Had that happened in a [sic] upper-middle-class neighborhood…first of all, they wouldn’t have let that smell go on in that neighborhood—they would have sent somebody from the city, somebody would have been out to check that out. But because those people were from lower socio-economic situations, nobody cared.
The above quote, from Gayle Miller-Cooper, explains the central thesis behind the first season of the new VICE crime documentary series, ”Red Right Hand.” Miller-Cooper, a retired Cleveland police sargeant, is explaining how Anthony Sowell, a.k.a ”The Cleveland Strangler” was able to rape, murder and mutilate at least 11 black women between 2007 and 2009 without arousing police suspicion. The aformentioned “smell” came from the rotting corpses of Sowell’s victims—a situation the city didn’t investigate despite complaints from his surviving victims and the community.
The first season of “Red Right Hand,” the first episode of which you can see above, details VICE senior editor Wilbert L. Cooper’s harrowing investigation into the issues within the Cleveland Police Department and broader society that lead to Sowell’s 11 murders going undetected for nearly two years. Combining archival footage and interviews with survivors, police and other city figures, the four episodes weave a powerful narrative of systemic racism, classism and sexism that lead to the police department’s negligence and allowed Sewell’s murders to go unaddressed. The series makes the powerful argument that police negligence and neglect—especially in black communities—are as systematically-rooted and deplorable as police brutality.
Check out part one of “Red Right Hand” above and visit VICE.com for the remaining three episodes.