OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Today, a historic precedent was set when Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 consecutive years for the rape and sexual assault of 8 Black women in Oklahoma City. Although 18 of the 36 counts were not guilty verdicts, leaving 8 women without justice, this day effectively puts law enforcement on notice that Black women will report, testify and seek justice even in the presence of an all-white jury. Holtzclaw sought out Black women in low income neighborhoods with histories of drug dependency or incarceration because he knew they were less likely to report and less likely to be believed. He was mistaken.
With this sentencing, those officers in power will become more hesitant to abuse the authority entrusted to them by the United States of America and its citizens. Those survivors who tell this story will reclaim some of their own power. They can understand the bravery and courage it takes to stand up for their own bodies. Their testimonies will continue to resonate in the souls of the countless survivors of sexual assault who have yet to come forward or seek healing. The world can value a Black woman, regardless of socioeconomic status or background, as a human being that is afforded the same civil rights as every other member of society. Conversations involving rape culture, sexual assault, intersectionality, and the community can be brought to the table with the confidence of educating, learning, and making positive changes towards the future.
We demand action with law enforcement around the country:
We want a national database of officers who have been disciplined, terminated, charged and convicted of sexual misconduct while acting as or using information from their access to the policy department.
We want every officer to have mandatory training as first responders of sexual assault and domestic violence.
We want a zero-tolerance policy in reference to sexual misconduct enforced in every department across the country.
This is a turning point in our history. We will reflect on the moments where we allowed egregious violations of women who didn’t have voices. We will reflect, as organizations, communities, religious affiliations, and media outlets, on how we did not tend to these injustices with urgency or failed to address them at all. That conversation will change due to action, exposure, and bravery on behalf of the community and the brave survivors that came forward to share their stories. We collectively stood up and screamed to the mountain top with these women to demand justice. We must change the conversation and evolve out of a rape culture into a culture that promotes, enforces and defends the right of all women to be safe in their own communities.
# # #
Grace Franklin, 405-318-1968
Candace Liger, 405-882-1909
Transformation Justice Coalition
African American Policy Forum, email@example.com
National Organization for Women