Thursday, March 27, 2008

The ugliness of identity politics

The Dunbar Village case.

The incident:

On June 18th, 2007, ten black male youths gang-raped a 35 year old woman for three hours and forced her to perform oral sex on her 12-year old son, who was also beaten and doused with household chemicals[2]. The young men not only viciously punched, kicked and sliced the woman and her son with glass objects, but they also blinded her boy by pouring nail polish remover into his eyes.

The young men forced the woman and son to lay naked in a bathtub together, and attempted to set them on fire (they could not find matches). The youths boldly took cell phone pictures of their violent, immoral and sadistic acts. The violence continued for over three hours, and although the woman's neighbors heard her screams, no one called the police or came to her aid. Even after the attack, no one came to their aid and the woman and her son had to walk a mile to a hospital before receiving any help, because the assailants stole her car, and threatened to kill her and her family if she told the authorities.

As of September 3, 2007 only four of the 10 rapists have been arrested for the crime, ranging in age from 14 to 18.

The appeal for help:
Notably, in the case of the NAACP and Al Sharpton's National Action Network, both organizations were repeatedly contacted in 2007 by activists and individuals pleading with them to turn a spotlight on this case and to press for additional action to catch the rapists. In response to a phone call from the authors of the blog What About our Daughters, an NAACP spokesperson responded that they would not be getting involved in the case because "it was outside their mission". Al Sharpton did not respond to numerous requests for a statement or other action until January 2008, when he responded to communication from a Dunbar Village resident and toured the property. Sharpton helped organized a town hall meeting that was scheduled for February 10, 2008. Sharpton, a day before the event and without conferring with or telling the residents, canceled the event

The betrayal:
On Tuesday, March 11, 2008, Al Sharpton and the West Palm Beach NAACPheld a press conference accusing the prosecutor of treating those arrested in this case unfairly. They demanded that the prosecutor offer bail to the youths arrested in this case and not try them as adults, because this was being done by the prosecutor in another gang rape case involving white perpetrators in a different Florida jurisdiction. The NAACP has apparently event sent attorneys to aid those arrested in their defense, this in spite of the heinous nature of the crime, air tight DNA evidence and confessions.

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