[Content Note: Racism; guns; eliminationist violence.]
Last June, I wrote about the murder of 13-year-old Darius Simmons, a black boy who was shot point-blank with a shotgun by his then-75-year-old white neighbor, John Henry Spooner, because he believed Simmons had stolen $3,000 worth of guns from him. Simmons, who was in school at the time of the robbery, was taking out the garbage when Spooner confronted him. When he denied having stolen the guns, Spooner killed him.
Spooner's trial begins this week in Milwaukee, with only one black juror.
Spooner, who is charged with first-degree murder, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. This, despite the fact that, the morning of the murder, he told a local alderman, "There are other ways to deal with situations," after complaining that police had not arrested his young neighbor.
There are supposed to be "no similarities" between this case and George Zimmerman's killing of Trayvon Martin, "except for the race of the victims," as if that's irrelevant. Of course it is relevant. It's also not the only similarity in the cases.
Both unarmed black boys were specifically targeted by not-black men carrying guns who suspected them of robberies they had not committed. Both of the not-black men carrying guns had a habit of calling 911 to report "suspicious activity" in their neighborhoods. Both of the victims were treated like criminals: Trayvon is black boy who went on trial for his own murder [credit: Syreeta McFadden], and Darius is a black boy whose body laid on the sidewalk for two hours, while his mother was questioned in a police car, their home was searched, and his older brother was arrested for having truancy tickets.
Will there be justice for Darius Simmons? Milwaukee, we are watching.