By Lynda L. Jones, Editor
Milwaukee joined 100 cities from across the nation and held a rally in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Milwaukee to protest the George Zimmerman acquittal of killing Trayvon Martin. The rallies were part of a nationwide organizational effort put together by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
In Milwaukee and around the country, speakers at the rallies called on the U.S Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman in the death of Martin.
One of speakers, radio talk show host Sherwin Hughes, of WNOV AM 860 stated that “the jury got it wrong” in its failure to find Zimmerman guilty.
Mike Wilder, of the African American Roundtable spoke on behalf of the organization: “The African- American Roundtable is saddened, but unfortunately not shocked by the recent jury acquittal of George Zimmerman for the senseless murder of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin. We have the Martin family and other families of slain African- American males in our prayers. Like the murder of Emmett Till, Trayvon’s murder is the continuation of an unjust and shameful system that regards black lives as more threatening and less valuable than white lives,” said Mike Wilder co-director of the African American Roundtable.
“We strongly oppose “Stand your Ground” laws, such as the one in Florida, which allowed an unarmed teenager to be gunned down in the streets. We call on every citizen who believes in fairness to demand that the criminal justice system be reformed to ensure justice for all, regardless of race. We call on every citizen who values the sanctity of freedom to oppose destructive legislation like “Stand Your Ground” or the “Castle Doctrine”. Furthermore, we call on the U.S. Justice Department to file charges against Mr. Zimmerman for his violation of Trayvon Martin’s civil rights and to look into possible hate crime charges. The right to live shouldn’t come with conditions and there can be no dispute that Trayvon Martin had the civil right to walk home in peace the night George Zimmerman attacked him,” said Rosalynn Wolfe, co-director of the Roundtable.
“Lastly, we call on the American Legislative Exchange Council (or ALEC) to put as much time and energy into repealing these murderous “stand your ground” and “castle doctrine” laws, as it did into passing them. Ultimately, it is the nations largest corporations, and the elected officials they’ve bought and paid for, that are responsible for the murder of Trayvon. We must be equally outraged and hold them equally accountable by requiring them to use their resources to remedy the problem they created. Justice for Trayvon Martin,” finished Wilder.
Also participating in Saturday’s rally was Patricia Larry, mother of Darius Simmons, the 13 year-old teen who was shot and killed by a White elderly neighbor, John Spooner. Larry finally received some closure to her son’s case on Monday, when Judge Jeffery Wagner sentenced Spooner to life in prison with no parole.
Wagner said, “There should never be any light in the tunnel for you. This is one of the worst of the worst.” Wagner also ordered Spooner to pay $58,551 in restitution to the Simmons family.
Hughes said that Saturday’s event was “heartwarming, very integrated and peaceful.” And his reaction to the life sentenced of Spooner, he said, “Although the verdict was a relief in this case, it does not bring the 13 yearold back. And sets a low standard for human life.”
Prior to the sentencing of Spooner, and before Spooner even spoke in court one of Hughes’ talk show listeners called in to the show and shared his own experience with Spooner. The caller, a felon was in jail during the same time period that Spooner was being held and heard Spooner say many times that he taught Simmons a lesson by killing him. He said that Spooner never even tried to pretend that he had any regret for killing the boy.
Days later, against his attorney’s advice Spooner spoke at his own trial, and repeated exactly what the caller said he said.
Hughes said that the sad thing about this potential witness, was the fact that he was a felon, and had the prosecution used him or others from jail as witnesses, the defense would have torn them apart just for being felons.
Hughes also stated that several weeks ago on his talk show another listener called in, who described himself as an elderly White man, who owns rental properties in Milwaukee’s inner city. He proudly stated that when ever he goes to mow the lawn at his properties, located in Black neighborhoods he has a gun on him at all times, and that if anyone approaches him, he would not hesitate to shoot to kill.
Hughes thanked him for his call and his honesty and he added, that if the man ever went through with this threat, the tape from his call into the station can be used at his trial.