Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Homecoming Gang Rape Sparks Outrage on BlogHer and Beyond

The story of the 15-year-old girl in Richmond, Ca., gang-raped for more than 2 hours in a darkened part of her high-school's campus during the homecoming dance while a crowd watched really ripped me up. I wrote about this troubling story yesterday after hearing the news, and perhaps this gang rape is one more heinous crime that screams youth violence is out of control. It's rising to the level where we're afraid to watch the news.

I'm not alone in my outrage, horror, grief, and disgust at this rape. At the time of this writing, a post at on the rape has passed 4500 views and accumulates comments reflecting everything from despair to calls for proactive action. The comments rack up as well at The Moderate Voice, and at The Grio. At Huffington Post, comments have surpassed 500.

Throughout the nation, people wonder how a crowd watches anything so horrible.? Psychologists have a name for it, Genovese Syndrome, but it's something our minds refuse to grasp.
"She (the 15-year-old) was raped, beaten, robbed and dehumanized by several suspects who were obviously OK enough with it to behave that way in each other's presence," Lt. Mark Gagan said. "What makes it even more disturbing is the presence of others. People came by, saw what was happening and failed to report it."

Police sources told CBS Affiliate CBS 5 that some of the bystanders laughed as the attack unfolded while others took photos with their cell phones. (from CBS News)
People are asking why can't charges be filed not only against the perpetrators, but the watchers as well; however, California has no law that requires bystanders to call the police if they witness a crime nor any penalty for watching, failing to stop the crime, or cheering on the violence.

Outrage is the word of the day and anger at the rapists, but prayers and concern also go out to the victim of this heinous act. At BlogHer, Lara Colvin from Notions of Identity responded to another commenter, Liz Henry, who suggested readers find a way to help the victim, with the following.
I agree w/Liz Henry: let's help the victim to make sure she has access to resources that will help her get counseling and good healthcare and anything else she needs to deal with this atrocity.

I've emailed the Police of Chief at Richmond, VA [sic, means California not Virginia] Police Dept to see if there is currently a fund for her or if he has suggestions on other ways to help, and I've sent a similar email to the school principal and counseling staff. I'll update when I receive a response. Hopefully, I will. In the meantime, let's keep sending the young woman our collective warm and loving energy in the hopes that it reaches her as she heads down the path of trying to heal this horrific wound. (Laracolvin)
Five people have been arrested, reports CNN. "Police say 3 juveniles, 2 adults are in custody in connection with the crime," per the network, and while the story has been widely reported and documented, for legal reasons it's still called an alleged rape. In addition and as usual in rape cases, some people who are uneducated about the crime of rape, such as some of the 15-year-old's classmates, blame the victim. Even the attitude and language by school administrators early in this story seemed insensitive.

The following video from CNN includes an interview with law enforcement about arrest in the case and information on how the school district is addressing this crime with students and the community.

Finally, perhaps as we expect after news of abominable deeds surface, extremely irate citizens in comments at various blogs and on news reports call for the death penalty for those teens who participated, while others demand that such a deed be classified as a hate crime.



Babz Rawls Ivy said...

We stand by because we have been trained to stand by. Everything in our culture devalues women. Everything in our culture says women are not human...but objects toys, pleasure. Even women are pimps to the selling of ourselves as objects. These children that did this exists because we created them. We allow children to run amuck, because we have run amuck. All our social ills are connected. You can't talk about after school programming, without talking about job readiness, you can't talk about health care if we don't also discuss how and where people live...poverty and hunger. You can't talk about saving children and not talk about the prison complex system. We can't talk about foster care and not talk about poor schools and underpaid teachers. We have become spectators to our lives and the lives of our children. We are all too busy for our communities, churches, synogogues, after-school programs, our lives.

This act of almost unspeakable violence was crafted by Us collectively and until WE have had ENOUGH then things will change.

Lara said...

AMEN, Lovebabz! Brilliant.

msladyDeborah said...

I heard this story while heading out of the door for work yesterday.

WTH is wrong with this whole picture? A gang rape occurs and people who see a young woman being attacked-either walk by or cheer the attackers on? I cannot even begin to take the time to epress my opinion about the sum total of low life that these individuals are in reality.

I cannot for the life of me find it in my imgination to put this picture together. It is one of those visions that my head refuses to even use brain power to create.

What if that had been them? Or a female that they loved or knew personally? Would they turn their heads then? Would they act like it is perfectly natural to see a rape occurring and think nothing of it.

I feel for the young woman who was the victim. She was attacked by every person who did nothing to help her. What a state commentary this is on our society. I hope that the rapist get put under the jailhouse. And that each person who did nothing realizes that they are just as much of a criminal as the rapist they ignored.

Lara said...

Richmond PD replied. Email I received today:

Thank you for your concern for the young woman who was the victim of a brutal assault in our community. You will be glad to know that as of this time, five suspects have been arrested and are in the process of being charged with a number of serious felonies. The victim has been discharged from the hospital, but obviously has a long recovery process ahead of her.

If you would like to donate to the fund specifically set up to benefit this young woman and her family, you may send a check to Richmond High School, 1250 23rd St., Richmond, CA 94804. Checks should be made out to "Richmond High School Student Fund" with "Sex assault victim" on the memo line.

You may also want to consider a contribution to your local rape crisis center since rapes take place every day in communities—both big and small—all over our country.

Thank you for your concern.

Chris Magnus

Richmond Chief of Police


Hi there,

Victim blaming with black rape survivors is nothing new.

The way the story is told is always different when the person who is raped is black and it doesn't matter what age that person is.

Oprah said her own father asked her for details about HOW her uncle (his own brother) violated her... and do the details matter? She was an incest survivor. He is still in a relationship with his brother who has never admitted to his deeds.

None of that is a surprise.

When Mike Tyson said he wanted to "sock" Robin Givens during the Barbara Walters interview, the audience (predominately white and female) laughed out loud. They weren't laughing about O.J. beating Nicole's behind, now were they??

But I digress.

This 15 year old is not viewed as a precious commodity...she is objectified and commodified and dehumanized on many levels.

When Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped (and now we know, sexually assaulted) she had the world's sympathy and concern.


And I do agree with LoveBabz's comment.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!


I don't think that ANYONE should send a check payable to the school!

That is not how funds are set up.

Funds are supervised by the bank and are placed in the name of the student.

Again, this child is being exploited by the school receiving checks! That's a crock. Writing "assault victim" on the memo line DOES NOT mean that a separate account or fund has been set up for this girl.

The parents have no way of knowing who is sending in money if people send checks to the school! Puhleese.

Why are we so naive about these things?

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!