In an article in last Sunday’s paper a 20 year-old woman claimed she was attacked at knife point by a “black male, approximately 24 years old, about 200 pounds, with short hair…. a zip-up sweatshirt.” The article also included information about how to contact Police or Crime Stoppers (Crime Stoppers has a cash reward of up to $1,000) with any tips. And so the hunt was on for the knife-wielding black man.
The very few Black men who live on the hill are already at risk for being victims of hate crimes, and subjects of racial profiling. Now the buzz was to look out for a generic young black male attacker.
Thanks to the Boulder Police Department, by Monday it was apparent that the woman’s report was false. It ostensibly had something to do with gaining the attention of her ex-boyfriend, and she was issued a ticket.
While I don’t know why the woman chose this lie; what the lie set in motion is historically familiar.
This False report put young black men on University Hill in a vulnerable position. Now they were subject to possible interrogation by the police and suspicion from the community. And it irritated the deep scar of historical trauma – As recently as fifty years ago, the rumor of attempted assault by a black male on a white woman would have evoked the threat of lynching. Parents of black sons at CU worried about their child’s safety.
In terms of women, it fed the myth that women tend to falsify assaults. It is just the opposite: The real numbers of assaults are not reported because women are reluctant to file.
Learning about our history (good and bad), and the racial and gender myths that harm us is crucial to our community.
One Action-One Boulder/Niwot’s Arrow