Steubenville rape protest draws hundreds as city responds to cover-up allegations

By Arturo Garcia
Saturday, January 5, 2013 20:53 EDT
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Steubenville protest 010512 by roniweb via Flickr CC
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Hundreds of demonstrators converged on Steubenville, Ohio on Saturday to demand justice for the 16-year-old victim of an alleged rape in August, in a case that has garnered national attention.

WTRF-TV reported that protesters at the “Occupy Steubenville” included visitors from as far away as California and New York, and even overseas.

Several of the demonstrators wore masks or carried signs bearing the likeness of Guy Fawlkes, the symbol of the “Anonymous” hacker collective. An affiliated group, KnightSec, brought the case further to light after releasing video and other evidence it said was swept under the rug for the sake of protecting the town’s high school football program, including mockery of the victim.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that two 16-year-old members of the team will stand trial on Feb. 13 in connection with the attack on the girl.

“There are good officers on the police force, there are good sheriffs deputies, and there are good kids on the football team,” one rallygoer told WTOV-TV. “But there’s an injustice here. There are lies and injustice and coverups. If you want to do something about it from this point on, start teaching your children to respect life.”

Among the speakers at the event were several sexual assault survivors, as well as Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, who, according to The Atlantic Wire, went from saying he was “coming after” the hacker group to addressing Saturday’s rally.

“I’m trying to convince you that I’m not the bad guy,” Abdalla said amid boos from the crowd. “You’ve already got your mind made up.”

CNN reported that city officials launched their own website to counter what they call a misrepresentation of the facts of the case.

“City leaders know that many people outside Eastern Ohio are interested in this matter and people from other states and countries may not be familiar with some basic facts about the background of the case,” a statement on the site said. “This site is not designed to be a forum for how the Juvenile Court ought to rule in this matter.”

Watch WTRF’s report from “Occupy Steubenville,” aired Saturday, below.

[Image by Roniweb via Flickr Creative Commons]

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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