t care that somebody’s hiding behind mental illness. There’s no excuse.”