Oklahoma City Police officer Daniel Ken Holtzclaw has been charged with 16 counts of first degree rape, sexual battery, indecent exposure, stalking, forcible oral sodomy and burglary against seven African American female victims. On September 5th Oklahoma County District Judge Timothy Henderson lowered Holtzclaw’s bail from $5 million to $500,000. Holtzclaw was released Friday after posting a cash bond and will wear a GPS monitor until his trial hearing on September 18th. Holtzclaw is a former football player and the son of a longtime city police officer. He is currently on paid leave. The victims in this case were all black women between the age of 34-58, living in predominantly poor and working class African American communities in Oklahoma’s City Northeast side. Holtzclaw stalked most of these women and capitalized on their fear of arrest to exploit, sexually assault and intimidate them. He manipulated the racist/sexist stereotype of black women as hypersexual, socially expendable prostitutes in order to keep them silent:
“According to a probable cause affidavit included in the charging documents, Holtzclaw stopped a woman walking in the area of Northeast 14th and Jordan on April 24. He located a crack pipe in her property. Instead of arresting her he allegedly took her home, forced her to perform oral sex and then raped her, making the statement, ‘This is better than the county,’ referring to the jail.
Speaking of her client’s reluctance to report the crime, one of the victim’s attorneys stated,“She was so afraid that no one was going to believe her because she’s African-American.”
This campaign of sexual terrorism by a law enforcement officer is similar to the institutional sexual assault and harassment of black women and girls during the Jim Crow era. The recent beating of Marlene Pinnock, a middle-aged African American homeless woman, by a California Highway Patrol officer, and police violence against black women in cities like New York continue to amplify the mistreatment of black women by law enforcement. Shortly after Holtzclaw’s indictment, hundreds of his supporters launched a Go Fund Me campaign (which has since been taken down) and a Facebook page to raise money for his defense and clear his “good name”. They also created a special Twitter hashtag called #FreetheClaw. Non-blacks who commit criminal acts against black victims routinely receive more lenient sentences than when the assailant is African American and the victim is white. Black women have some of the highest rates of sexual assault in the nation. We demand just and equitable treatment of the victims, full prosecution of these heinous acts of sexual violence and immediate removal of Holtzclaw from the Oklahoma City PD.