Self-Policing the Neighborhood: Another African-American Boy Shot by White Man
Troy Davis, Trayvon Martin, and now, Darius Simmons. Simmons, an unarmed 13-year-old African-American boy from Milwaukee, Wis., was shot and killed last Thursday by John Henry Spooner, his 75-year-old white neighbor. Earlier in the week, Spooner had expressed frustration to a local alderman concerning how the police dealt with a recent break-in at his home, where $3,000-worth of shotguns were taken. Police had made no arrests, but Spooner suspected his neighbors.
On Thursday, Simmons went outside to move his trash can back in from the street when Spooner approached him and began questioning him about his stolen guns. As Simmons told Spooner he didn’t steal them, his mother, who was also outside, advised Spooner to leaver her son alone. Spooner then pulled out his gun and fired. Simmons had begun to run away when Spooner fired again. Simmons was pronounced dead several hours later.
On Saturday morning, Spooner was brought to court, where he was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon and has a $300,000 bail. The same day, Simmons' family and friends gathered outside his house to remember him. His family had just moved to the neighborhood less than a month ago because, according to Simmons’ aunt, his mother thought it would be safer than their prior neighborhood in north Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted Toni Clark, Simmons’ sixth-grade teacher, describing him as "a jokester, loving and funny.” Clark said he rode his bike more than seven miles to go to school. “He was determined to get a good education," she said.
The Journal also reported how his friends grieved:
Some of Darius' sixth-grade friends decorated a wooden cross with stuffed animals and planted it on the front step, the precise spot where Darius stood as he was shot. They tied a balloon to the top with the word "LOVE" written on the front.
Yet, as the criminalization of black males continues to plague our society, love seems harder and harder to come by. Not only are black people especially victims of a racist justice system, they are now increasingly becoming victims of those who take it upon themselves to self-police their neighborhood. And loose gun laws aren’t helping. In fact, AmmoLand.com, a website devoted to shooting sports news, thanked Wisconsin Governor Walker supporters yesterday for helping defeat “rabidly anti-gun Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.”