Richmond High Gang Rape Update: The Kids Are Pissed Off

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I’m glad to hear that many Richmond High kids are upset about how their school has been made ground zero for grave misbehavior. But the adults–parents and school administrators–have long abrogated responsibility, whether it has to do with raising their children or slow-poking setting up security cameras and better lighting around the school.

While the victim rested, public dialogue about the crime and its origins raged in Richmond, and across the country. Students held a rally in support of the victim at El Cerrito High, while dozens of students and teachers gathered outside Richmond High School on Wednesday afternoon, large signs hanging on the walls behind them, “What about the good things?” and “Richmond cares!”

West Contra Costa school board members planned a meeting to discuss safety issues on Wednesday night. The district has drawn fire over the on-campus assault, its perceived sluggishness to add long-promised safety features to Richmond High, such as security cameras and new fencing.

“I’m devastated” about the rape, Richmond High senior Norma Bautista said. “We are not criminals. We are the future leaders. We are going to make a change. Everything they say about us — that we’re animals, that we’re not a community — We are a community. Why are they focusing on the negativity?”

Young sister, you are not animals and you are a community. But this kind of dysfunction and negativity sells. It proves to others that your lives are cheap because some of you act cheap. The horror of this act cannot be ignored. It’s reached Chinese and other Asian media now.

More to the point, though, this kind of disrespect of women and girls has got to stop. It cannot be ignored in order to justify the normalcy of everyone else.

Teacher Lorna McCllelan said the city and the school are being “portrayed as a community that doesn’t care about violence. Our community recognizes that this is a problem, and we are taking steps to address it. My students are not criminals. They are amazing individuals who overcome impossible challenges.”

I totally believe that, but posting or recording fighting or acts of vandalism on YouTube or even if the perps could, keeping or posting pictures and video of the rape of the girl, is wrong and points to a consistent picture of dysfunction among the children and youth of Richmond, California. And that needs to change. Sickness and dysfunction doesn’t need to be promoted on YouTube or other media. That’s not you. Show the media and the world the true face of Richmond High, but also do not ignore the fact that disrespect of women and girls has got to change.

There’s also been a revision of the facts about what happened that Friday night. There were several people who reported the attack. The victim hadn’t called her father yet to pick her up:

Police say the victim left the dance about 9:30 p.m. and walked north on 23rd Street, intending to phone her father for a ride home. But before she did, a classmate called to her from behind a chain-link fence that separates a campus courtyard from the street.

“Her friend called to her, then hopped the fence and escorted her” up Emeric Avenue to a low gate that led into a campus parking lot, Lt. Mark Gagan said.

They joined up with a group of other teens and young adults hanging out and drinking in the poorly lit courtyard.

The victim drank a large amount of brandy in a short amount of time while socializing, police said, then collapsed. Someone dragged her to a bench, where several people stripped her, beat her, stole her jewelry and other belongings, and raped her.

The sexual assault continued for about two hours, detectives estimate, with several men and boys taking part, possibly including some who arrived after the attack began, as word spread.

News of the ongoing rape eventually reached Raul Rubio from passers-by, as he stood on a corner with friends about a block from campus. After verifying the claim, he went to his girlfriend’s nearby home, and she called 911.

“That could easily have been their sister, their mom,” said Atianna Gibbs, one of a group of friends and recent Richmond High graduates who reported the attack. “Nobody deserves that.”

Richmond police spent the next four days interviewing dozens of teens and young adults, leading them to the suspects. Detectives have recovered some of the victim’s property, including her cell phone, Detective Ken Greco said.

Now, not only are people making connections to the New Bedford, MA rape case that spawned the Academy Award-winning film, The Accused, starring Jodie Foster, but to the awful rape and murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City some 45 years before. The incident spawned the terms, bystander effect, and Genovese syndrome.

Criminology and psychology experts say there could be a variety of reasons why the crime wasn’t reported. Several pointed to a problematic social phenomenon known as the bystander effect. It’s a theory that has played out in lynchings, college riots and white-collar crimes.

Under the bystander effect, experts say that the larger the number of people involved in a situation, the less will get done. “If you are in a crowd and you look and see that everyone is doing nothing, then doing nothing becomes the norm.” explains Drew Carberry, a director at the National Council on Crime Prevention.

