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Jeffrey Dahmer is one of America’s most culturally popular serial killers. His story has been told in many different mediums including documentaries as well as movies. 

But for some strange reason, most of the stories that have been told about Dahmer leave out very important details about systematic racism and police prejudices that enabled a serial killer for decades. 

Netflix’s new movie entitled, DAHMER — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, which premieres today, not only dives into the horrific life of Dahmer but also tells the story of Dahmer’s neighbor Glenda Cleveland, a Black woman who on multiple occasions tried to warn the police about her murderous neighbor, but they ignored her pleas until it was too late. 

Dahmer targeted mostly gay Black men. Eleven of his 17 victims were Black and neighbors filed multiple complaints to police about Dahmer’s behavior, but they were ignored.

According to AP, several families sued the police department, saying racism by officers contributed to their relatives’ deaths. 

On May 27, 1991, some Black neighbors of Jeffrey Dahmer called the police after seeing a naked and bleeding boy run from Mr. Dahmer’s apartment building. The officers questioned Dahmer, but eventually accepted his explanation that the boy was an adult and his lover who just had too much to drink. The officers returned the boy to Dahmer who admitted to killing the boy after his July arrest. 

Systematic racism also played a role in Dahmer’s trial. Dahmer killed mostly gay Black men, but his jury was made up of one Black member and 13 whites. 

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Laurence Gram Jr. on multiple occasions during the trial showed Dahmer leniency, even allowing him to smoke in jail, which was prohibited.

What is rarely mentioned when discussing the Dahmer trial are the heartbreaking testimonies from the family of Dahmer’s victims. It’s very important to acknowledge the pain and trauma he caused for so many Black families in Milwaukee.

Ultimately, Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted of 15 of the 16 murders he had committed and was sentenced to 16 terms of life in prison. In 1994 Dahmer was beaten to death by a fellow inmate. 

It’s hard to know if Dahmer was actually a racist, but it really doesn’t matter if he was or not. As long as systematic racism is engrained in our judicial system there will be more injustices and a lot of pain. 

Netflix’s ‘DAHMER — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,’ is a horrifying cautionary tale of how dangerous systemic racism can be. But will it open folks’ eyes, or will we be destined to repeat the mistakes of the past?


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