One Out of the Thousands of Police Who Rape Is Convicted in Oklahoma City

December 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


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For at least seven months, from December 2013 through mid-June 2014, an on-duty, in-uniform cop stalked Black women in an oppressed area of Oklahoma City. He attacked at least 13 women—about one every two weeks during that time period—including a 17-year-old girl raped on her mother’s porch and a 57-year-old grandmother forced into oral sex while staring at her attacker’s handgun. Terror and humiliation was central to these crimes, most of which were carried out on streets and other public areas where some of the women were forced to disrobe. Many of the women said they believed that they would be killed if they did not submit, or maybe even if they did.

The sadistic thug who carried out these attacks was Oklahoma City cop Daniel Holtzclaw, and on December 10, he was convicted on 18 counts of sexual assault against eight women. (He was not convicted on charges involving assaults on five additional women.) He is awaiting sentencing, and could face 235 years in jail.

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The evidence against Holtzclaw was overwhelming. First and foremost there was the heroic testimony of the women themselves, defying fear of not only Holtzclaw, but of the police as a whole, who in this society hold the power of life and death, and who wield that power viciously and without accountability against Black and Brown people. In fact, Holtzclaw himself had been part of a gang of four cops who, one year earlier, brutally hogtied a 39-year-old Black man having a mental health crisis, leading to his death...and all four were exonerated in this murder by the police department.

Think of the courage it takes for a group of poor Black women, many living on the margins of society where encounters with the police are common, to publicly call out a cop as a rapist and demand he be punished!

The women all described very similar patterns of being stopped for allegations of minor crimes or violations, and being told that the only way to avoid arrest was by submitting to Holtzclaw’s sexual demands. And this testimony was corroborated by his GPS, which located him at the time and place of each of the attacks, and in some instances by DNA from the women found on Holtzclaw’s clothing.

Holtzclaw was brazen! He carried out these attacks in the course of his regular duties, wearing his uniform with his name tag, driving the patrol car assigned to him. Some were carried out in his squad car or at the side of the road. He clearly believed that none of the women would dare to report him, and if they did, that they would not be taken seriously. And to a large extent, he was right about that.

Holtzclaw’s victims spoke to why they did not report their attacks at first: “I didn’t think anyone would believe me. I’m a Black female”; “I feel like all police will work together”; “I didn’t know what to do. Like, what am I going to do? Call the cops? He was a cop.”

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And let’s be clear, rape at the hands of police is not an “aberration,” it is common. Holtzclaw’s basic M.O. of preying on women who have minor run-ins with the police and demanding sex in exchange for being let go, is widely practiced across the U.S., a familiar fear among women of color, and considered one of the “perks” of the job by plenty of cops.

An Associated Press investigation of sexual abuse by police described the case of one victim in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: “Despite screaming ‘He raped me!’ repeatedly to other officers present, she was accused of assaulting an officer and jailed for four days, the district attorney, citing a lack of evidence, declined to prosecute [the cop who raped her]. Only after a federal investigation was he tried and convicted.” [Emphasis added.]

The AP report cited a Chicago woman who works with victims of sexual abuse by police: “[M]ost of the women she counseled never reported their crimes—and many who did, regretted it. She saw women whose homes came under surveillance and whose children were intimidated by police. Fellow officers, she said, refused to turn on one another when questioned.” A woman—formerly police chief in Portland, Oregon—summed up: “How are you going to get anything to happen when he’s part of the system and when he threatens you and when you know he has a gun know he can find you wherever you go?” [Emphasis added.]

According to the AP, there were over 500 police nationally who were decertified because they had committed sexual assaults between 2009 and 2014. And again, these were the cops who were reported, and where the charges were taken seriously, and where their departments took action. So this is a very small portion of the police rapists. AP also reported that between 2005 and 2011, more than 5,500 cops were arrested for sexual misconduct. Again, the tip of the iceberg.

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In Holtzclaw’s case, his last (known) victim did report the attack, in June of 2014. And in this case, police pressed charges, there was a trial and conviction—a rare case of at least partial justice in a rape-by-police case. But even this trial was in many ways a vivid example of in-justice, white supremacy, and degradation of rape victims. For one thing, the 13 Black women victims confronted their attacker in a courtroom in which everyone else—all the jurors, the judge, the bailiffs, the prosecutors—was white. And, while Holtzclaw, out on bond, showed up every day in a suit and tie, many of his victims had been jailed and were led into the courtroom in handcuffs, wearing their orange jumpsuits, and in some cases were even shackled while testifying.

And it was also very notable that in spite of the horrific nature of the charges against Holtzclaw, which came in the midst of a national uproar about police terror, his arrest, indictment and trial were pretty much a non-story nationally until the last few days of the trial. The mass (really ruling class) media played its role of “damage control,” doing what they could to justify, conceal or distort reality so as to protect the pristine illusion that the police are anything but violent enforcers for a brutal and oppressive system, and their culture is one where a serial rapist in uniform could sexually assault Black women for months.



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