Stop the Violence

by  

Remembering Eric

During the earlier part of June, I was covering a court case related to the 1994 death of Eric Morse. The little boy’s mother, Toni Morse, filed suit through her attorney, Christopher Millet, on the CHA and two private companies for the death of her son on Oct. 13, 1994.

In the lawsuit, the Morse family attorneys charged the CHA and the companies responsible for Eric’s death because they failed to secure the vacant 14th floor apartment from where Eric was dropped by two other boys. Morse was seeking an unspecified amount of money.

The trial lasted for about three weeks and was held in the Cook County Circuit Court. The first couple of days, they selected the jury. I began going to court for the testimonies given by the witnesses. The mother was drilled for hours. One of the attorneys for CHA, Elizabeth Knight, tried to accuse the mother of abuse and neglect. Knight suggested some of the blame should be on the mother’s history of drug use.

At first, the family asked for $60 million. The lawyers for CHA remarked that the figure “was enough to rebuild the entire CHA.”

The death of this child and any other deserves no laughter. My son’s death wasn’t given enough care or time for an investigation. I was told since there was no eye witness, nothing could be done.

The two children held responsible for the death of Eric Morse were 10 and 11 at the time. It is alleged that they both signed confessions. They were found guilty in Juvenile Court in 1995 and were sentenced to a maximum of 5 years in a special juvenile detention facility.

One of the kids has been released but the second remains in custody because he sexually assaulted another inmate while he was being held for murdering Eric.

On the day of the killing, the mother was going from house to house, according to her testimony, looking for her two sons, Eric and 8-year-old Derrick Lemon. The two boys were together. She has 8 children in all.

Toni Morse explained that at 6:30 that night, she decided that it was time for them to come home. An hour later, Derrick found her at a relative’s home and told her “Eric had fell.”

Morse testified that she ran across the field to a high-rise at 3833 S. Langley Ave. Her baby was on the ground with people standing around him. He was still breathing. An ambulance came and they took him to Wyler’s Children Hospital. Thirty minutes later, he was dead.

The mother testified for over 40 minutes, allowed to rest for a while and then testified some more. She said the boy was her favorite. He was the youngest and he just kept her laughing all the time. When her testimony was over, after she had pleaded with the lawyers that she didn’t want to keep reliving the incident, she looked up as if talking to her dead son and said, “I miss you, Eric.”

Stop the Criminalization of our Communities
A march took place June 19th, starting at Douglas Park at 19th Street and California Avenue. The people gathered together and proceeded to march to 26th Street and California Avenue, the location of the criminal courts building and the many new and old jailhouses here in Chicago.

They marched to bring attention to the problems of the people who are not free, those who are not free to pursue life, liberty and justice in Illinois.

They marched on that day – called Juneteenth – because on June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, enslaved African Americans were given their freedom  some two years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

They marched because many African Americans feel they still are not free because of public policy that keeps them imprisoned in poverty, minimum wage jobs and low-class housing. They marched so people of all races and religions can come together for better wages, affordable housing, a good education and full-time jobs. They were marching for freedom and rallying for justice.

They rallied to hip the people to the fact that once the ex-offenders have served their time, they should be given a second chance to contribute to society and to their families.

The ex-offender should be able to get his/her records erased after a proper amount of time has passed. Their records should be expunged of certain non-violent crimes and crimes where children were put in no harm.

The marchers wanted to bring attention to the over 400 men and women who are “C-numbered prisoners.” These prisoners are just in there. They have no release date. Prisoners who have served their time or those who have been in jail for a long period but are model prisoners should be given a second chance, the marchers said.

The marchers were there for all African Americans and their Hispanic brothers and sisters and all areas throughout the state to stop the criminalization of our families and communities. They invited us all to come out at the next march to let our voices be heard.

Our own Wateka Kleinpeter was one of the hosts this year. Here are a few of the many co-sponsors: Youth Services Project Inc., TASC Inc., Residents’ Journal, Rainbow PUSH, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Prison Action Committee, Paternal Involvement Project, Outreach Church of God in Christ, National Task Force for Political Empowerment, Kuumba LYDX, Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights, Centro Sin Fronteras, Black United Fund of Illinois and the African-American Family Commission.

Job Fair
U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7) had his very own job fair on June 16. Davis convened the event to discuss all the issues including drug and substance abuse counseling and health care. Held in cooperation with the 7th Congressional District’s Ex-Offender’s Task Force, this town hall meeting was held at the Westside Baptist Ministers conference Center, 325 S. California Ave.

Stevie Perry On Aug. 14, Stevie Perry was shot in the head while sitting in the living room of their home. Stevie was 10 years old. I first heard this news on the television news the following day.

The same night, there was a march against violence on the West Side, my side of town. The march took place in front of Stevie’s home at Lawndale and Ohio. The marchers said they were tired of the killing.

The next day, I went to the Area 4 police headquarters, 3141 W. Harrison St., and learned police had arrested a suspect in the killing. He had been apprehended and confessed to the crime. He had a bond hearing on Aug. 16.

John Walsh, the star of the television show called “America’s Most Wanted,” was in Chicago recently. Walsh’s show gets the people to help catch criminals by calling in and getting involved. Walsh was in Deerfield signing copies of the book he wrote on the death of his son.

Walsh also was working on the case of Diamond and Tionda Bradley, the two sisters that disappeared on July 6. No one has heard from them since. Walsh said someone knows something and expressed his thought these two children are in trouble. Anyone who has information should call 1-800-CRIME TV.

Let’s all do what ever we can do to stop killing the children.

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