15 July, 2013

Milwaukee, WI

In response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman on charges of second degree murder in the death of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin, thousands of people across the country took to the streets. The ‘not guilty’ verdict, which was announced late Saturday night, epitomized the failures of our system - a system that criminalizes Blackness and privileges individuals that can pass as White. The jury was all women, 5 White, 1 Latina. 

Trayvon was murdered February 26th, 2012. Zimmerman pleaded self-defense, despite having aggressively stalked and engaged Martin, and was released from custody. It took six weeks for Zimmerman to be charged. 

The case, which garnered international attention, symbolizes the disenfranchisement of Blackness in the courts and in American society. Trayvon Martin’s murder was not an isolated incidence of “self-defense.” The jury’s ruling illustrates the power asymmetries of racial profiling, who Stand Your Ground laws protect, and how violence against young Black men is condoned. The immunity of “White”-perpetrated violence, whether it be by neighborhood watchmen or the police, is cause for protest and should not be tolerated. 

Yesterday hundreds of people marched through downtown Milwaukee demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, Derek Williams, Bo Morrison, Corey Stingely, Darius Simmons, and all victims of White supremacy and institutional racism. Demonstrators marched from the Martin Luther King statue in Brewer’s Hill through downtown. They chanted as they walked and stopped at several intersections to allow community leaders and participants to share thoughts and stories. Folks marched through the city’s annual festival Bastille Days chanting Trayvon’s name and the names of various local victims. The rally finished back at the MLK statue, closing with commitments to keep the struggle for justice alive in the weeks and months ahead.

Of note, the trial for Darius Simmons, a 13 year-old boy who was shot to death May 31st, 2012 by his neighbor begins today in Milwaukee. Suspecting Simmons had broken into his house days before, 76 year-old John Henry Spooner used a 9mm handgun to shoot Darius Simmons at close range, while the boy was taking out his family’s trash. 

"After police arrived, Darius’s body remained on the sidewalk, while his mother (Larry) was questioned in a squad car for approximately two hours. During the investigation of the shooting, they searched Larry’s home again. Finding nothing relevant to the homicide, they nevertheless proceeded to arrest Darius’s older brother on account of truancy tickets.

In contrast, members of Spooner’s family were reportedly allowed to re-enter their home and remove “items” – despite it being part of the crime scene. Spooner himself was granted bail for $300,000 (meaning that only $30,000 would have to be posted for him to be freed). Appearing in court Monday 11 June, Spooner pleaded not guilty to first-degree intentional homicide.” — The Guardian

The trial for the murder of Darius Simmons begins Monday, July 15. The courtroom is in the Safety Building - Room 502: Solidarius - Pack the Court

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