Lengthy sentence for Brooks will help Waukesha community heal as parade tragedy anniversary nears, city leaders say

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Darrell Brooks’ lengthy sentence that will keep him behind bars for the rest of his life was an important step toward helping the Waukesha community heal nearly a year after the Christmas parade tragedy, city leaders said Thursday.

Brooks, 40, was sentenced Wednesday to six consecutive life sentences without the possibility of early release after being found guilty of killing six people and injuring dozens more when he drove into the crowded parade on Nov. 21, 2021.

RELATED: Darrell Brooks sentenced to six consecutive life sentences with no chance of early release

Speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon, Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly, a former attorney, said that while the sentencing stood out to him, “it was pretty much a foregone conclusion what the end result was going to be.”

Reilly said he met with some of those who testified against Brooks who said they felt a sense of relief now that the case has concluded.

Brooks’ long sentence also means the community can focus on healing rather than whether justice will be served, he added.

“Getting past the trial does help, I think, the community heal,” he said.

With the trial wrapped up, attention is now shifting to a remembrance ceremony on Monday — the one-year anniversary of last year’s parade — and the upcoming parade on Dec. 4. Reilly said it’s important for the community to come together and celebrate the holiday season.

“If we just decided that we’re no longer going to have community gatherings, that would be letting evil win, and we’re not going to let that happen,” he said.

Monday’s ceremony at Cutler Park will feature remarks from city leaders and Gov. Tony Evers.

Law enforcement agencies and the city have made a number of changes to help attendees feel safe at this year’s parade, including having additional police officers at the scene and barriers to keep vehicles out of the parade zone.

There will also be security measures in place that attendees likely won’t see, Police Chief Dan Thompson said.

Reilly said given that, he won’t be apprehensive to walk in the parade this year.

For those who may not be comfortable attending the event in person, it will also be aired on TV in the Milwaukee area.