Oakland, CA — An abused little girl was only 12-years-old when she was forced into the sex trade, forever altering the course of her life. For years, this little girl was “exploited by pimps” when she finally broke away and made it to an Oakland police officer. For a brief moment, she thought she was safe — but, according to a recent lawsuit, she was wrong.
When the young girl thought she was getting help, she was actually being brought into a depraved circle of cops from multiple departments who would continue to abuse her for years to come.
Instead of helping her, more than 30 other law enforcement officers “continued to traffic, rape, victimize and exploit a teenage girl who needed to be rescued,” according to a legal claim filed with the Oakland city attorney’s office. “Instead of helping [the teen] find a way out of exploitation, they furthered and deepened her spiral down into the sex trade,” the claim continued.
Now, as a recent report from the East Bay Express notes, some of the officers involved in covering up this explicit case of child sex trafficking are not only being promoted — but honored.
Knowing that if they conducted their honors ceremony in public, they would likely see a huge backlash, the Oakland police department held a secret ceremony in a church Friday.
Several of the officers honored at the ceremony were the same ones involved in covering up, mishandling, or otherwise participating in the sex-crime incident.
As the Express notes, two dozen protesters picketed the ceremony at the church’s entrance, accusing Mayor Libby Schaaf and the department of rewarding officers who should instead be punished.
“They seem to be resisting change,” said Gwen Hardy, a longtime Oakland resident who has been involved in efforts to reform the OPD since the 1980s, according to the Express. Hardy said the Coalition for Police Accountability, which spearheaded the creation of the city’s new police commission, met with Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick earlier this year. Kirkpatrick told the activists she wouldn’t hesitate to discipline, and even fire, bad cops.
“But why promote them?” Hardy asked.
Normally, when police officers honor themselves with awards and promotions, these events are broadcast out into the public light as to bolster their public image. However, when they are honoring those who facilitated a child sex scandal, they have to do it in secret. No media was allowed in the event and, in fact, they were forced to stand 50 yards away from the entrance.
As the Express noted, in the past, media were invited to these functions — not anymore.
Roland Holmgren was one of the officers honored at Friday’s ceremony for his recent promotion to captain.
Holmgren was one of the dozens of cops referred to in a special court investigator’s report as having mishandled the Celeste Guap case, in which multiple Oakland cops raped and trafficked a young woman, and illegally accessed department records, among other crimes, according to the Express.
Several other officers, including Capt. Kirk Coleman, who now runs the Internal Affairs Division, were in attendance. Coleman was also involved in the sex trafficking cover up and named in the report for failing to notify the District Attorney about the criminal behavior of the officers in the case.
The public became aware of the investigation after Guap went public and the investigation revealed a massive conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse by dozens of California cops.
“It appears to be a cesspool here,” local attorney, John Burris, responsible for a 2003 federal probe into the Oakland police department said at the time. “But you gotta keep working at it to drain the swamps.”
As Oakland scrambles to hold on to what little shred of dignity they think they have left, moves like this one only serve to stoke the divide even further.
With sex trafficking on the rise in the United States, it is no wonder government is admitting they have no way to stop it. After all, if they are awarding police officers for covering up one of most reported on underage sex trafficking cases in the country, why on earth would we expect them to do anything to stop it?