Carberry said witnesses can be less likely to report a crime because they reinforce each other with the notion that reporting the crime isn’t necessary. Or, he says, witnesses may think another person in the crowd already reported the incident. The responsibility among the group becomes diffused.

“Kids learn at a young age when they observe bullying that they would rather not get involved because there is a power structure,” Carberry adds.

The phrase bystander effect was coined in the 1960s after people watched or heard a serial killer stalk and stab a woman in two separate attacks in the Queens neighborhood of New York.

Kitty Genovese struggled with the attacker on the street and in her building. She shrieked for help and was raped, robbed and murdered. When witnesses in the building were questioned by police about why they remained silent and failed to act, one man, according to the 1964 New York Times article that broke the story, answered, “I didn’t want to be involved.”

Though the number of people who saw or heard Genovese struggle was eventually disputed, her case still became symbolic of a kind of crowd apathy that psychologists and social scientists call the “Genovese syndrome.”

~ by blksista on October 28, 2009.

7 Responses to “Richmond High Gang Rape Update: The Kids Are Pissed Off”

  1. the total omission of the victims race compared to the perpetrators is rather glaring. every media outlet is following the pc rule of not saying a word when its a white girl. if this were a black girl and there were whites involved they would be screaming hate crime. but now? silence…very odd silence. rape whitey? that kind of hate is fine. the silence speaks for itself.


    • You racist puke. You and your lot get off my blog.

      So it’s not enough that rape is a hate crime, period, no matter what color she is?

      Read this, idiots, before you start going off about how put upon white people are.

      And this, too, from the Department of Justice.

      The omission of the woman or girl’s name alone is to help her retain her dignity and to keep her or her family from being harassed, humiliated or threatened. Particularly, if she is underage. That was something which was instigated a decade or so ago. The media follows it, or they would be accused of fomenting lynch law in certain cases.

      If these beastly excuses for human life had called her all sorts of racial slurs during the rape, then it would have been identified as a hate crime.

      And let’s get this straight, according to the DoJ stats:

      The U.S. Department of Justice compiles statistics on crime by race, but only between and among people categorized as black or white. There were 111,490 white and 36,620 black victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005. Out of the 111,490 cases involving white victims, 44.5% (49,613) had white offenders and 33.6% (37,461) had black offenders, while the 36,620 black victims had a figure of 100% black offenders, with a 0.0% estimation for any other race based on ten or fewer sample cases.


  2. I agree. Great post. I have cried every morning on the way to work thinking about this. Crying for the girl, yes, but crying even more for what we are doing as a community/society to raise boys that would participate in this. Even if Peter WAS walking by as his family claims– he did not do anything about it, and beyond the question of if he should be prosecuted for his alleged innocence in the rape itself, WHY IS IT OK FOR HIM TO WALK BY?? Parents, teachers, community members– we are ALL culpable, because that poor young woman’s life will never be the same again, but neither will any of the boys involved. What can we all do to ensure we don’t lose any more boys either, because if all those boys could stand and watch and/or participate, they were lost.

    Don’t take this as letting them off the hook for their actions– I just keep thinking that every one of those boys was a baby or toddler at some point who had to learn that it was ok to stand by (or join in) while someone was being raped. What can we all do to support our boys AND girls better, because clearly there were/are some breakdowns in these areas.


  3. great post. very thorny issues need to be addressed – you’ve given a voice to these. i am so distressed to read that the female members of one of the accused (peter’s family) are proclaiming his innocence – on the grounds that he was only walking by. yes, as the only black defendant he is in a precarious position, but do these women not see the absolutely powerless position of the young victim? and were there more black journalists would i read something other than the peters family plans of a lawsuit against false allegations based on racism? since these are more recent developments and i’ve only recently discovered your blog, what cha think?


  4. This is frenzied, mob torture. It has nothing to do with sex.

    It tears my heart out to think of this girl, her body wounded, her trust destroyed.

    And all because these boys were probably just bored. Unbelievable. How could they destroy someone’s life like this.


  5. I have not been able to write about this. Every time I think about it or hear another media report my heart literally aches. This poor poor child. I cannot for the life of me understand how people could stand there and watch her be abused in this. When people speak about a post feminist world they need to think of incidents like this. To be a woman in this world is hard.


    • I know that’s right, Renee. And yet, we’ve got to talk about this. And these children have got to know that this kind of behavior is very, very, wrong.


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