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Guilty as Charged: Oklahoma City Jury Finds Ex-Cop Daniel Holtzclaw Guilty in 18 of 36 Charges for Raping Black Women

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The jury in the trial of an ex-Oklahoma City police officer has reached a verdict.  On Thursday, a jury found Daniel Holtzclaw, 29, guilty on five counts of rape, as well as 13 counts of sexual assault against eight of the 13 women who accused him.

Per the live streaming of the verdicts being read, Holtzclaw was convicted on four first-degree rape charges, and faces a possibility of life in prison, with a total of 263 years.  The former cop was not convicted on half of the 36 charges against him, which included rape, sexual battery, burglary, indecent exposure and stalking.  He faces sentencing on January 21.

These crimes took place in 2013 and 2014 between the hours of 4 p.m. and 2 a.m., during the officer’s patrol in a Black, poor area of Oklahoma City.  His victims, all Black women, ranged from teenage minors to grandmothers.  And he apparently targeted them because they were Black and vulnerable, and no one would listen or care.  Daniel Holtzclaw threatened these women not to report the crimes he committed against them.  All of them spoke up and spoke out against the man who violated them, and yet their credibility was questioned and they were criminalized, in a nation where Black women have faced rape in silence for centuries.

The case is significant at a time when the public seeks accountability and justice for the criminal behavior of law enforcement.  As the AP reported, 1,000 police officers across the nation have lost their badges due to sexual abuse, and yet only a handful face criminal charges or convictions.  Further, Black women find themselves frequent targets of police sexual violence and assault, yet the crisis is swept under the rug because society does not care about violence against Black women.  This was reflected in the dearth of media coverage in the Holtzclaw case.  Even during the night of the verdict,  there was no live coverage from the cable news networks, who chose to focus on Donald Trump and other issues.  Once again, social media disseminated the information, and Black Twitter represented with coverage of this case.

I’m thankful for twitter keeping me in the loop re: holtzclaw – I was flipping to cable news channels and there was nothing.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that there has been silence from women’s groups throughout this trial, and no rallying to the defense of these women who were victimized by a violent cop and a coldblooded, cold-hearted system.  If women face violence in silence, then certainly this is true of Black women. And while attention has been paid to the July 2015 arrest, assault and death of Sandra Bland in police custody in a Texas jail, Sandra Bland is an outlier.  And Sandra Bland’s family has yet to find justice for what these monsters in blue uniforms did to this woman.

And yet, despite the guilty verdicts against Daniel Holtzclaw, we must scrutinize the pathway to justice in this case, and question the roadmap.  This was an all-white, Jim Crow jury, and all prospective Black jurors were rejected.  Moreover, the jury failed to convict in 18 of 36 charges, involving five of the 13 women– leading one to conclude that the defense convinced them that at least some of these Black women were of questionable character and veracity.

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