Monday, June 25, 2012

Muhammad Mosque No. 3: 'Regarding the Murder of Darius Simmons'

Statement from Muhammad Mosque No. 3:

‘Regarding the murder of Darius Simmons’

Published Jun 25, 2012 7:33 AM

Below is a statement regarding the murder of 13-year-old Darius Simmons by white vigilante, John Spooner. Simmons’ murder took place in a climate of right-wing racism, anti-worker attacks and apartheid-type oppression against Milwaukee’s African-American community, fostered by the 1% and their politicians.

The Milwaukee police’s actions and response to Simmons’ murder is standard practice. From Ernest Lacy to Frank Jude Jr.; to recent revelations of Milwaukee police engaging in street strip searches of African Americans that include “cavity searches”; to planting drugs on residents and beating them, there’s a historical pattern of police terrorism against communities of color in particular.

This statement is being republished in solidarity with those in the African-American community but also all communities of color and others victimized by police brutality and terrorism. In Milwaukee, many individuals and organizations, including the NAACP, the Nation of Islam and the Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement, stand in solidarity with the Simmons family and the African-American community, who are demanding justice for their son, brother and friend.

On June 1, an unspeakable tragedy occurred in the neighborhood of 19th and Arrow. A mother and son, Patricia Larry and Darius Simmons, were taking out the trash when John Spooner confronted [the] 13-year-old son, accused him of burglarizing [Spooner’s] home and shot him in broad daylight.

When police arrived, Mr. Spooner brazenly confessed to the crime and was taken into custody. However, according to Ms. Larry, her encounter with the Milwaukee Police Department demonstrated a lack of compassion, sensitivity and basic humanity after she witnessed the murder of her 13-year-old boy. Police questioned her for nearly two hours in a squad car while her son lay dead on the sidewalk; her home was searched for any possible connection to explain Spooner’s actions. When no evidence connected anyone in her home to the burglary, officers ran a check on her older son and arrested him for having truancy tickets.

Why did Milwaukee police treat Patricia Larry as though she was not a victim of a horrible crime? Why was the family of John Spooner allowed to remove items from his home despite it being a crime scene? This was the murder of a child. Was it that members of the Milwaukee Police Department shared the view of John Spooner, who also saw Darius Simmons as possible suspect rather than an innocent victim?

We demand an immediate public apology to Patricia Larry and the family of Darius Simmons for the insensitive treatment by the Milwaukee Police Department.

An investigation should be conducted into what police and city officials knew of John Spooner’s threats towards the family and any history of threats by Spooner involving a firearm in that neighborhood.

We want the offer of $300,000 bail rescinded and [for] Spooner to remain in police custody. The charge of first-degree homicide warrants no bail, and there are no mitigating circumstances surrounding this crime except that it was committed by an elderly white man.

We want this case to be seen for what it is: a Hate Crime committed by a violent gun owner who hunted down a child to unleash his anger and [make the child] his victim. He approached Darius Simmons and shot him in the chest, five feet away, and attempted to shoot him two more times as he ran for his life and collapsed to his death. We demand additional Hate Crimes charges given the fact that Spooner targeted Darius Simmons. Presuming guilt for being young and Black, Spooner proceeded to execute an unarmed boy.

It is clear that the Milwaukee Police Department and Alderman [Bob] Donovan, who is NOT the alder of that district, displayed a great deal of sympathy for Spooner, even after he confessed to first-degree homicide in the case of Darius Simmons. Ms. Larry, on the other hand, was questioned as if she was a suspect while her son lay dead and was ultimately taken away while police interrogated the family.

This is an outrage that must be addressed publicly. We call on the community, Northside and Southside, to continue to rally around the family and to renew coalition building between Black and Latino communities, both of whom are the victims of police misconduct and white vigilantism.

We call on Mayor [Tom] Barrett, Chief [Ed] Flynn and Common Council President [Willie] Hines to condemn this racist attack and conduct an investigation into how the Milwaukee police handled this grieving mother.

We believe that if this is not done swiftly and justice is mishandled by the city of Milwaukee, then it signals to others who share the racist paranoia of John Spooner that they too may take their prejudices and execute vigilante justice as they see fit, and soon there will be more tragedies like Darius Simmons.

Donations can be made to the Simmons family at Tri-City National Bank in the name of Darius Simmons.

Muhammad Mosque No. 3:
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