By: Com. J
Content Warning: murder / sexual assualt mentioned
On November 22nd, 2021, Suri Davis, a 15 year old Black girl, was dropped off outside her home by her school bus. She sent her parents a group text as she walked into the Willow Hill Apartment Complex in Justice, IL at 3:30 p.m.. She never made it to her family’s apartment. She was shot–fatally, by a male assailant. Her body was discovered near the interior stairs of the building hours later.
The following interview was conducted with Suri’s grieving parents, who have been struggling for justice since the day their daughter’s life was taken. As the weeks have turned into months, the Davis family has grown increasingly desperate for answers as the ongoing investigation has failed to offer any conclusions, resolutions, or even a sense of hope that the authorities of Justice, IL, will do what must be done to hold this young girl’s murderer to account.
The writer believes Suri’s life and her killing reflect the current reality of Black (New Afrikan) people under euro-american imperialism: New Afrikan people are forced to live lives beset on all sides by imperialist violence, femicide, racism, and extreme neo-colonialist exploitation.
J: Tell me a little bit about Suri. What kind of child was she and what did others she was close to think of her?
Mr. & Mrs Davis: Suri was a loving, caring, fun child, full of laughter and life. She was a freshman at Argo High School in Summit, IL. She was passionate and a hard worker, whether it was working on her latest projects for school, spending hours typing her papers before deadlines, or helping peers out on missing work. She also stood up for others, letting her teachers know if someone was being bullied by another student, which she had no tolerance for. She had dreams of one day becoming a choreographer or veterinarian. She had big dreams, with the biggest smile when she talked about them.
Suri was a wonderful child who looked forward to growing and reaching her full potential by truly making a positive difference in this world. She had already impacted so many lives from her family, genuine friendships, and teachers. People absolutely loved and adored her.
We just want people to know she was a 15 year old girl. She was a 100% kid. She was excited about her sweet 16 birthday. Suri was big on family & a daddy’s girl.
How long has your family lived in Justice, IL and how did you come to live there?
We moved to Justice, IL from the Southside of Chicago in 2019. My wife and I were searching for a new place to raise our family that was affordable, safe for our children, and was a reasonable commute to work. The violence was getting so bad in our area in Chicago, we knew we had to leave for the safety of our family. We started looking and found Willow Hill Apartments online. It looked like the best option for our family. In their listing, they offered 24 hour security, along with community spaces that seemed nice. We thought moving to the suburbs would be safe. But when we moved in we realized Justice is exactly like Chicago.
Can you tell me a little bit about the town of Justice? Were there incidents like this before in the area?
Justice, IL is a southwest suburb of Chicago, not too far from Midway Airport. It’s about 70% white and 20% Black. It seemed like a nice place to raise a family. We just kept to ourselves really – going to work, school, and extracurricular activities. We never heard anything alarming about Willow Hill Apartments complex either until my daughter’s murder. But since then, we’ve found out a lot that makes us rethink everything. Violence plagued the building. Not too long after Suri was killed, we found out two other women were shot in our complex. We also found out there had recently been a woman who was raped and an armed a robbery in the complex as well.
What do you think happened that day?
We believe our daughter was murdered after coming home from school. She was getting off the bus service right before her death. We believe she knew the killer, an acquaintance from elementary school, but not someone she knew well. We believe she was targeted because she is a positive person who loved everybody and was admired by many. Some people just hate those characteristics. She made it in our apartment building fine, but unfortunately she did not make it into our apartment unit.
A few of the #Justice4Suri movement demands are directed at the landlord of the building your family lived in. What has the landlord done in response to the incident? Have there been any instances in the past where the landlord has neglected the safety of tenants?
The building complex we lived in was called the Willow Hills Apartment complex, and it was managed by Kenneth Owens, property manager with Waterton Management. When we first moved in, we noticed a lot of activity (people selling drugs & running through the buildings at night). There were a lot of security measures that were advertised but not happening at the complex. Over a year ago, we made a complaint about the complex’s security, to which management never responded. The day of Suri’s murder, there was a camera at the entrance of the building, but it had been tampered with and was never fixed by management. All they did was pick up the rent.
After Suri’s murder, instead of a condolence letter or any show of sympathy for our family’s loss, Waterton Management sent a letter to residents labeling this horrendous act as a “property incident” by Waterton Managment. Furthermore, soon after we were sent a 5 day eviction notice and $750 dollars, which we are still confused by. We feel the property managment never took security seriously in the building and inappropriately advertised it’s security.
