Suit: Memphis PD failed to investigate rape of black woman by man who later killed Eliza Fletcher. Senate GOP votes to keep political donors secret. Russians protest, flee Putin’s Ukraine draft.
Suit: Memphis PD failed black woman raped by man who later killed Eliza Fletcher
One year ago yesterday, Alicia Franklin agreed to meet a person she’d been talking to for weeks on a dating app called Plenty of Fish. Her correspondent, who used the handle “Cleo”, asked Franklin to meet him at an apartment complex where he claimed he worked. When Franklin arrived, she found that the complex was abandoned. “Cleo” then forced her inside his car and raped her at gunpoint.
After her assailant left, Franklin did exactly what women are supposed to do in that situation. She immediately drove herself to a hospital, then to a rape crisis center where she underwent a rape kit and reported the assault to police. Franklin gave police extensive details about her attacker: his name, his phone number, what car he drove, his Plenty of Fish account and other information.
“They had more than enough evidence that night when they interviewed me to get him off the streets” Franklin said. “But they didn’t”.
Franklin, now 22, says that she took police to the scene of the crime. However, police didn’t collect any evidence at the scene. They didn’t even brush her phone, which her attacker handled, for fingerprints. When they asked her to identify her attacker, they showed her a decade-old photo of him, which she failed to identify.
Police didn’t ask for Franklin’s rape kit to be expedited either, consigning it to a years-long backlog. For months, Franklin pressed police for updates on her case and was given the runaround.
“I was just an average black girl in the city of Memphis, you know,” Franklin said. “I just think it wasn’t a priority”.
Eliza Fletcher disappears
It wasn’t until the disappearance of Eliza Fletcher, a 38-year-old white school teacher and heiress, that Cleotha Abston was taken into custody. Police finally ordered Franklin’s rape kit to be expedited for analysis. It matched Cleotha Abston. When Fletcher’s body was later found, Abston was charged with murder and aggravated kidnapping. He was also at long last charged with Franklin’s rape.
Franklin is now suing the city of Memphis police. Her attorneys say that if police had made Franklin’s assault a priority, it would have saved Eliza Fletcher’s life. “I didn’t want to believe it because I just never thought that my case would have [been] tied to [Fletcher’s] case. I was shocked,” Franklin said. “I’m still kind of trying to process everything”.
Senate GOP votes to keep political donors secret
Today, Senate Republicans voted unanimously to allow organizations that spend millions on elections to keep their donors secret. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) advanced a bill that would require political action committees (PACs) to disclose the identities of donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle. The vote was 49-49 with all Democrats voting ‘yes’ and all Republicans voting ‘no’. One Democrat and one Republican were absent for the vote.
Sources say Schumer likely didn’t expect the bill to pass but wanted to have Republicans on record as supporting “dark money” in politics. Numerous efforts to combat dark money have failed in the years since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling made nearly unlimited anonymous campaign contributions possible. Since then, Schumer said, dark money “has disfigured our democracy almost beyond recognition”.
The bill’s author Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) noted that between 2006 and 2020, political spending by groups with anonymous donors increased from $5 million to more than $1 billion. Additionally, between 2008 and 2020, political spending by billionaires has increased from $17 million to $1.2 billion.
Russians protest, flee Putin’s draft to fight in Ukraine
Protests erupted in cities across Russia after President Vladimir Putin called up 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine. According to Amnesty International, police arrested over 1300 people that took part in the protests. Taking part in anti-war and anti-military demonstrations have been made criminal offenses in Russia since the Ukraine invasion. While Putin purported to only be drafting men with military experience, some students (normally exempt from the draft) with no military experience have already been called up.
Many young men are looking for other ways to avoid the draft, including medical excuses. Others who haven’t been called up yet are fleeing the country. Long lines of cars formed overnight at the crossing into neighboring Georgia. Other border crossings into Finland also saw increased traffic overnight. Air ticket sales to Istanbul, Belgrade or Dubai saw price increases and some sold out completely.
Russian forces in Ukraine have been plagued by morale problems since the invasion began, and the problem has only gotten worse over time. Some Russian combatants have even willingly turned themselves over to Ukrainian authorities.
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