Jelani Day’s cousin reflects on protest, coroner statement

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Photo Courtesy of Alex Gant/The Vidette

Jelani Day’s family and many supporters gathered in Peru, Illinois, Tuesday hoping to drive a deeper investigation into the death of the former Illinois State University graduate student. Among the supporters was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose Rainbow PUSH Coalition helped organize Tuesday’s march/ Day was found dead in the Illinois River in Peru on Sept. 4.

By Gwyn Skiles, Features Editor

On Tuesday, hundreds gathered in Peru, Illinois to march alongside Rev. Jesse Jackson and Carmen Bolden Day, mother of Jelani Day, protesting for answers to Jelani Day’s death.

At the march, participants saw first hand where the 25-year-old graduate student’s body was found face down in the Illinois River.

Jelani Day’s family and many supporters gathered in Peru, Illinois, Tuesday hoping to drive a deeper investigation into the death of the former Illinois State University graduate student. Among the supporters was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose Rainbow PUSH Coalition helped organize Tuesday’s march/ Day was found dead in the Illinois River in Peru on Sept. 4. (Photo Courtesy of Alex Gant/The Vidette)

Emone’ Davis, Jelani Day’s cousin and alumna of the University, was in the front lines of the protest, fighting for answers to her cousin’s death.

“With the protests, being there, in Peru, it was very significant because we wanted the people to see everything for themselves,” Davis said. “We were able to stop at every spot and show the people what (has) been thrown at us with this whole case.”

Davis said it was heartwarming to see all of the people, many she said were students at the University, coming out to support her family.

“I didn’t know how many people or who was going to be there,” Davis said. “But just to see all of those cars lined up, charter buses flowing in from different schools and to show up in Peru, Illinois supporting the cause, which is “Justice for Jelani Day,” was just a beautiful moment to see and just the beginning of that as well.”

Jelani Day’s family and many supporters gathered in Peru, Illinois, Tuesday hoping to drive a deeper investigation into the death of the former Illinois State University graduate student. Among the supporters was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose Rainbow PUSH Coalition helped organize Tuesday’s march/ Day was found dead in the Illinois River in Peru on Sept. 4. (Photo Courtesy of Alex Gant/The Vidette)

However, Davis said it was difficult to be back in the place where her cousin’s body was found.

“I can’t even describe the feeling,” Davis said. “Just to be in a town where they pronounced my cousin to be missing and deceased. It was so disturbing, but I was proud to be there because of the cause that I was there for. To knowing that we’re here to seek justice, and to find answers because none of this makes sense.”

On Monday, the LaSalle County Coroner released a statement that said drowning was Jelani Day’s cause of death. How he got in the water remains unknown.

Davis said the report was insulting.

“I felt as if it was kind of insulting and disrespectful just to hear a statement as if Jelani Day was found drowned with no foul play,” Davis said. “Because this isn’t a suicide as people have been trying to insinuate it to be. This is definitely a murder.”

Jelani Day’s mother Carmen Bolden-Day joins hands with Rev. Jesse Jackson at the march for Jelani on Tuesday Oct. 26. Family and many supporters gathered in Peru, Illinois, to drive a deeper investigation into the death of the former Illinois State University graduate student. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition helped organize Tuesday’s march. (Photo Courtesy of Alex Gant/The Vidette)

Davis and her family continue to put pressure on the FBI to conduct a thorough investigation.

“Looking for the FBI and other necessary higher ups to not just oversee this case but investigate it firsthand and take it over,” Davis said in a text message. “It’s been too long for us, the family, to not have answers on what happened to Jelani.”

 

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