The website SB Nation published and deleted a sympathetic story on Daniel Holtzclaw, the former Oklahoma City Cop sentenced to 263 years for sexually assaulting just over a dozen women while on duty. The story, “Who Is Daniel Holtzclaw? Predator, Police Office, Linebacker” was posted Wednesday (Feb. 17) and focusses on the softer side of a serial rapist and monster, who from how he’s framed in the piece, was a good kid, and athlete that didn’t make it to the NFL.
The report looks into Holtzclaw’s past as if that somehow excuses his crimes. While his specific pursuit of Black victims –he obviously assumed would be too scared to speak up — plays as a backdrop, the piece is told through the views of his parents Eric and Kumiko Holtzclaw, and other supporters.
An excerpt below frames the tone of the piece, by attempting to humanize a convicted sexual predator and coward who couldn’t control his tears once punished for his crimes:
A short distance away, Holtzclaw’s father, Eric — a long-time police lieutenant back in Enid — sat and held his wife, Kumiko. The couple, who had drained their life savings and retirement to fund their son’s defense, had entered the second-floor courtroom that day with the expectation of a verdict of not guilty. Once their son was free, they planned to take him back to their rural community, where they could somehow begin to piece their lives back together. But in that instant, in the same moment the couple sat in agony and watched the youngest of their three children and only son begin to painfully absorb the blows of the series of guilty verdicts, the vision of a relieved celebration vanished. As their son wept and continued to rock back and forth in his seat, Eric Holtzclaw — the cop who had attempted to remain calm throughout the trial and then the lengthy deliberations — sat defenseless, unable to protect Daniel from harm.
“It’s like someone is killing your son,” he said later.
Noted in the story is Holtzclaw’s friend Cortland Selman an “unlikely ally” who happens to be a “black native of Detroit.” Oddly enough, no matter what race your friends are, that doesn’t make it okay to rape people. But anyway, Selman was in utter shock at the very thought of Holtzclaw’s crimes.
Later in the story, is a theory from another friend that basically views Holtzclaw as a victim of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Yes, you read that correctly:
In Bates’ view, Holtzclaw was swept up in the furor over treatment of black Americans by police officers in other places, turmoil that had already resulted the #BlackLivesMatter movement and sparked riots in places like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, a brewing perfect storm that was only getting worse.
“The emotions were already there and all (the public) needed was a poster child and Daniel came along at the absolute worst time for Daniel,” Bates said. “And he was done.”
No matter the enhanced public scrutiny on police, that doesn’t mean that he had to actually commit crimes against the very people he was hired to serve. Regardless of how the writer tries to dress it , Holtzclaw’s athletic background and NFL dreams, don’t take away from his criminal acts, and honestly he doesn’t even deserve the kind of work that went into this unnecessarily long piece.
All in all, the story is just a bad idea, and insensitive to Holtzclaw’s victims. Weird that SB Nation would even think this was a good idea, but as soon as the outlet started getting dragged, they deleted the offensive story, calling it a “breakdown in the editorial process,” and “a complete failure.”
You can read the full thing here. Hit the flip for reactions.