I found out about the Daniel Holtzclaw case on Twitter a few weeks ago when the all-White jury had been selected. And last night, on Twitter, I scrolled and refreshed in a daze as news that the verdict had arrived hit my timeline. I was stuck in limbo, prepping for the worst. The media had barely bothered to cover the case. It seemed like the victims were the wrong color for national coverage. Things looked very grim and I was highly doubtful that justice would be served. I set the bar low. This had become a regular practice of mine over the past couple of years. Court actions seem to have a way of favoring the men in blue.
But not this time around.
Last night, I watched the live-stream video of the verdict in disbelief as the man who stood accused of 36 counts of rape was found guilty on 18 of those charges. Even as he wept in disbelief, I, myself, could hardly believe what was happening. This monstrous man had allegedly taken advantage of 13 Black women ranging in ages, from 17 to 57. These were women of color, some who had found themselves on the wrong side of the law next to a man who turned their situations into an opportunity to commit heinous acts that would scar them always. And he did it because he thought nobody would care about his victims. Because he has obviously experienced a reality where Black women are without worth. But last night, he learned a lesson, and hopefully, so did any other figure of authority who dares to use their position against a disadvantaged person.
And as I process his verdict, I think about the world we live in. A world where as a Black woman, I have been trained to believe that there will be no justice for people who look like me and that our lives will remain constantly undervalued. While this verdict is considered a one-off by some, I choose to look at it like this: On December 10, an all-White jury in Oklahoma convicted a former police officer of abusing the bodies of numerous Black women on his 29th birthday.
Nothing will stop the damage that has been done by his disgusting actions: rape, sexual battery, and sodomy. A guilty verdict and a lot of jail time will not undo the assaults inflicted upon these women, the trauma they deal with, the PTSD they may struggle with, and the memory that will always hang heavy in their minds of their abuse and being preyed upon.
While I rejoice that justice was served, I also hope that this sends a message to the next person who thinks they can get away with cruel acts while donning police blues. Maybe, just maybe, they will think about Daniel Holtzclaw weeping for the life he’s lost on the day meant to celebrate his birth. Perhaps, that flicker of a thought will stop another person from hurting someone else. I will hold onto this single kernel of hope for all its worth because I really want this verdict to mean something. I will hold onto it because, for a tenth of a second last night, I had a short respite from the hopelessness I feel when it comes to the justice system and encountered a fleeting moment of safety. I liked the way it felt, all foreign and warm to my weary Black body.
Next month, after he is sentenced, Daniel Holtzclaw will wish for the same fleeting moment of safety that I felt last night. And may it always be just outside of his grasp.