It’s déjà vu all over again.
One of the oldest tricks in the anti-Black playbook was unsuccessfully pulled last week in Florida when a mother told police that her autistic son had been kidnapped by two Black men. Of course, she was found to be lying and confessed days later to killing the non-verbal nine-year-old boy. Amazingly, no innocent people were rounded up as suspects in this case, but her lie certainly jeopardized the safety of Black men in Miami-Dae County. This latest ridiculous and racist ruse ended similarly to other instances in recent years of non-Black people falsely blaming Black people for violent crimes they did not commit.
Patricia Ripley now stands accused of pushing her son, Alejandro Ripley, into a canal on Thursday evening to drown him. Surveillance footage showed her committing the deed, ABC News reported. But after neighbors rushed to save him, she took him to another canal and did it again, this time to deadly results.
Patricia Ripley alerted the authorities and said Alejandro was kidnapped by two Black men. One of them, she said, had a knife. The other, she added, demanded drugs. The police report described her as a white Hispanic.
The heinous actions that she eventually confessed to were reminiscent of the painful history of non-Black women accusing Black men of crimes they never committed.
Emmett Till’s lying accuser, Carolyn Bryant Donham, admitted in 2007 that the Black teen never verbally or physically abused her. She was married to one of the men who lynched the 14-year-old to death in 1955. Sixty-five years later, activists were still working to get justice in that case.
In 1995, Susan Smith was convicted of murdering her 3-year-old and 14-month-old sons by strapping them into their car seats and letting her car roll into a lake in South Carolina. After killing her children, she told police that a Black man carjacked her and kidnapped the kids. Police began hunting for fictional Black men who fit the description Smith gave them. More than a week later after crying on national TV in a purported appeal to get her children back, Smith admitted she lied and there actually was no Black suspect.
To be sure, it’s not just white women trying to pin crimes on Black suspects who don’t exist. Mitchell Dutz proved that in 2018 when he was involved in a drug deal and was robbed in Fulton County, Illinois. Dutz, a white man, was so upset that participating in illegal activity did not go his way that he claimed the drug dealer stole his car with his 13-month-old son in the backseat. The police even went as far as to post an Amber Alert on Facebook before it was determined that Dutz was lying.
One year earlier, Breana Harmon Talbott riled up the town of Denison, Texas, when she claimed she was abducted and sexually assaulted by two Black men while another held her down. The 18-year-old, who initially said she was approached by three Black men in ski masks who forced her into an SUV and later sexually assaulted her in the woods, confessed to the hoax weeks later and was arrested.
Not to be outdone, a woman in 2009 was found with her daughter at Disney World after claiming they were abducted by two Black men. Poice at the time believed Bonnie Sweeten came up with the elaborate hoax after fleeing domestic violence. She was only charged with false reports and identity theft, both misdemeanors.
This apparently favored practice by white folks isn’t only limited to civilians, either. Georgia police officer Sherry Hall claimed she was shot in the abdomen by a “Black man, 6 feet, 250 pounds, wearing a green shirt and black jogging pants” in 2016. Hall told elaborate lies, sat down for interviews and falsely accused Rodreikus Scott of trying to kill her. But law enforcement ultimately determined that Hall shot herself with her own service weapon before she was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Back in Florida, Ripley was being held without bail on charges of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree murder. She is facing life in prison without parole, at best. At worst, she could be sentenced to death.