In the hustle and bustle of covering last week’s recall election, we failed to focus on a incident that has become Milwaukee’s own Trayvon Martin tragedy.
As you are well aware, the funeral for Darius Simmons was held last weekend. He was the unfortunate victim of the anger of John Spooner, who brutally killed the 13-year-old in front of his mother who pleaded with him not to shoot her son.
Spooner, a 70-plus southsider who collected and sold guns, some of which were stolen from him in a series of burglaries at his home–which is located next door to the home Darius and his family lived– believed Darius was involved in the burglaries.
Perhaps Spooner was acting out of a sense of anger and bewilderment at the changing demographic of his southside neighborhood when he shot the youth, who had his hands raised trying to explain he had no involvement in the burglaries.
We were also outraged to learn of the conduct of the Milwaukee Police Department towards Simmon’s mother, Patricia Larry.
While they should be commended for immediately arresting Spooner, avoiding the mistake the Sanford, Fla. police made in allowing George Zimmerman to go free after killing Martin, we can’t understand why they questioned Larry for two hours, searched her home (and reportedly found nothing connecting the family to the burglaries) and arrested her oldest son–Simmon’s brother–for outstanding truancy tickets (misdemeanors) while her son’s body laid in the streets.
We believe Mayor Tom Barrett when he said he will demand a full investigation into how the police handled the matter and, if warranted, the appropriate reprimands are handed down to the officers involved in the investigation.
Contrary to the views of many outside the community, Black Milwaukeeans want justice–but they demand equal justice and decent treatment by the city’s police department.
The community will be watching how the subsequent trial is run, what the verdict will be, and more importantly, if the punishment will fit the crime, regardless of Spooner’s age.
We were impressed by the immediate action taken by Ald. Jose Perez, in whose district the shooting took place.
Perez showed compassion as he personally reached out to Larry’s family consoling them and, with the assistance of the Southside Organizing Committee, helping with funeral arrangements and other needs.
We hope Perez’s actions lead to good and enhanced relationships between the two ethnic communities.
Let’s hope that’s the case. At least something good and positive will come out of this senseless act.