Kasandra Perkins

By Dana Fleitman, JWI Program Coordinator

“This was a murder and a suicide,” shares Sharon Katz (Executive Director of SafeHome) in a recent Washington Post article. “We’re losing sight of the victim….we’re hearing a lot more about Jovan than Kasandra.”

On December 1st, Kansas City Chiefs’ linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his 22-year-old girlfriend before driving to the stadium and killing himself, leaving their three-month-old daughter an orphan.

The question “why” understandably resonates with a troubled public, and the news media has made the issue one of gun control, mental health and sports injury – arguably at the cost of losing sight of this fatal case of domestic violence that killed a young mother.

I don’t want her to get overshadowed by who he was,” Kasandra’s close friend Shelby VanCompernolle said. “I know he was a Chiefs player and a lot of people know him, but she deserves recognition, too.”

Kasandra Perkins, who went by “Kasi,” grew up in Texas and met Belcher when she came to visit family. She loved living in Kansas City and had a close group of friends who called themselves sisters; five have had babies in the past year and vowed to raise their children together.

The Domestic Violence Resource Center reports that, on average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in America each day.

Buzz Bissinger writes a scathing indictment of the news media’s reporting on the crime: “The sportswriters take their leap over the facile cliff, predictably churning out predictable mush in the group grope of making the act of Kansas City Chiefs’ linebacker Jovan Belcher into one that doesn’t reflect the act itself but a reflection of our fractured society in which you-name-it-and-it’s-to-blame: lack of gun control, skewed perceptions of manliness, the violence of football turning a person uncontrollably violent in his own personal life. Or maybe it was the alignment of the stars last Saturday morning, or too much after-shave and not enough cologne, or a Q with no U in Words With Friends.”

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates writes simply that, regardless of reasoning, “…what is indisputable is that Jovan Belcher was a murderer…Self-murder does not change this.”

MasculinityU, a coalition working to question traditional notions of masculinity, notes that “we all have reasons to be upset by this murder,” criticising the failure of the media to label it as domestic violence and challenging men to take an active stand.

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