The trial of Daniel Holtzclaw is starting to get a lot of attention locally and on social media. There are even online outcries about how the victims are being treated on the stand. Many are posting under #blackwomenmatter and #DanielHoltzclaw.
Close to a 100 people banded together Tuesday for a morning march to show support for the women testifying against Holtzclaw. There were men and women, black and white, young and old in the crowd chanting “I am her” and “36 counts – we want life” and “black women matter”.
Their chants could even be heard inside the second floor courtroom where Holtzclaw is being tried. The judge told the jury to disregard the chanting, but protest organizers hope their message is heard loud and clear, especially by the victims taking the stand.
“Their character of course is under attack,” said Grace Franklin, who helped organize the march. “Women of color, poor women, women who have things on their history are the most vulnerable in this community, in this city because nobody will believe them.”
Franklin says she is trying to show the victims and their families support both outside and inside the courtroom as well as online. Especially after hearing the defense try to discredit their testimony.
Many of Holtzclaw's accusers have criminal records, including the fifth alleged victim, who testified Tuesday morning. She told the jury at first she was afraid to come forward since she was an ex-con with a history of drug use. She took the stand wearing an orange jail jumpsuit. She is currently incarcerated at the Oklahoma County Jail.
Franklin says that doesn’t mean what they are claiming isn’t true.
“That is being used as a way to say you can't believe them, they're lying - when there's evidence that corroborates their statements,” said Franklin. “So we just want to say we believe you and that a woman who has things in her history is not less valuable.”
Many in the march have also shared their sentiments on social media - speaking out about the trial and why it is not being covered more in depth by national news agencies. Franklin says she thinks she knows why.
“We believe that has to do with the victims. It has to do with them being 13 black women from the poor side of town who have contact with the justice system. If these were any other type of women it would be all over the news,” said Franklin.
“Women of color, poor women, women who have things on their history are the most vulnerable in this community in this city because nobody will believe them.”
But Franklin says she and the others who gathered outside the courthouse do believe them and hope their message of love and support is seen and heard around the globe.
“I think this resonates with a lot of people,” said Franklin. “Even if you don't have a drug history, a lot of people have people in their families who they love and may have had a little bump in the road and were assaulted and weren't believed.”
And Franklin says their group plans to assemble at least one more time towards the end of the trial. She says she will definitely be at the courthouse when the verdict is read.
The Holtzclaw trial is expected to last through November. Holtzclaw is facing 36 felony counts including rape, oral sodomy, sexual battery, burglary, stalking, indecent exposure and procuring lewd exhibition.