Part of what helped Freeland-Gaither is that her kidnapping, caught on video, occurred in close proximity to the prestigious, predominantly White private school Germantown Friends. West Coulter is one of the better-protected streets in this otherwise overwhelmingly Black section of Philadelphia. One wonders whether the crime would have been videotaped—and Freeland-Gaither found at all—had her abduction occurred near Germantown High School, a mostly Black, lower-income public school shuttered in 2013. Still, the video provided authorities with vital clues, and Philadelphia police and the FBI deserve tremendous praise for finding this young woman and returning her to her family alive.
Yet prior to the video footage going viral, authorities, in early reports of her abduction, made comments that placed the victim under scrutiny with statements like, “There’s no relationship to drugs or criminal activity at this time.” The comments also suggested the investigation might have been less urgent if drugs had been involved, despite an eyewitness account of her screams and kicking out the abduction car’s rear and passenger windows in a desperate bid for freedom.
Once it became clear that Freeland-Gaither was a certified nursing assistant with the love and support of both of her parents as well as her community, she went from being another faceless Black female crime victim in Germantown to a human being worthy of America’s concern and police protection. That’s a rare accomplishment for a Black woman in this country.