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Thread: Erykah Badu Will Donate Concert Funds to Help Process Rape Kits in Detroit

  1. #1
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Erykah Badu Will Donate Concert Funds to Help Process Rape Kits in Detroit

    Erykah Badu Will Donate Concert Funds to Help Process Rape Kits in Detroit


    Erykah Badu has announced plans to donate a large portion of the proceeds from her concert at Detroit’s Chene Park Amphitheater on August 12 to the African American 490 Challenge, an organization seeking to test the remainder of the 11,300 untested rape kits that were found abandoned in a Detroit police station in 2009.


    Since their discovery, approximately 10,000 of the rape kits have been tested—thanks largely to community activism and fundraising. The remaining kits each cost $490 each to process, leading to the foundation of the African American 490 Challenge, an organization that—in association with Enough SAID (Sexual Assault in Detroit)— is seeking “to raise private-sector funding to test these rape kits, investigate the crimes and prosecute the resulting cases, thus securing justice and closure for victims and ensuring a safer community for everyone.”


    According to the Detroit Free Press:



    Shahida Mausi, president and CEO of the Right Productions, said the 490 Challenge would get $5 from each ticket sale as well as the proceeds from a $100-per-ticket reception before the concert and $1,000-per-person VIP reception with Badu after the show. Organizers said tickets to both receptions are 100% tax deductible.


    Organizers, who include the Circle, a local black women’s social issues group, hope to raise $50,000 toward the 490 Challenge’s goal of raising $657,090 by year’s end. The 490 Challenge has raised about $250,000 so far from efforts that included a fund-raising competition between black sororities and a contest last year between supporters of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.


    “Together, we stand for justice,” Mausi said. “We are honored to make Chene Park the site for great artistry supporting a great mission.”

    African American 490 Challenge president Kim Trent remarked:


    “It should come as no surprise that an artist with Erykah Badu’s impressive history of social consciousness would join forces with the black women leaders of Detroit to address this important social issue. We are very excited that she is lending her considerable talent to our cause.”

    Kym Worthy, the heroic Detroit prosecutor who’s been fighting tirelessly over the past several years to get the forgotten kits processed, lauded Badu’s contribution to the cause, saying, “Everyone knows that Erykah Badu is a major, major talent in the music and song-writing industry. For her to lend her name, talent and time to this work is nothing short of a miracle. Justice for these forgotten sexual assault victims has been given a phenomenal assist.”


    Tickets for Badu’s Chene Park show are available on Ticketmaster.
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  2. #2
    Elite Member Brah's Avatar
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    That's amazing, truly.
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    Silver Member weathered1's Avatar
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    That such an unfathomable number of rape kits go untested (or are even just thrown in the trash) is as infuriating as it is sickening. Good for her for using her platform to bring attention to this and to collect funds to try to combat it.
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    That's just amazing, and so upsetting so many went untested. It makes you wonder how many will be from repeat offenders?
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    Elite Member Kittylady's Avatar
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    That's wonderful, but so bloody infuriating that ordinary people are having to raise money to have these kits tested. This should have been a priority issue from the moment they were found!
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    Like a lot of cities, Detroit is probably short of funds and ham stringed because of financial commitments to fund police pensions and pensions for other city workers. But to just dump the rape kits and not make ANY effort to process them is simply inexcusable. Bravo to Erykah Badu for making this an issue and donating funds to make it happen.
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    I didn't know what this was referring too...

    This Impossibly Badass Prosecutor and 'Rape Kit' Advocate Is Our New Hero
    Katie J.M. Baker
    8/28/12 11:00am
    Filed to: Rape
    52.6K
    2

    Plagued by rape fatigue? Meet Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy, the woman who's been leading the charge to sort through more than 11,000 untested police "rape kits" since 2009. Worthy is hellbent on getting the kits, which contain evidence of rape such as semen and saliva, logged, tested, and entered into the national DNA database — and, if it wasn't for her dedication, the women whose kits have been ignored for years would have no support at all.
    Rape Fatigue and You: When There's Just No Anger Left

    Since around 2pm on Monday, I've felt like a contestant on a sadistic Japanese game show,…
    Read more

    You'd think that everyone could agree that prosecuting serial rapists should be a priority, but Worthy's had to fight hard over the past few years, not only to get funding to test the kits but to get the police department to care about them in the first place. She was instantly outraged when she heard that there were thousands of untouched kits languishing in a dusty police warehouse, but the police chief didn't take action until someone in his department leaked the news to the press. "No one really paid attention to what I was saying and yelling about 'til about four months in," she told The Daily Beast's Abigail Pesta. Finally, the public took notice, and Worthy's team received a $1 million federal grant to start testing the kits.

