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Momentum builds: Justice for Darius Simmons, Derek Williams, and Corey Stingley

By Jacob Flom |
July 19, 2013
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Milwaukee demands justice
Milwaukee demands justice (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Milwaukee, WI - The movement to win justice for Darius Simmons, Derek Williams, Corey Stingley, and Bo Morrison has received a boost from the national attention and outrage over the “not guilty” verdict for Zimmerman. Last week over 300 people shut down major streets in downtown Milwaukee. In similar cases over the last two years, community members led by the Occupy Coalition (Occupy the Hood Milwaukee and Occupy Milwaukee) repeatedly rallied for Derek Williams, Darius Simmons, and other local victims of racist police and vigilante murder.

The verdict in the case of Trayvon Martin’s murder hit home for many in Milwaukee who witness similar verdicts in the cases of friends, family, and neighbors. Fueled by outrage, many are putting their energy into revitalizing the local movement to demand justice for the victims of police and vigilante murder in the Milwaukee area. The movement is currently focused on four local cases, all Black men and boys ages 13 to 22 killed by white adults.

Justice for Darius Simmons

This week, John Spooner, the murderer of thirteen-year-old Darius Simmons, is on trial in Milwaukee. Wisconsinites witnessed the Milwaukee Police Department go to great lengths to protect Spooner after he murdered the child, just as Sanford police officials went to great lengths to assist Zimmerman. Instead of immediately arresting the murderer, Milwaukee Police arrested Simmons' brother at the scene of the crime, detained the dead child’s mother for three hours, and searched their family home. At the same time, MPD allowed Spooner to go into his home (part of the murder scene) and “retrieve belongings.” Notorious Southside alderman Bob Donovan even suggested to Spooner that he take matters into his own hands, hours before Spooner shot Simmons to death. “There are other ways to deal with situations,” said Donovan, “that police couldn’t solve."

In the first half of Spooner’s trial, he was convicted of first-degree homicide. The trial now moves to the second phase, in which Spooner’s lawyers will try to prove an insanity defense. But one thing is for sure, the massive national movement for Trayvon Martin and local movements for similar cases have magnified Simmons’ case and put a watchful eye on the court as Spooner is tried.

Justice for Corey Stingley

The most recent case to come to light is the strangling of sixteen-year-old Corey Stingley at a liquor store in Milwaukee county. Three white men reportedly accused Stingley of theft, and attempted to conduct a citizen’s arrest. While the three grown men detained Stingley he was strangled to death. No charges were brought against any of the men involved in his death. Corey’s father, Craig Stingley, led the Occupy Coalition rally on Sunday, carrying a portrait of his son.

“There’s no reason that the men who killed my son should still be out on these streets, no reason period. But they are, and that’s because this system is broken,” said Craig Stingley in an interview with WISN news.

Justice for Derek Williams

For two years the Occupy Coalition has rallied tirelessly alongside friends and family of Derek Williams to demand justice. They have helped expose a cover-up of his death that leads all the way to the Police Chief’s desk, and beyond.

After community pressure, the autopsy records were revised to show Williams suffocated after Milwaukee Police broke his neck. Persistent, militant rallies for Derek Williams led to a federal inquest into his death. The jury in the inquest recommended homicide charges against the three white police who refused, against protocol, to help Williams while he suffocated in the back of their squad car. Incredibly, the judge disregarded the jury’s advice and allowed the officers to walk right back to duty on Milwaukee streets, with no punishment whatsoever. The inquest, won through community pressure, did not bring justice for Derek, but it did expose the racist and corrupt nature of the so-called justice system.

Systematic change

Persistent community mobilization aims a spotlight on the corrupt and deadly police misconduct in MPD, on their political supporters, the police and fire commission, the sheriff’s office, and even the mayor’s office. With every injustice exposed, more community members are joining the coalition.

The Occupy Coalition joins community leaders and family members to fight for justice in the courts, but it is also demanding systematic change. Activists blame racist discrimination and national oppression for many of the tragedies perpetrated against African-American youth by Milwaukee police and racist vigilantes. But they are also targeting the city’s elite power structure for encouraging and protecting those who commit such crimes. Occupy leaders are discussing continued actions addressing the ineffective Police and Fire Commission, but this weekend, they plan to take to the streets again.

More actions planned

Carrying over the momentum from last weekend, this weekend will have three separate events. On Saturday, July 20, the Occupy Coalition will participate in the 100 cities rally called for by Al Sharpton. The rally will be held at noon in front of the Federal Courthouse at 517 E Wisconsin Ave. Also on Saturday, the "Cop Watch" Program will meet at Urban Underground at 2pm, 4850 W Fond Du Lac Ave.

On Sunday, the Occupy Coalition will lead another mass march beginning at 6pm by the Martin Luther King Jr. statue on MLK Drive, near Vine Street.