Estimated reading time: 11 minute(s)
Originally published 3.5.12
A group of Black men from various organizations sent a clear message to those preying on women in the Houston community: Weâ€™re not going to stand for it!
â€œWe want to raise the antenna of the community like never before about the issue of rape, abduction and sexual assault of women and girls in this city,â€ said Deric Muhammad, during a press conference on March 4 at the corner of Old Spanish Trail and Scott St in the Third Ward area.
â€œIt seems as though every day a different woman is being raped, ravaged, abducted and sexually assaulted. It seems that it is open season on women. So we want to send a clarion message to women in this city. The city of Houston and Harris County is not a safe place for you. Weâ€™re declaring that today.â€ said Muhammad, who is a member of the Nation of Islamâ€™s Ministry of Justice.
Referring to a recent cover story printed in the Houston Forward Times, Muhammad told the press that as of December 2011 the Houston Police Department has 6,663 untested rape kits sitting in cold storages. Yes, untested!
What is a rape kit? Following a sexual assault, a victim has the choice to go to the hospital to have a forensic examination. This can create the opportunity to collect any DNA that may have been left by the suspect. Once the examination is completed, the evidence is then carefully stored to avoid any form of contamination.
The testing of these kits could lead to the apprehension of suspects and even free some who may be innocent behind bars, however, Muhammad pointed out â€œthe safety of the women in this city is not the priority that it should be. Weâ€™re calling on the mayor, the police chief, the sheriff, the county commissioner, and the metro police chief. Houston has become a haven for rapists. The leadership in this city needs to do more than they are doing.â€
He was joined at the press conference by other Nation of Islam men along with representatives from the National Black United Front, Shrine of the Black Madonna, Greater Houston Justice Coalition and Operation Outreach OG1.
HPD recently released a composite sketch of a man they believe sexually assaulted a 31-year-old woman on the afternoon of Feb. 22. He allegedly boarded the same bus she did from a METRO stop, harassed her during the ride and got off with her at the 5600 block of Old Spanish Trail.
He then followed her, struck her in the head, and eventually sexually assaulted her in a field at the 3200 block of Produce Row. This is reportedly Houstonâ€™s fourth sexual assault case this year that has occurred near a METRO bus stop.
â€œWe also want to send a message to the men in the community. It is ultimately our responsibility to protect our women and girls.â€ said Muhammad. â€œWe want to send a message to the would-be rapists and pedophiles that there are strong men in the city of Houston. Your days are numbered with this activity that you are aggressively pursuing against our women. Weâ€™re getting sick and tired of seeing our women treated the way that they have been treated.â€
At the conclusion of the press conference everyone went to the four corners of Old Spanish Trail and Scott to pass out the composite sketch of the alleged attacker.
According to police, the man is described as a Hispanic male in his late teens to early twenties, thin build, approximately 5 foot 7. He has tattoos up and down both arms and his neck, including a star tattoo on the right side of his head and a tattoo of a woman–possibly the Virgin Mary–on his right forearm.
Anyone with information on the suspectâ€™s identity is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477. Tips can also be submitted online at crime-stoppers.org or via text message â€“ just text â€œTIP 610â€ plus your info to 274637. A $5,000 cash reward is available for information leading to an arrest in this case.
Respect and protect the woman.