    Worthy's colleagues "literally had to dust [the kits] off" and "physically go through and open them to get the name of the victim, the date that it happened," she said. But, as expected, it was more than worth the hard work: the team identified twenty serial rapists — meaning they had been involved in at least one other rape case — from the first 153 kits tested this summer, and found DNA matches for another 38 suspects. Unfortunately, the DNA matching is only the beginning; all the cases still need to be re-investigated (or, too often, investigated for the first time), old-school detective style. But hopefully the work they've accomplished will lead to more money — Worthy says she only has funds for about 1,600 of the 11,303 rape kits — and more attention from police. Here's just one example that proves the testing of kits is crucial:

    In one especially horrific case, Worthy says, a convicted rapist named Shelly Andre Brooks had raped and murdered five women after raping a woman whose kit was just recently entered into the database through Worthy's initiative. If that rape kit had been tested and entered into the database sooner, the man could have been caught sooner-and five women's lives could have been saved. "That's why it's so horrible, this whole thing," she says.

    Here are some other fun facts about the anti-rape superhero, who deserves a zillion awards and a major motion picture based on her life: she's a single mother of three, the first African-American and first woman to be Wayne County prosecutor, and famous for indicting former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2008.

    A not-as-fun fact: Worthy was raped thirty years ago, while jogging around her law-school apartment complex. She didn't report the rape. Now, she wants to help those who do, and develop a blueprint for cities across the country to follow in her footsteps


    Untouched, Thousands Of Rape Kits Await Justice

    April 21, 20122:05 PM ET
    Heard on All Things Considered

    NPR Staff
    Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
    Carlos Osorio/AP

    In 2009, prosecutors in Detroit discovered more than 11,000 boxes of potential evidence in rape cases left completely unprocessed. Row upon row of what are called "rape kits" remained untouched on shelves in a police evidence room for years. No DNA evidence was extracted; no DNA evidence was used to catch or prosecute the assailants.

    Since then, Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy has lead the effort to sort through those 11,000 rape kits and to find the funding to get them processed.

    "I don't know if they were just forgotten, I don't know if they were ignored, I don't know if they were deliberately put there," Worthy tells weekends on All Things Considered's Guy Raz, "I don't know any of that. All I know is that they were there and that we had to do something about it."

    Worthy arranged for a federal grant of one million dollars, but says that didn't allow her team to do much more than sort the evidence, match them up with police reports, and begin a database. To process all of the kits, Worthy estimates, would cost about $15 million.

    "If we had the funding to examine and have all of these rape kits tested, we would do that. But right now ... we have to categorize and prioritize the cases that we are looking at first."

    So far, just two of the cases are set for trial.

  8. #8
    Elite Member Novice's Avatar
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    Twenty-one serial rapists have been identified in a massive investigation led by Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy—and her manhunt has only just begun.

    Worthy is leading a charge to investigate more than 11,000 police “rape kits”—which contain swabs of semen, saliva, and other evidence of rape—so the rapists can be brought to justice. The thousands of rape kits had piled up in a dusty police warehouse in Detroit for years, ignored, until one of Worthy’s colleagues stumbled upon them in 2009. Since then, an outraged Worthy has been fighting to get the kits logged, tested for DNA, and then entered into the national DNA database.

    The logging of the kits alone has been a staggering project. “There were no police reports attached to the kits,” she says, explaining that her colleagues “literally had to dust them off” and “physically go through and open them to get the name of the victim, the date that it happened.” A federal grant for $1 million—the first of two such grants of its kind, with the other going to Houston—has helped her get all the kits logged, she says, but the grant won’t cover the DNA testing of all 11,303 kits. “Unfortunately money’s not falling from the sky,” she says.

    Rape-kit pileups aren’t just a problem in Detroit. In recent years, cities across the country have reported mountains of kits—11,000 in San Antonio, 1,200 in Albuquerque, 4,000 in Houston—according to Sarah Tofte, who has studied the national debacle for the advocacy group Human Rights Watch. Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of kits are languishing in police warehouses.

