African American Policy Forum

Daniel Holtzclaw, the former Oklahoma City police officer convicted on 18 of 36 charges of rape and sexual assault against seven black women and one underage black girl, will be sentenced Jan. 21.

Holtzclaw was found not guilty of similarly horrific crimes against five black women who were not given even the possibility of justice.

The African American Policy Forum—a human rights organization that centers on black women and girls, helmed by Executive Director Kimberle Crenshaw—has joined Oklahoma Artists 4 Justice in dedicating this week to making sure that awareness around the case remains heightened and that lovers of black women and girls remain engaged and energized as we aspire to bring justice in this case to its conclusion.

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Crenshaw, the creator of #SayHerName and #WhyWeCantWait—both critical campaigns that address the marginalization of black women and girls from our communities all the way to the White House—stands with Holtzclaw survivors, “demanding that he serve each count of his sentence separately [potentially 263 years], just as he traumatized each of them individually.”

To that end, AAPF has launched Days of Accountability and Visibility: Oklahoma City.

Check out the details below to see how you can become more involved and be a part of the solution this week:

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Jan. 19: Join the African American Policy Forum’s webinar—“Visibility and Accountability Beyond the Holtzclaw Verdict: Confronting the Sexual Abuse of Black Women by the Police”—at 2 p.m. EST. OKC activists Candace Liger and Grace Franklin will join national advocates including Kimberle Crenshaw and Barbara Arnwine to brief participants on actions they can take to support Holtzclaw’s victims and demand systemic change to our police system.

Jan. 19: Familiarize yourself, your loved ones and your networks with the forms of police violence perpetrated against women of color; read and share “Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women” (pdf) from AAPF and “Law Enforcement Violence Against Women of Color and Trans People of Color” (pdf) from INCITE!

Jan. 20: Join the Days of Visibility Twitter Storm at 1 p.m. EST. Using the hashtags #SayHerName, #BlackWomenMatter and #ItsNotOver, share your story of sexual assault, other stories you know and your thoughts on why the Holtzclaw case matters. Download AAPF’s tool kit (pdf) to help prepare yourself!

Jan. 20: Share a poem, reflection or artistic expression that sheds light on black women’s experiences of sexual assault on Facebook and Twitter. Together we can show that what happened to the OKC 13 was not an anomaly.

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Read a complete list of AAPF’s action items and demands here. Also download the AAPF tool kit to educate yourselves on the Holtzclaw case and the subsequent verdict. 

It is critical that we also move beyond the Holtzclaw verdict and broaden the police-brutality conversation to include sexual violence.

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As AAPF writes in a statement:

Daniel Holtzclaw is not unique: approximately 1,000 officers lost their badges in a six-year period after having engaged in some form of sexual misconduct. Moreover, Holtzclaw’s actions took place in Oklahoma, a state with one of the highest rates of sexual assault and female incarceration in the U.S. Holtzclaw’s trial demonstrated how the criminalization of Black women can be used to justify their dehumanization and abuse at the hands of the state. Using law enforcement status as a badge to rape is a pervasive method for maintaining white supremacy through policing the boundaries of race, class and gender—a method which dates back to slavery.  

Stay engaged. Stay motivated. Demand justice. Join the AAPF Oklahoma organizers and the survivors of Holtzclaw’s brutality in saying that #ItsNotOver until Holtzclaw is serving every one of those 263 years in prison; until black women and girls are centered in social-justice and structural policies that currently marginalize them; and until sexual assault, the second-highest reported police brutality in the nation, is forcefully and comprehensively addressed.