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Ben Crump and Jesse Jackson are calling on the FBI to look further into the death of Jelani Day.

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Nearly 100 days have passed since the tragic disappearance and death of Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day, and his family is no closer to answers or accountability for who is responsible for cutting his life short. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is representing Day’s family in the fight for justice. ABC 7 reports that Crump came to Chicago on Friday to hold a press conference with Rev. Jesse Jackson to demand that the U.S. attorney general and FBI take over the investigation and consider it a rather than a suspicious accident or suicide.

“Jelani was our fraternity brother, a member of Omega Psi Phi,” Crump said. “So beyond the fact that he was one of the most promising, one of the most gifted, one of the most intelligent Black men that we have to offer the world, he was also my frat brother. So that’s why we declare to make him a priority. He will be the face of Black and missing in America.”

Since the medical student went missing on Aug. 24, Day’s mother Carmen Bolden Day has said since she suspected foul play in what happened to her son. She reported that law enforcement and the coroner’s office have been dragging their feet, treating her and her son with disrespect, and refusing to hold anyone accountable for Jelani’s death, but Jelani himself.

In October, the coroner finally identified Day’s cause of death as drowning after he was recovered from the Illinois River. However, the report implies that Day entered the river on his own and drowned himself.

“I know I’m not the first mother who has lost a child, but when you lose a child and don’t know why, you don’t know what happened. … I don’t know how you cannot stop insisting that the people who have made pledges to protect and serve find the answers for you. I know that they are not magicians, but my son went missing,” Bolden Day said at Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters.

Ahead of the press conference, Crump’s law firm posted a statement demanding the FBI invest as much effort and resources into Day as they did for Gabby Petito, whose manhunt was so compelling that dozens of missing people’s remains were discovered before they found her body weeks after she disappeared.

“Day’s case has received significantly less attention, revealing a deeply concerning disparity in the way missing persons cases are treated and covered for people of color.”

We are glad to see Jesse Jackson and Ben Crump working to get Jelani Day’s family the answers they deserve. Let’s hope the FBI responds and delivers.


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