Erykah Badu Is Aiding the Effort to Solve Abandoned Rape Cases in Detroit

Fans of the ubiquitous crime-procedural television dramas like “C.S.I.” or “Law & Order” see criminal cases processed and solved rapidly, but in reality the time it takes law enforcement to properly address any given crime is far greater. For crimes like rape, in which D.N.A. testing and lab-based examinations are commonplace, victims can wait months – even years – before any significant movement is made in apprehending the assailant. Known as rape kits, the collection of biological evidence for any given case of rape is perhaps the single-most important tool investigators have in locating the perpetrator, but in Detroit, Michigan, a disheartening discovery has unearthed a far-ranging travesty, one that has earned the attention of Erykah Badu.

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Back in 2009, some 11,000 unprocessed rape kits dating back to the 1980s were uncovered at a police warehouse in the Motor City. The seemingly abandoned collection of crucial evidence represented just one city’s crippling backlog of crime yet to be sifted through – let alone be solved – by understaffed, underfunded, and overworked law-enforcement departments across the country. According to a 2015 BBC report, the National Institute of Justice granted Detroit police an endowment that has allowed them to begin testing the neglected rape kits, but far more work is needed to bring justice to the countless victims whose rapists who have quite literally gotten away with it. However, the vigor of local residents and officials has shed a continuously bright light on the matter, and now Ms. Badu has announced that she will be donating her proceeds from an upcoming performance to the ongoing fight to solve these forgotten crimes.

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As reported by the Detroit Free Press and seen on Okayplayer, Badu will be performing at Detroit’s Chene Park Amphitheater on August 12, a show which has now become a fundraiser for the African American 490 Challenge. The 490 is an offshoot of Enough SAID (Sexual Assault in Detroit), which describes itself as “an independent collaboration between the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, the Detroit Crime Commission and Michigan Women’s Foundation.” As Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley reports, “[t]he 490 Challenge bears that name because each kit costs $490 to test. About 10,000 kits have been tested so far, and money is now going toward completing the tests and investigating the results.”

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The details of Erykah Badu’s involvement speak directly to the cherished artist’s desire to help make a substantial difference in these efforts. According to Riley, “the 490 Challenge would get $5 from each ticket sale as well as the proceeds from a $100-per-ticket reception before the concert and $1,000-per-person VIP reception with Badu after the show. Organizers said tickets to both receptions are 100% tax deductible.”

Heads interested in getting involved in the fundraising efforts can do so by visiting the links above.