A youth activist was killed in Acadia National Park. Police are looking for her boyfriend
- A 35-year-old
BIPOCactivist was killed in a hit-and-run in at Acadia National Park in Maine.
- Nicole Mokeme was the founder of a nature retreat for BIPOC girls.
When Nicole Mokeme was a stay-at-home mother in Portland, Maine she longed to connect with other women, but couldn't afford to attend popular nature retreats often held in far-off tropical destinations — and she knew there were others like her.
Instead, Mokeme — an activist for the Afro-Indigenous community — organized a local retreat, she once told a local business organization, CEI. While doing that work, she learned about an even greater need for connection among young BIPOC girls in the community, and that propelled her to found the "Rise And Shine Retreat," which has hosted local getaways for children of color since 2014. Four years later, she opened a wellness center on 135-acres of land in Bowdoin, Maine, according to the retreat's website.
Mokeme's dreams to continue her outreach and grow her business were cut short over Juneteenth weekend, when she was killed in an overnight hit-and-run at Arcadia National Park. Maine State Police announced they are searching for Mokeme's boyfriend Raymond Lester, and his Black BMW, which fled the scene.
"The State Police do not believe there is an ongoing public risk and believe this to be an isolated incident," police spokeswoman Shannon Moss said.
She was struck overnight between June 18 and 19 on the campus of the Schoodic Education and Research Center at the park, police said. That was the site of the "Black Excellence Youth Retreat," a BIPOC retreat held between June 14 and 20 that Mokeme helped organize.
Fighting for justice and embedding in nature
Mokeme, 35, described herself on the Rise & Shine Retreat website as an "enthusiastic and electrifying woman of Universal Love."
Her mission, she said, "is Black Liberation."
Racial Equity and Justice, a BIPOC-centric nonprofit in the Wabanaki Territory of Maine honored Mokeme in an Instagram post Thursday.
"Forever in our hearts. You embodied love, light, compassion, patience, leadership, understanding and authenticity," the post, which included footage from last weekend's retreat, said. "We will forever be grateful to have known you here as a friend, but also as a comrade in this community work we all hold so dearly to our hearts."
In a Q&A with a Maine-based business development organization, Mokeme said that she hoped to continue to be able to "provide quality experiences to the Afro-Indigenous community" and grow to the point where she can provide outdoor gear and supplies to the young people who participate with Rise & Shine.
The retreats offer teens from diverse backgrounds and opportunity to practice self-care — like journaling, meditation, and farm-fresh meals — in a nature, according to the organization's website.
Officials have not announced what they believe prompted the hit-and-run, and Lester has not been charged in Mokeme's
His Black BMW SUV, with license plate 5614WM, may have front-end or undercarriage damage, according to police.
Police warned the public not to approach the SUV if they spotted it, but to immediately call the agency.
Lester was arrested in Portland in 2013 after he fled the scene of a stabbing. Lester wasn't charged in the stabbing, but rather warrants on theft, forgery, and failure to appear in court.
Loved ones of Mokeme have organized a vigil in her honor and are raising money for her 11-year-old daughter, Delaney.
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