Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Sexual assault; racism; police brutality. Video may begin to play automatically at link.]

An Oklahoma City police officer has been arrested after allegations he sexually assaulted multiple women while on duty:
Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, 27, a three-year veteran of the Oklahoma City Police Department, was arrested [Thursday] on complaints of rape, forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery and indecent exposure. He was being held in the Oklahoma County jail in lieu of $5 million bail.

The arrest was announced at a short-notice 4 p.m. news conference featuring Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.

Holtzclaw is accused of stopping women — some as they walked through neighborhoods — and threatening them with arrest, Citty said. Police said Holtzclaw forced women to expose themselves, fondled the women, and in at least one instance, [raped] a woman, Citty said.

...Investigators have received statements from six women, and one woman is scheduled to provide a statement, Citty said. The chief said all the victims are black women between the ages of 34 and 58.
Police suspect that there are more victims, whom they have yet to identify.

I am thinking about what's happening in Ferguson, right now, and how protesters are being arrested for walking, and how the killing of Michael Brown began with Officer Darren Wilson harassing him for walking in the street, and how residents of Ferguson are speaking out about the harassment they get all the time just walking down the street, and AG Eric Holder talking about being stopped because he was running down the sidewalk to catch a movie, and all the stories I've ever heard about black people being stopped by cops and threatened with arrest for literally doing nothing, and I have to think it's not a coincidence that Holtzclaw's victims were all black women.

Because most white women aren't entrained to understand from the day we're born that the police can arrest you for nothing. The threat of arrest for nothing has to be believed.

And the history of letting cops harass black people, and threaten them with arrest for nothing, and arrest them for nothing, and disbelieving them when they say they weren't doing anything illegal, all conspired to make Holtzclaw's threat meaningful to black women in a way it might not have been for most white women.

Which is not to suggest non-black women haven't been exploited this way. They have. My point is that Holtzclaw chose victims he perceived as most likely to be intimidated by a threat of arrest for nothing and least likely to want to interact with the police to report him.

(Whooooooops. Someone, some very brave woman, reported him.)

If anyone's in the position to understand people's relationships with the cops, to exploit it, it's a police officer. And no one is more intimately familiar with the rape culture, and how to exploit it to his advantage, than a rapist.

Racism is part of the rape culture. Which victims can be intimidated in what ways. Which victims are most likely to be believed.

That is something the police need to address. That is, if they can tear themselves away from reminding us Not All Police Officers:
Citty said the case angered and disturbed him, and he praised his detectives for their work in identifying additional victims.

"Trust is something that we are constantly having to work on," Citty said. "When something like this happens, I have to hope that most of the community realizes that our officers, 99.9 percent of them, are trustworthy, and when something like this happens, our officers take this very personally."
See, here's the thing, Chief Citty: If any woman, of any color, can be coerced into a sexual assault by the threat of arrest, because she reasonably calculates that it's safer to "let" herself be assaulted than roll the dice with the police force as a framed suspect, 99.9% of your officers aren't trustworthy. I can absolutely promise you that.

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