By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
“It’s hard to believe he’s gone,” said Representative Danny K. Davis (D-7th) late Sunday night as he reminisced about the short life of his 15-year-old grandson Javon Wilson. Wilson was killed November 18 in his Englewood home because of a disagreement over the swapping of a pair of gym shoes for a pair of pants.
Davis, whose political career spans more than 30 years, most notably sponsored the Second Chance Act of 2007(HR 1593). The bill provides transitional assistance to ex-offenders, reducing recidivism and helping to reunite families. It is ironic that Davis, an outspoken critic of the criminal justice system now finds himself so intimately involved with it.
In an interview with the Chicago Crusader, Davis spoke at length about the murder of his grandson, but says he also sympathizes with his grandson’s alleged killers, 16-year-old Tarik Harris and 17-year-old Di’Jae Banks. Both were charged with first-degree murder and home invasion, and denied bail.
Davis recalled that fatal night, saying he had just come from taping his congressional TV show and was at his West Side office when he received a call from the police. “The police commander told me that a tragedy had taken place and that it did not look good and that my grandson had been shot. I asked him where was it located. He gave me the address and I immediately got in my car” Davis said.
In disbelief, Davis called his son who told him his grandson had died. He was driven to his grandson’s home, but said he could not get in because it was a crime scene. He then went to the police station at 727 East 111th Street and waited there for a confirmation. “The police were very kind. They kept me updated and ultimately it was pretty clear that my grandson had died.”
In describing Javon, Davis said, “He was funny, amusing, light-hearted, liked to play tricks, play games. He was full of life. He loved basketball, was a real student at the game. He was an athlete…indeed a student of the game. He liked rap music and was a little bit of a rapper himself. He was a sophomore at Perspectives High School.”
Davis said his grandson had not yet made up his mind what he wanted to do as an adult other than play basketball. “He was pretty cool. He liked to shop…liked designer stuff…. When I would take him shopping, he wanted to look at everything in the store. I’d tell him, ‘look, select something. I don’t have all day….’”
“He liked to make people laugh. He always wanted to play with my telephone and computer. It’s hard to believe that he is gone.”
Referring to the accused offenders Harris and Banks, Davis said, “they knocked on the door and broke the lock. They asked who was it and someone answered the door. They kicked their way in. They had a swapping agreement…swapping items like gym shoes for a few days in exchange for a pair of slacks.”
Davis said at the center of the disagreement was a pair of trousers that had been swapped for a pair of gym shoes. “The person wanted the items back…. The gym shoes had been swapped for a pair of slacks. The person wanted to make the exchange again, changing her mind and demanding the gym shoes back.”
“The swap was between the person who was 17 years old (Banks) and a person who was 14,” said Davis, referring to his grandson’s 14-year-old brother. “He is a very big 14. He supposedly had swapped a pair of new slacks he had purchased with this person for the gym shoes. “My grandson’s brother is a big 14, big enough to wear a size 46. This must have been a pretty big girl,” he said referring to Banks. “As they burst into the house, an argument took place and the 17-year-old had a gun.”
In the midst of the argument, Davis’ grandson was fatally shot.
Davis said the police questioned those in the house at the time of the shooting, including his grandson’s sister, and two brothers, ages 8 and 14.
In reacting to his grandson’s death, Davis said, “I thought it was so unfortunate but the thing that has occurred is that I have spoken with literally hundreds of people who have called me or sent condolences or visited me at my home. He said some had a prayer vigil in front of his office, like Rev. Paul Jakes, a longtime ally.
“I have had expressions of regret from the superintendent of police, the mayor, other law enforcement officials, the States Attorney, Senators Dick Durbin, Senator Mark Kirk, Tammy Duckworth, the entire Congressional Black Caucus, the leadership of the Democrats of the House, the former president of the U.S. called.”
“People have been so kind, so gracious,” said Davis. “I can’t be bitter. I’m remorseful. I hate that it happened. I know that the culprits are in custody, but I feel sorry for them as opposed to dealing any other way. I feel sorry for their families just as I feel sorry for my family and all of the lives that have been disrupted” said Davis.
“I am not excited that they are in custody. I am not wishing anything bad to happen to them. I feel they have a right to be protected as they go through the judicial system. I feel like we have to put forth every effort that we possibly can to try and prevent these occurrences from taking place. We’ve got to have stronger enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of children, teenagers….”
Davis said he doesn’t understand how youth can get their hands on a gun and said what we should be doing with the youth is to teach them how to value life. “We have so many guns around. It’s unbelievable that 13, 14…year-old kids have guns. That ought not be. We ought to have a way to keep that from taking place. I’m frustrated, but I’m searching, looking for every avenue that we can find to try and prevent these occurrences from taking place and to improve the quality of life in our community rather than see it deteriorate.”
“I try to teach my grandchildren not to be on the aggressive end of things, not to hurt people but rather to help them…to love rather than to hate…. It’s hard to believe my grandson is gone.”
Funeral services for Representative Davis’ grandson Javon Wilson will be held Saturday, November 26, 2016, at the Cary Tercentenary African American Episcopal Church, 1448 S. Homan Avenue. The wake is at 10:00 a.m. and funeral at 11 a.m.