For 22 years, Pamela Smith has begged for justice. Starting Friday, she’s not begging any more; she’s demanding.
Smith, her supporters and two members of the Kansas City Chapter of the New Black Panther Party protested outside the Tulsa County Courthouse on Friday afternoon, alleging a massive cover-up by local, state and federal law enforcement in neither fully investigating nor prosecuting a rape complaint she made against a former Oklahoma Department of Public Safety employee in 1997.
“Women of color in the state of Oklahoma do not see justice,” Smith said. “It’s powerful men in high positions and state officials that’s raping and torturing black women. When black women call out for help, our cries fall on deaf ears. They turn a blind eye.”
Smith claimed she was raped and sexually assaulted with a glass salt shaker while an inmate at the Tulsa Community Correctional Facility working as a janitor in a work-release program for area driver’s license testing offices. After filing a police report, Smith said she was asked to identify the salt shaker used in the assault and was assured by investigators with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety it would be taken in for evidence.
However, the salt shaker has since been lost, Smith said. No criminal charges were filed, but Smith petitioned for a grand jury several times and to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.
“I was born at night but it damn sure wasn’t last night,” Smith said. “I’m gonna get my justice if I have to go to every dog and pony show.”
The New Black Panther Party announced in a news release Thursday its members would be in Oklahoma to support Smith’s efforts for justice.
Tamara Jones, the Kansas City chapter’s minister of justice, said more members would arrive over the weekend and be at several Tulsa-area events before marching at the state Capitol on Monday.
“It’s been 22 years and things have been silent,” Jones said. “No more silence. We break the silence today. Enough of your silence, Oklahoma. Enough of your injustice, Oklahoma. I stand in place of Imam Akbar of the New Black Panther Party, and there are more coming, and we demand justice for Pamela Smith.”
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