By Reverend Willie E. Brisco
Rev. Willie Brisco is President, Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope, MICAH, and Associate Minister, New Covenant Baptist Church. Rev. Brisco was called to the ministry in 2009 after a 25-year distinguished career in law enforcement and corrections. Rev. Willie Brisco retired as the Deputy Superintendent of the Milwaukee County House of Correction.
As Deputy of Milwaukee County House of Correction, in 2008, Rev. Willie Brisco was on the first panel of Creative Forces TV: Spiritual Freedom through Art and Education, produced and sponsored by MATA Community Media available @ http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/PeaceOfMind/CreativeForcesTVShow
Since his election to the president’s office of MICAH in 2010, Rev. Willie Brisco continues to be a creative force in Milwaukee, working to unite this city and lift it up from the mire of racism, and competition for funding to an era of cooperation and collaboration. The Reverend inspired the 2012 “Hands Across the Viaduct” movement, further linking today to the Civil Rights mission of the 1960s, uniting Latinos and African Americans. In addition, Reverend Brisco has served MICAH’s parent organizations, WISDOM at the state level, and the Gamaliel Foundation on the national level. Currently, he serves as WISDOM’s representative to Gamaliel’s African-American Leadership Commission.
I have been struggling to put the events of that night (at the special meeting at Rufus King High School regarding the Darius Simmons homicide) into some sort of perspective that would give me a sense of closure. Whenever an event or situation leaves me with a restless spirit, I become determined to listen to what God is trying to tell me. I approached this meeting with the expectations that the police chief and the mayor would address the public in a sincere and forthright manner in regards to their concerns about the police department’s actions at the scene of the crime.
I had no intentions of speaking at this event, because I was satisfied with the gestures of both the offices of the mayor and police chief. They had shown that they can reach out to religious and community leaders to give assurances that justice would be done, and to give their account of the conduct of the first responders to the murder scene. I then looked forward to them giving to the general public the same courtesy that they had accorded to the NAACP, MICAH and a representative from Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition in Chicago.
On Thursday night, July 12, 2012, after the mayor gave his remarks, followed by remarks from Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, followed by the chief and a representative from the homicide bureau, the chief announced that he had a prior engagement and he and the mayor exited the building. They did not listen to one concern from the public. In his brief speech, the police chief defended his department’s actions and made no concessions as to consider that, given hindsight, they might have gone about anything differently. I, along with all the citizens who attended this meeting, was greatly disappointed that, after a whole week of anticipating this meeting, we were going to be denied the opportunity to be heard.
During the pre-meeting conducted on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at the office of the NAACP Milwaukee Branch, I cautioned those in attendance to measure their criticism and frustration, because we were making great strides and that doors were now open to allow for further communication and bridging the gap between police and community relations. When these city officials walked out of the room July 12, I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach and at that moment, betrayal also.
The representative from the homicide bureau had shed new light on information that we were previously been given when we spoke with the chief in his office. We had been previously told that both the suspect’s and the victim’s homes had been searched. We found out this night that it was only the home of Darius’s mother, and that Mr. Spooner’s relatives were escorted into his home and allowed to remove personal items. We also learned that the previous timeline that was given for Mrs. Larry’s detention in the squad was now different. I mention these discrepancies, not to be overly critical or suspicious, but to remind us all that there is nothing on this earth that is absolutely perfect, and that there is no policy and procedure that should not lend itself to common sense in situational responses.
If ever there was a case of a smoking gun, it is this case, thus lending itself to a more thoughtful and considerate handling of the victims. I regret the statement I made July 12 that “I would not trust the mayor or police chief again.” I ask God to charge that to my head and not to my heart because I stand more committed now than ever before to be a part of the solution to the problems of this community, rather than a hindrance. I stand committed to work with the police department to bring about trust and cooperation in this community; and with that being said and duly noted, I can clearly say that my spirit is at rest.
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