Daniel Holtzclaw, Ex-Cop Accused Of Sexually Assaulting 13 Black Women, Will Be Judged By An All-White Jury

On Monday, the trial for Daniel Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City police officer accused of sexually assaulting 13 Black women, began, and by the end of the day on Tuesday, a jury had been selected — eight men, four women, all white. While such racial hegemony would be problematic no matter what, it’s especially troubling given the case’s racial dynamics – Holtzclaw is accused of specifically targeting lower income Black women who’d been in trouble in the past, threatening them with jail time if they didn’t give into and keep quiet about his sexual abuses.

The vast majority of rape survivors who pursue justice against their attackers inevitably end up being put on trial themselves, forced to deal with victim-blaming attacks — if you’ve paid any attention to any rape trial, um, ever, this is clear. However, there is anecdotal and historical evidence that suggests Black women endure this the worst of all, whether it’s Black girls being presented as “fast” or “more mature,” or Black women being stereotyped as overly sexual and/or angry, the implication being that they somehow brought the attack on themselves. It’s because of these racial and gender biases — whether people are aware of them or not — that it’s essential that juries be more diverse.

That’s especially true in cases where the accused plans to exploit those biases are part of his defense, as Holtzclaw’s defense attorney made clear would be part of his strategy in his opening statement. According to Buzzfeed, Attorney Scott Adams said that he would be focusing his defense on the “reputations” of Holtzclaw’s female accusers, who he claims have “street smarts—street smarts like you can’t imagine.” (What exactly he means by that is a little unclear — “street smarts” have a negative connotation to him it seems?) In other words, Holtzclaw’s (alleged, yawn) strategy of targeting women who are less likely to be believed because of their prior histories has been handed over to his defense attorney to finish off. Gross.