What has the Justice Police Department or Cook County Sheriff’s Department been doing in regards to this case?
Since the very beginning of this investigation, the Justice Police have been doing very little. Anytime we try to get answers or updates, we get nothing and are told they can’t discuss anything because it’s an open investigation. It’s been two months since Suri died and we have had no progress. The police had brought in a person suspected of killing Suri only to immediately release him from custody. Cook County Sheriffs are not doing anything that we are aware of.
Honestly, the open investigation shield is very disheartening when you demand answers. We have heard no word from the Mayor of Justice or any city official, despite our attempts to reach out. It feels like the state wants to bury this case and pretend like it never happened, or they really don’t care. To them, it’s just another Black girl dead. The system does seem to only care about the white people in Justice. Why is the town even named Justice? We can’t even get justice for our child.
We reached out to Kim Foxx (Cook County State’s Attorney) for support as well with no word back. We want justice for Suri and we don’t want her case to go cold like so many others.
What are the outcomes you’re hoping for from the march on February 5th?
We want answers for our daughter’s death. We want the person or persons held accountable. We want justice for Suri.
Suri Davis’ death and the events that led up to her killing expose the veiled reality of Black (New Afrikan) people living under the racist system of white supremacy and imperialism.
There is a lot that could be said about the situation, and these matters will be expanded upon in a longer follow up piece to this interview. However, there are a few things that are clear: the rotten system Suri Davis and so many other Black children live under does not serve or protect them.
Like thousands of Black families over the last 20 years, the Davis’ were forced to leave the city due to the continuously worsening violence and ever-deteriorating conditions that plague Chicago’s Southside. The Davis family left in hopes of escaping that danger, only to find the same realities in Justice, IL.
James Yaki Sayles reminds us this is not an accident, but done by design: “Afrikan Inner city removal is a nationwide strategic objective of those who rule amerikkka. This objective is made necessary in large part by the deepening economic crisis, and the threat of political/social revolution.” The system creates the conditions for people like the Davis family to leave seeking a better home, only to wind up in more precarious situations.
Due to their proximity to job sites in the city, nearby suburbs like Justice have become places to isolate fleeing Black populations. With a 70% white population, the town is dominated by the white (euro-settler) political machine. In contrast, Butch Lee writes in Night Vision, “Now the historic New Afrikan ‘inner city’ is being increasingly depopulated, scattering Black communities to both prisons and a spread of outlying small towns. Which are a new system of reservations, outside the real economy and society, where New Afrikans of the ‘dangerous class’ can be penned up—not for labor but for gradual elimination.”
The Black population of Justice is small, only 20% of the village’s demographic makeup. However, 90% of Black people in Justice live in a quarter square mile radius, which allows for the police to more easily monitor or ignore the Black population as they see fit. Indeed, there is a police station located directly across the street from Willow Hill Apartments, which gave the Davis family a much-needed sense of safety and security. Willow Hill Apartments fall in the Justice, IL jurisdiction. Incredibly, the police station directly across from the Davises does not serve Justice, it serves the nearby suburb of Hickory Hills. When the Davises went to that station in search of assistance after the shooting, the police turned them away, saying they would not serve them.
In the small area of Justice to which the Black residents are relegated, two of the three housing complexes, one being Willow Hill Apartments, are managed by Kenneth Owens of Waterton Management. Access to safe and adequate housing has long been one of the core struggles of Black and oppressed people–access which the system has constantly denied.
Months before Suri was killed, the Davis family had raised concerns about the complex’s security. These concerns went unanswered. The reality is that the residents of Willow Hill are not afforded secure housing because they are not deemed important. Kenneth Owens showed his true class allegiance to imperialism when he neglected his properties and didn’t respond to the concerns of his tenants (not to mention his attempt to evict the tenants after Suri’s murder and referring it as a “property incident”).
The landlord Kenneth Owens didn’t protect Suri because he only cares about the rent being on time, not the safety of the New Afrikan families who live in his apartments. The Mayor of Justice, Kris Wasowicz, seems to care even less. His silence says it all. The town of Justice would rather sweep this all under the rug and forget it ever happened. The Justice Police have not given the family any answers to the progress of the case. While Suri’s killer is still free, and the police drag their knuckles, the family is on the move demanding answers and justice.
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All power to the people!
Meditations on Franz Fanon’s ‘Wretched of the Earth’ by James “Yaki” Sayles
Night Vision: Illuminating War and Class on Neo-colonial Terrain by Butch Lee and Red Rover