Rape and Murder

My daughter Chloe was raped and murdered on Thursday, July 15th, 2010. Whatever the words “rape and murder” conjure in your mind, what Francisco Cruz did that evening was probably beyond your imagination’s first guess in its depravity and cruelty.

Her killer was arrested on Saturday, July 18th, 2010, and on Friday, June 17th, 2011 was sentenced to 55 years in prison.

Some of the details of what transpired were in the news, and discussed by her friends, and by many people in the community.

There was a VERY STRONG REACTION from the community I encapsulated then as “Drag him out of jail, before trial, and stone him to death, justice must be served NOW.” This was a reaction of many of Chloe’s friends and family – but it was also the most common reaction among everyone who spoke out loud, including people who did not know her, and only heard about what happened from the friend of a friend. A “mob” mentality was very much in place.

But, that the police took arguably appropriate action to address the overall situation, and that a “system” was taking action in identifiable steps beyond the arrest helped keep people from becoming an actual vigilante mob. And for the most part, the police played a very valuable role, in this case, of finding some semblance of justice.

If you had told many of Chloe’s friends and family in the middle of that episode you supported “defunding the police”, some of them would have been very, very upset.

Right or wrong, the not insignificant number of people who currently feel the police serve and protect them feel the same.

I Can’t Breathe

At some point on 7/15/2020, Chloe would have said “I can’t breathe” – her killer’s first violent act was to use a chokehold until she was unconscious. Then she was choked again, this time to death, as she started to wake up as Francisco was raping her unconscious body.

George Floyd and Eric Garner also said “I can’t breathe” as they were being choked (murdered) by police.

Eric Garner was selling cigarettes one at a time on the street. George Floyd gave a counterfeit $20 bill to a store clerk, but it is not unlikely he didn’t even know it was counterfeit. Chloe was “hanging out”.

The System

Every city, state, and country has a way to deal with people who hurt other people. A system. That system needs to be able to handle a whole spectrum of human behavior.

On one end, a nineteen year old young man chokes a sixteen year old girl unconscious, then rapes her, then chokes her again until her pulse stops, then rapes her dead body again, anally, then stabs her in the neck three times, twisting the knife around trying to get a dead body to bleed. Forty-five gruesome minutes.

On the other end, a man selling loosie cigarettes, or a man who probably unknowingly gave a store clerk a counterfeit $20 bill.

And then there is the actions of Daniel Pantaleo and Derek Chauvin, WITHIN our system of dealing with of bad behavior, which, among other things, is what “Defund the Police” is about. — Maybe a system designed to “watch” isn’t well designed to watch the watchers. As for the rest of what our “police” system does and doesn’t do, most sweeping statements are misguided, and would make whatever doesn’t work worse, if followed to their natural conclusion. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reform the system, but not based on an ideological or knee-jerk reaction.

The Backlash

I’ll guarantee that the community, people, humanity, will demand there be punishment for a rape and murder of a young woman. And having a system with “rules” and “a process” will keep the community’s response from going into torches and pitchforks, or rocks.

And that same system will HOPEFULLY have some sense of “proportionality” for smaller crimes, and just “bad moods”, and 911 calls made out of spite, and overall, hopefully “the system’s” response will hopefully, in part and as a whole, do the best we can with a bad situation, whether the situation is a horrible situation with effects that echo for decades, or something not worth more than just passing attention.

What do we do now?

Okay, so if you DO NOT think the WHOLE current system is doing the best it can to make the best of a bad situation

(I don’t)…

And you have a reaction, to tear the system down…

Just know that a statement like “defund the police” will backfire.

Even GOOD PEOPLE, and EVEN MANY LIBERAL people, want “blood” when there’s a horrific crime. And even though we can’t talk about it honestly, it IS a sliding scale, both in terms of the stupid things that people do, and the system(s) we put in place to deal with human nature. This may seem counter-intuitive, but I’ve put a LOT of thought into how people respond to bad behavior, and I GUARANTEE “defund the police” and what unfolds out of it will result in a worse “system”, not a better one. Y’all need to rethink your wording in the context of the actions of Francisco Cruz that led to my daughter’s death, and the actions of Jeffrey Dahmer, and the actions of Dylan Roof.

[Edit – based on early feedback – I’m making two main points: 1) the “slogan” “Defund the Police” stinks, as far as slogans go, and 2) Attempts to ACTUALLY defund our policing system without a VERY CLEAR and constructive system in place to replace it will badly backfire.]