I know the entire city exhaled this week when Bernard Jackson was arrested, charged with rapes from the 1980’s, and has been all-but-officially named as a suspect in the recent rash of rapes in, Waldo/Brookside. It would appear that there is strong (DNA) evidence that ties him to those cold-case rapes, and his own record speaks to his violent history as a predator. The Kansas City Police Department simply can’t comment or divulge anything about the current cases, but I hope the DNA evidence is there to tie him to those attacks as well. I want him to be guilty.
I also believe in the system. Flawed as it is. Innocent until proven guilty. In a court of law, not the media. Or at midnight in a jail cell. It kind of squicked my stomach, how KCTV5 proudly interviewed Jackson’s cellmate who gave him the midnight beat-down that sent him to the hospital his first night in jail. My heart, my gut, my empathy for the women who were attacked and who were beaten by this man, all collectively said, “Yeah! Know how it feels, motherfucker, to be attacked yourself.” I was a volunteer rape crisis counselor for years, and it is one of the burning causes inside me that I rail against. The man who perpetrated these rapes deserves to feel unsafe, feel battered, feel like his safety has been taken away. But at the same time I felt that tiny exhilaration, my mind, my intellect, my values cringed. And I know to even state this puts me in the minority. Our society is a tv-news-fed, pop-culture, twitter-riding mass of instant judgment and categorizations. Remember, I was raised by a liberal hippie who always cautioned me to step back and think. Assess. Don’t follow the mob. Stand apart. Vigilante justice is not part of a civilized, advanced society. Everyone who’s seen CSI knows how powerful scientific evidence can be, so let’s sit back and wait (it takes longer than 20 minutes to get those results), and let’s not let down our guard completely, and let’s allow our system to work. I have the utmost respect for the detectives and crime lab folks who have devoted their lives to this case for the past several months. The dedication – the involvement at all levels (inside word is that the FBI has been all over this as well), is to be commended. And a breath of relief for the women who have waited tens of years for this man to be brought to justice. May it be the same for the women in these current cases. And let’s ratchet down the sensationalism. It’s a disservice to the women who are still waiting to hear if Bernard Jackson is going to be charged in their cases.