Kasandra Michelle Perkins: We Must Say Her Name
David J. Leonard, The Feminist Wire

In the aftermath of the tragic murder of Kasandra Michelle Perkins, and the subsequent suicide of Jovan Belcher, much of the media and social media chatter have focused on Belcher.  Indeed, Kasandra Michelle Perkins has been an afterthought in public conversations focused on questions regarding the Chiefs’ ability to play, concussions, masculinity,guns, and the culture of football in the aftermath of this tragedy. Over at the always brilliant Crunk Feminist Collective website, one member described the situation in sobering terms:

Headlines and news stories have focused on the tragedy from the lens of the perpetrator (including speculation of potential brain trauma, his involvement, as an undergraduate, in a Male Athletes Against Violence initiative, and his standing as an allstar athlete), in some ways dismissing or overshadowing the lens of the victim, who in headlines is simply referred to as “(his) girlfriend.”

Friends of Kasandra Perkins ‘don’t want her to be overshadowed
 Laura Bauer and Glenn E. Rice, Kansas City Star

For friends, what’s important now is the young woman they called Kasi. People need to know about her, they insist, and how she hoped to be a teacher one day. How if friends were having a bad time, she’d ask them out to lunch or sit and listen to their problems.

The young woman also volunteered in the community as part of the Chiefs Women’s Organization, and Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said Sunday she was well known and loved and considered a part of the team’s family. Cornerback Brandon Flowers added: “Kasandra was like a sister to us.”

And as more details about the tragedy are likely to come, friends say what can’t get lost is how Perkins loved her life as a mother. A life that ended just as it was beginning.

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

Kasandra Perkins Forgotten Victim in Jovan Belcher Murder-Suicide, Diana Reese, The Washington Post

Three women most likely died Saturday at the hand of their husband or boyfriend, but the only one who made international headlines was Kasandra Perkins.

Because she was murdered by a Kansas City Chiefs football player.

The Monday morning quarterbackers aren’t focusing on the epidemic of domestic violence in this country. They’re mourning the loss of 25-year old linebacker Jovan Belcher. They’re asking, “Why?” What drove him to shoot and kill 22-year-old Perkins, his girlfriend and the mother of their 3-month-old daughter, Zoey, and then turn the gun on himself?

End the Silence about Domestic ViolenceJemele Hill, ESPN

Rather than hanging Jovan Belcher’s jersey inside his locker as an awkward tribute and having a moment of silence for domestic violence victims before Sunday’s game, the Kansas City Chiefs should have handed out this fact sheet from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to every player and all the fans who attended the game.

By hanging Belcher’s jersey, the Chiefs created a memorial for a man who murdered the 22-year-old mother of his infant daughter on Saturday morning, then drove to the team’s practice facility and fired a single shot into his head in front of coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.

The moment of silence for domestic violence victims at Arrowhead Stadium was sadly fitting, because when it comes to acknowledging violence against women, the sports world is often mute.  If you glance at that domestic violence fact sheet, then you’ll understand that Kasandra Perkins’ murder isn’t unusual at all.

Kasandra Perkins Did Not Have to Die, Jessica Valenti, The Nation (added Dec. 5)

A good person. Genuine. Pleasant. Nice. Hard-working. A family man. The media has used all of these terms to describe Jovan Belcher after he murdered Kasandra Perkins, shooting her nine times. In fact, these glowing descriptors are all from just one article in The New York Times. But don’t worry, there are plenty of pieces sharing lovely sentiments about the man who killed his girlfriend, the mother of his barely 3-month-old daughter.

While mainstream media and supporters of Belcher have no problem spouting off flattery, most are hesitant to call what happened domestic violence. They’ve gone out of their way to suggest that Belcher murdered Perkins—who friends called ‘Kasi’—because of sustained head injuries or because of alcohol or drug abuse. A police officer, Sgt. Richard Sharp, has even suggested that Belcher committed suicide after killing Kasi because “he cared about her.”

“I don’t think he could live with himself,” he said. What a romantic.


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