The trial of Daniel Holtzclaw, a former Oklahoma City police officer charged with 36 counts of rape, sexual battery, and forcible oral sodomy of 13 black women, began on Tuesday. But there’s one glaring problem: there are no black women on the jury. In fact, there are no black people at all.
Holtzclaw worked for the city for three years. While on duty, he targeted poor black women with criminal records. According to Police Chief Bill Citty, Holtzclaw preyed on the victims by initiating traffic stops or approaching women for jaywalking.
“Traffic stops, some of the individuals were actually just walking,” the chief admitted in 2014. “Walking in their neighborhood and they were stopped, you know, searched, threatened in some way with arrest or something to that extent. And as a result of that, actually coerced them into providing sexual favors to him.”
One of those women was 17-years-old when Holtzclaw raped her. The anonymous teen had an outstanding warrant for trespassing, which the officer used as a reason to approach her in front of her mother’s house. Holtzclaw allegedly said that the girl was also concealing drugs, before he groped her breasts, pulled down her underwear, and raped her on her mother’s porch.
Holtzclaw, a former college football star, maintains his innocence. All of the alleged victims will come forward and testify during the trial.
— 🔮سانيا (@SaniaTaja) November 4, 2015
#DanielHoltzclaw jury is all white.
Whole damn system is guilty.
— ashley yates (@brownblaze) November 3, 2015
An all white jury was selected in the trial against #DanielHoltzclaw, the officer who sexual assaulted 13 Black women. ALL white.
— zellie (@zellieimani) November 4, 2015
If Holtzclaw is convicted it will be because of the messages & DNA. Not because the jurors suddenly decided Black women were credible.
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) November 3, 2015
Racial bias in the jury selection process is at the center of a Supreme Court case that was heard on Monday. Four potential jurors in a capital punishment case in Georgia — all of whom are black — were struck from the jury pool. Evidence showing that the four were explicitly disqualified because of their race surfaced later on. Before that, an all-white jury sentenced the defendant to die.
It is illegal to eliminate potential jurors on the basis of their race, but discrimination in the selection process is a common problem across the country.