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Celebrities mourn victim in Bay Area train station stabbing

Hollywood stars don't want the death of Nia Wilson to be forgotten, and they're using their social media platforms to raise awareness. The 18-year-old was killed in an unprovoked knife attack while exiting a San Francisco Bay Area train station on July 22, sparking outrage nationwide.

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This undated Facebook photo shows Nia Wilson. Facebook

Wilson and her two sisters were traveling on BART in Oakland, California, on Sunday night when they stopped to help a woman struggling with a stroller exit a train, CBS San Francisco reports, and a man suddenly approached them. The suspect, identified as 27-year-old John Lee Cowell, pulled out a knife, slashed Wilson across the neck and stabbed her sister, Letifah, before fleeing. 

The victims were black and Cowell is white. And while there has been rampant speculation on social media that the crime may have been racially motivated, BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas wasn't able to confirm that as of Monday, CBS San Francisco reports.

"While we don't have any facts that suggest he's connected with any white supremacist group, we are going to explore all options," Rojas said in a press conference.

Since Wilson's death, stars like actress Anne Hathaway and singer and Oakland native Kehlani have taken to social media, urging others to "say her name." The hashtag, #SayHerName, is meant to call attention to not only Wilson's story, but to the stories of all black female victims of violence.

"We are not the kind of people to stand by and watch," Kehlani wrote of her hometown of Oakland. "We are a people that started revolutions and sparked national inspiration in troubled times of the past."

GETTING TITLES RIGHT SAVES LIVES. making Bay Area citizens aware that a young 18 year old girl was brutally murdered and her sister left in critical condition in a vicious attack by a RACIST/TERRORIST/WHITE SUPREMACIST. this was a HATE CRIME. no “random” bart stabbing. no she wasn’t specifically targeted but her race and gender was. BART, you manage to catch riders who haven’t paid ticket fair, and young graffiti artists with your cameras and operators. YOU CAN CATCH A MURDERER. you are being held accountable. give her family and the families of all young black women in the bay area some peace, get a racist murderer off the streets. I’m so sorry Nia. Pray for her sisters recovery. God be with your family in this difficult time and to my hometown city of Oakland... we are not the kind of people to stand by and watch. we are a people that started revolutions and sparked national inspiration in troubled times of the past. if you know any information please speak up. do not turn your back on this. #JUSTICEFORNIA #NiaWilson SAY HER NAME.

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"White people- including me, including you- must take into the marrow of our privileged bones the truth that ALL black people fear for their lives DAILY in America and have done so for GENERATIONS," Hathaway wrote in an Instagram post. "White people DO NOT have equivalence for this fear of violence."

The murder of Nia Wilson- may she rest in the power and peace she was denied here- is unspeakable AND MUST NOT be met with silence.  She is not a hash tag; she was a black woman and she was murdered in cold blood by a white man. White people- including me, including you- must take into the marrow of our privileged bones the truth that ALL black people fear for their lives DAILY in America and have done so for GENERATIONS.  White people DO NOT have equivalence for this fear of violence. Given those givens, we must ask our (white)selves- how “decent” are we really?  Not in our intent, but in our actions?  In our lack of action? Peace and prayers and JUSTICE for Nia and the Wilson family xx Note: the comments for this post are closed. #blacklivesmatter #antiracist #noexcuse #sayhername #earntherighttosayhername

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"Your name means something to us and we won't stop saying it," singer Janelle Monae wrote.

"I'm getting tired of the heartbreak," actress Viola Davis wrote on Twitter. "Tired of needing to organize rally's (sic) to convince people that our lives matter."

Even actress and #MeToo movement pioneer Rose McGowan weighed in.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued a statement acknowledging that there currently was no evidence that the attack was racially motivated but "the fact that his victims were both young African American women stirs deep pain and palpable fear in all of us who acknowledge the reality that our country still suffers from a tragic and deeply racist history."

Wilson's death was the third fatal attack in the BART system in five days, making it one of the deadliest weeks in the system's history.

Crime on BART trains and in the system's stations has been a hot-button issue for nearly a year, CBS San Francisco notes. BART Police says it has ramped up patrols and working video cameras have been placed throughout stations and on the cars.   

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