    When Worthy learned of the Detroit pileup from the colleague who discovered it by chance, she says, she demanded immediate action from the police chief at the time. “No one really paid attention to what I was saying and yelling about till about four months in,” she says. People finally took notice, she says, when someone in the police department leaked the news to the press.

    Twenty of the 21 serial rapists were identified from the first 153 rape kits officially tested for DNA and entered into the national database known as CODIS, or the Combined DNA Index System, this summer. In other words, these 20 men had been involved in at least one other rape case, according to the database. The twenty-first serial rapist was identified from earlier tests on a random sampling of kits, conducted in order to do a broader statistical analysis of the project.

    In one especially horrific case, Worthy says, a convicted rapist named Shelly Andre Brooks had raped and murdered five women after raping a woman whose kit was just recently entered into the database through Worthy’s initiative. If that rape kit had been tested and entered into the database sooner, the man could have been caught sooner—and five women’s lives could have been saved. “That’s why it’s so horrible, this whole thing,” Worthy says.
    Rapists, Beware: Detroit Prosecutor IDs 21 Attackers in ‘Rape Kit’ Probe - The Daily Beast

    In addition to the serial rapists, the DNA evidence in the batch of 153 kits has yielded another 38 DNA matches in the database, Worthy says. All of the cases now need to be investigated. “People think when you get a CODIS hit, we can just go out and arrest that person,” she says. “But a DNA hit is never the whole case. We have to go find the witnesses, do the old-fashioned kind of investigation. They’re cold cases—they’ve just been sitting there. We have to reinvestigate all these cases.” She adds, “I say ‘reinvestigate,’ but some were never investigated properly, frankly.”

    Worthy says she has funds right now to cover tests for about 1,600 rape kits—a small chunk of the 11,303 kits in all. “It’s very troubling,” she says. “Every day cases are pouring in as well. We need to increase staff. We need more funds. I’m calling it a pandemic—you have this many people running around.”

    Part of the reason for the national rape-kit clog is the price of testing the kits. Each kit can cost an average of $1,200 to $1,500 to test, as technicians need to extract and separate DNA from two people—the victim and the assailant—from a swab, says Tofte. However, slim resources aren’t always the issue; she says that often the kits are just a low priority for police. The arrest rate for rape, 24 percent, has barely budged in the past three decades, she says, noting that it’s not because many cases are unsolved but uninvestigated.

    Still, some progress has been made. For instance, says Tofte, Los Angeles has nearly eliminated a backlog of 12,500 kits, while New York City managed to get through a backlog of 16,000 kits and then adopted a policy of testing every kit entered into evidence. In addition, several rape-kit reform bills have been introduced in Congress. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), for one, is pushing for an act called SAFER, or Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry, aimed at reducing the national backlog.

    In Detroit, Worthy’s project has already yielded one rape conviction this past spring and an upcoming trial this fall, thanks to the early study of the random sampling of kits. A jury found Antonio Jackson guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in May; he received a sentence of 10 to 30 years, according to Worthy’s office. Eric Taliaferro has a trial set for November.
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    Worthy says she hopes to create a blueprint through her project for cities nationwide.

    A single mother of three, Worthy began her legal career in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in 1984, later becoming the first African-American to serve as a special assignment prosecutor. In 1994 she was elected to the Wayne County Circuit Court, where she presided over hundreds of felony cases. In 2004 she became the Wayne County prosecutor, the first African-American and first woman to hold the post. She is perhaps best known for indicting Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, long accused of corruption, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2008. He served jail time after pleading guilty to reduced charges and now faces another trial.

    Some 30 years ago, Worthy was a victim of rape when she was a law-school student at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Attacked from behind while out on a jog around her apartment complex one night, she didn’t report the rape. “Things were different then,” she told Newsweek and The Daily Beast earlier this year. “And I was young.”

    Today she has a much different perspective, calling that decision many years ago “all justification and rationalization.” Ultimately, she says, the attack made her stronger—and more determined to seek justice for people who do report their rapes
    Kittylady and witchcurlgirl like this.

  9. #9
    Elite Member Kittylady's Avatar
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    Twentyone serial rapists and five murders from the tiny number that they have been able to test so far? That is truly horrific! This fundraising campaign needs more publicity and more support as a matter of priority. Anyone who has a female in their life that they love and care about should get behind this, pronto, because rape doesn't respect age or race or social status and rapists, like any other member of the general population, can travel to where any of us are when they should be rotting in prison.
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