A church service and public memorial will be held next Friday for Nicole Mokeme, the black community leader killed in a hit-and-run accident in Acadia National Park last week.
The service will be held July 1 at noon at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke on State Street, followed by a public reception in Deering Oaks Park at 3 p.m., according to a GoFundMe campaign raising money for funeral costs and for helping Mokeme’s 11- year old daughter. The campaign had raised more than $17,000 by early Friday afternoon.
Mokeme called herself the “keeper of the flame,” friends said, and had become a mainstay of local black organizations through years of grassroots organizing and community support work.
“It’s our turn to give and shine the light for Nicole to see,” fundraiser organizer Rene Johnson wrote. “Help support the legacy of his daughter, Nicole. Nicole set a standard for all of us on how to be a true community; commit to and respect this Abenaki territory that holds us. Let’s be the standard and support Nicole’s legacy today.
Mokeme, who led an organization called Rise and Shine Youth Retreat, was killed during a retreat she had organized in Acadia. It drew more than two dozen people to the national park from June 14 for a week of deep rest, outdoor excursions and community building. Mokeme founded her organization in 2014 to help black girls access and learn to love the outdoors.
In addition to his own organization, Mokeme has participated in or helped found the Black Artist Forum, Embodied Equity Consulting, The Ensemble of Color (formerly, Theater Ensemble of Color), The For Us By Us Fund, The Third Place, Hi Tiger, Portland Empowered, Women United Around the World and 21st Century, Johnson wrote.
“Nicole Chioma is a cosmic force of electrifying universal love,” Johnson wrote. “(His) work continues to support younger generations with love, guidance and practical tools to exist in the human body and continues to connect resources to Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian and People of Color communities.”
As the community of Mokeme mourns her, the police continue to work to understand how she died.
Authorities have not released any information about how Mokeme was beaten and killed nearly a week ago, and it is not yet known whether investigators have made any progress in locating her boyfriend, Raymond Lester, or her vehicle, which allegedly hit her.
Police only say the crash happened between last Saturday night and Sunday morning at the Schoodic Institute in Winter Harbor, where Mokeme’s organization and others were hosting the weekend Black Mainers retreat. of June 16.
The retreat was in its final days when Mokeme disappeared overnight. By Sunday morning, police responded and had opened an investigation into the death. Investigators are looking for Lester, 35, of Portland, who Mokeme had been in a relationship with for about three years. She had known him for years longer, according to a Valentine’s Day 2021 post on her Facebook page commemorating their relationship on their second anniversary.
Police are looking for a black BMW SUV registered to Lester that may have front bumper or undercarriage damage. They didn’t say Lester was driving the SUV when it hit Mokeme.
Authorities have not said exactly where the accident took place or where Mokeme’s body was found. No account has yet been provided of what happened in the hours and minutes leading up to the accident, or of Lester’s whereabouts and what he was doing at the time.
Police declined to discuss their progress in finding Lester and did not respond to questions about whether he continued to access his bank account, cellphone or other electronically traceable resources. . They also declined to provide details on the cause and circumstances of Mokeme’s death.
HISTORY OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Lester has a history of domestic violence, as shown in court and sentencing records, starting in 2008 when he was charged with assault for domestic violence. He pleaded guilty, paid a $300 fine and was sentenced to 22 days in jail, according to a statewide criminal history report.
Two years later, in 2010, Lester was again charged with domestic violence assault and robbery. He pleaded guilty, paid another $300 fine and was sentenced to 45 days in jail.
The second domestic violence arrest came about a month after Lester received an abuse protection order.
In April 2011, Lester was arrested again for violating the protective order, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to five days in jail. A few months later, in July 2011, he was charged a third time with domestic violence and criminal mischief. The charge was turned into a felony due to his background, but he pleaded to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to six months in prison.
Between 2012 and 2021, Lester was arrested several times: for identity abuse, possession of drugs, theft, disorderly conduct, refusing to submit to arrest, receiving stolen and fake goods. His longest sentence was serving 21 days of a two-year suspended sentence followed by two years probation.
There was also an assault conviction in 2012 and in 2021 another assault charge in Rockland, but Lester received a deferred decision, an agreement in which prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charge if Lester complied. the conditions set out by the court, which generally include not engaging in further criminal conduct.
Only basic information about his arrests, convictions and protective order was available this week. Court records that may contain details of the arrests had been moved to cold storage and were not immediately accessible.
Sen. Collins, facing backlash, calls Supreme Court’s decision a ‘sudden and drastic shock’