Remembering Darius Simmons
One Year Later …. A Family and A Community Prays for Justice
Darius Simmons was described as a fun-loving sixth-grader who loved to crack jokes and play basketball. The 13-year-old’s life came to a shocking end on May 31, 2012 outside of his Milwaukee home, when his family’s 75-year-old neighbor shot him after accusing the boy of robbing his house…
That was the nationwide opening description of the news stories from a year ago. Darius Simmons was all of those things and a wonderful son and friend. He was also a young boy taken way too soon for no reason other than pure and simple racism. With his mother watching in horror, Darius was shot dead in his chest with his mother pleading for John Spooner to come to his senses and spare her son’s life. The man clearly riddled with many issues, racism being one, decided to exact his rage on a little boy one year ago today.
However the horror did not end there. It was just beginning. Patricia Larry, Darius’ mom was taken into police custody for several hours. She was not allowed to stay with him, hold his hand or say goodbye. The Milwaukee Police victimized her a second time and took these precious moments from her with no rational explanation to satisfy her or the community. Larry was not given any information nor able to see her other family which if given time, Spooner would have killed too. Milwaukee Police in their infinite wisdom added to this parent’s worst nightmare. They also decided to search her home. WHY??? They tore it up and ripped apart anything that was not nailed down.
“Clothes were pulled out of the closet, ceiling tiles were pulled out of the ceiling, furniture was turned upside down,” he said. “Family members that I spoke to directly said they thought that a fight or something had broken out in the home.”
Grant also said that police held a brother of Darius until 10 p.m. that night – Darius was shot in the morning – on the year-old truancy warrant.
“This is just bizarre that people in trauma and shock would be treated like this,” Grant said.
Rainbow PUSH Coalition national Field Director Tavis Grant
That was one year ago today and not one apology, not a firing, nor any policy changes were made. Darius’ death and his mother and family’s mistreatment have not changed anything in the Milwaukee Police Department nor do they care. Another family victimized not only by a racist murderer but also a justice system sworn to protect us.
Chief Flynn backed his officers immediately and issued the following statement:
“It has to be kept in mind that at the scene of a homicide our absolute first responsibility is to the victim and to do justice to the victim. That requires us to follow protocols that demand we get an uncontaminated, fresh statement from eye witnesses. Tragically, in this case the critical eye witness was Mom.”
The investigation into the treatment of Patricia Larry and her family by the Fire and Police Commission of course showed the police did nothing wrong. Shocker!!
The Milwaukee Police Department issued the following statement following the release of the Fire and Police Commission’s report:
“The Milwaukee Police Department hears the community’s concerns over the procedures used during the investigation of the homicide of Darius Simmons. We recognize that sometimes professional duty can appear to trump compassion, and that even though investigators were doing justice to the victim, they were not as attentive to the needs of Darius’ mother as they could have been. Police officers and detectives are proud to protect an extraordinarily diverse city. Our homicide detectives have an unmatched record of success in solving the murders of victims from every segment of our community. The members of the Milwaukee Police department remain committed to excellence and to continual improvement and accept the findings of the Fire and Police Commission in that spirit.”
Entire Statement from FPC
One year later…. after all the investigations, protests, marches, and public outrage sadly not much has changed for our Black Community. We still have Chief Flynn, Mayor Barrett, and the Fire and Police Commission who have not altered any policy or procedure (i.e. Derrick Williams and illegal searches). Sure a few fired officers were offered up as token sacrifices for “frisking” people (for lack of a better term for rape). Yes one Negro was added to the Fire and Police Commission just a few months ago this year. But is that change we should accept?
Unfortunately some of our leaders failed us as well. They did not unify us, in fact they divided us and they fought EACH OTHER. Some only sought to gain power and fame and took the community for a ride. When the novelty wore off so did they and on to the next “injustice” they could revel in. The tragic part is that they took down good leaders by childishly bad mouthing and spreading their “lead by hate” campaigns.
As a community we also remember Brandon Jennings who “mysteriously” died at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. If that was not enough we have our own daily reminders and stories of why Milwaukee is the most segregated and most dangerous place for the Black family, especially our young men. If it is not by the hand of the MPD, it certainly by our own hand that we find ways to hurt and harm our beloved Black Community.
However on this day, May 31, 2013, a seed of hope will be planted as the Simmons family unites with the community to dedicate a Garden of Hope, located by their church, All People’s Lutheran Church. They intend to celebrate the short time they shared Darius with us. This is also the same garden Darius helped tend and played in as a member of the church. His spirit will be among the community today as we pray for this family, pray for a better life for our community, and somehow in remembering Darius, we remember justice and unity and all those who have died trying to teach us these most valuable life lessons, including Darius.
Currently his murderer John Spooner now 76 years old, tried to plead insanity and asked for a change in venue, is awaiting trial. Having exhausted many courtroom tricks and tactics, he will now face the community to answer for his atrocities. Sadly with little change the MPD and the Fire and Police Commission still carry on with the same old brand of justice as they see fit. As we saw this week, the feds offered no hope or change as they denied justice to the Derrick Williams family. Where do we go now for justice? That is what this community is left with today a year removed from Darius’ death.
At least for Darius one person will answer even though this I am sure offers little comfort to his family. Maybe if his death is not in vain and we finally come together we can regain justice for Darius, Derrick, Brandon, Andrew Tyler, and all those killed because of injustices and senseless murders. And while we are at it, with warmer weather ahead, we pray for justice amongst ourselves as well. Stop the Violence Beloved Community!!
Wonder Woman is a community activist and blogger and Chair of The Umoja Project, a Black Conservative Movement in Wisconsin.
She is a proud member of the JustUs League!
She has her own blog site at http://www/wonder2woman.blogspot.com
She also contributes to The Milwaukee Drum, the Black Convo Network, Insane Asylum Blog, and Black Bloggers Connect.
Photos: Rick Wood Journal Sentinel Online