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Lonnie Franklin Jr.

HBO

When you think of serial killers, names like John Wayne Gacy and Jeffery Dahmer are usually the first to pop into people’s heads. But on Monday night, an HBO documentary attempts to add another name to that list: Lonnie Franklin Jr.

Most have probably never heard of Franklin, but he is the subject of the HBO documentary Tales of the Grim Sleeper, which alleges that for over 25 years, Franklin was involved in over 100 slayings of black women in the area of South Central Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Police Department turned a blind eye to these killings, according to the documentary, even though the evidence was alarming: from eyewitnesses to sketches and even a description of Franklin’s car.

If it was not for the due diligence of neighborhood activists Margaret Prescod and Nana Gyamfi of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, Franklin would probably still be on the streets. Instead, Franklin was arrested in July 2010 and is finally headed to court this summer.

Tales of the Grim Sleeper’s director Nick Broomfield took to the streets of South Central and interviewed those who knew Franklin best. From his “running partners” to people who did “business” with him, but the most provocative person featured in the documentary is Pam Brooks, a former sex worker and drug addict who said she had a run-in with Franklin.

In an interview with The Root, Brooks says she didn’t immediately realize there was something wrong with Franklin, until he propositioned her for sex, but it was her street sense that kept her alive.

Brooks says she still finds it hard to believe that the LAPD turned a blind eye to the killings, but if it wasn’t for Broomfield’s telling the story, no one would know about Franklin, which is why she took part in the documentary.

“They [Broomfield] cared enough about us black people. No one else was concerned. It was something different that I’ve never done,” Brooks stated.

Brooks also stated that the police didn’t care about the women getting killed because a lot of them were addicts and prostitutes.

“They didn’t care about that part of society. It was sad. And to know that he was a man that everyone spoke to was a devastating part,” Brooks said of the LAPD and Franklin.

The LAPD commonly uses the term “NHI” (no human involved) to describe the murders of prostitutes, drug addicts and gang members, according to the documentary. It’s unfortunate that so many people died because their lives did not matter. A killing spree of 25 years and now the trial is starting soon; one can only hope the families of these victims will find closure.

“I’m not God and I know he’s not coming home. He’s going to pay for what he’s done. I feel sorry for him, because he has destroyed a lot of lives. Even his son’s life. I don’t think he’ll ever admit to anything,” Brooks stated.

Tales of the Grim Sleeper airs Monday 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.

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Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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