The news: Following the Ferguson shooting of unarmed, black teenager Michael Brown, crowdfunding pages were set up for Brown's family and for Brown's shooter, officer Darren Wilson, with significantly more money being donated to the latter. Now attention is being drawn to another crowdfunding project with a similarly head-scratching premise: defending an Oklahoma City cop accused of raping eight women.
According to the Associated Press, Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, a 27-year-old Oklahoma City police officer, was arrested Aug. 21 under suspicion of sexually assaulting at least eight black women while on patrol. He's since been charged on 16 accounts, including first-degree rape, sexual battery, forcible oral sodomy and indecent exposure and is being held on a $5 million cash bond.
All of which makes it hard to understand why a GoFundMe page raised over $7,000 in Holtzclaw's defense.
A social justice campaign? Since his arrest, Holtzclaw's family and friends have set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to raise awareness and to finance his defense. While GoFundMe has taken the campaign down since then, the fact remains that perfect strangers were willing to donate to Holtzclaw's even before the facts of the case came out in trial.
"Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, a 27-year-old Oklahoma City Police Officer, not only deserves, but is required by the law, to be given a presumption of innocence," the now-defunct GoFundMe page reportedly read. "The pursuit of justice will be lengthy, but with the support of family, friends, and the community, Daniel Holtzclaw will be vindicated and justice will prevail."
While it can't be denied that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and deserves a fair defense, the women who accused Holtzclaw deserve the same rights — yet there isn't a catchy T-shirt campaign or fundraising effort for them.
We won't know the details of the case, or how Holtzclaw stands in the court of public law, until the case actually goes to trial. In the meantime, if you really want to donate to a good cause, you can check out the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network and the Joyful Heart Foundation.