CHAMPAIGN, Ill – Rev. Jesse Jackson was among about a dozen who called the state to act in the wake of the burial of Jelani Day Tuesday afternoon.
Day was buried in Danville Thursday morning. The late 25-year-old Illinois State University graduate student was reported missing on Aug. 25. His body was later found in the Illinois River on Sept. 4. Three weeks later, law enforcement confirmed the body was Day.
That’s why Rev. Jackson, his son Jonathan Jackson and about a dozen pastors gathered at the Grove Street Church of God in Christ in Champaign directly following the burial. The group made a call to action to bring closure to a mourning family.
“Right now the investigation, it appears, 55 days later, is just beginning,” Jonathan Jackson said.
“We’re here because Black and Brown lives matter,” Bishop Tavis Grant repeated as heads.
Grant is the field director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, an international human and civil rights organization founded by Rev. Jackson, and the group that is making noise about their frustration surrounding the ongoing investigation into Day’s death.
“A young man with honors. An honorable young man from an honorable family,” Jonathan Jackson said, describing Day. Jackson is the national spokesperson for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
Rev. Jackson called on Governor J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to get involved. He said he wants the state to unite behind finding out what happened to the 25-year-old graduate student from Danville.
“So far, his office has been too silent,” Rev. Jackson added.
The group at the Champaign church’s podium stood united in that call to action, to find answers and not let the case go cold.
“We’re here to light up the trail and turn up the heat. We want justice and we want closure for this family,” Grant summarized.
Day’s cause of death has not been released. Police have only said that the case is “unusual” and “suspicious”, and foul play has not been ruled out.
The FBI is leading the investigation. State Police, Bloomington Police, Peru Police, and the LaSalle County sheriff’s and coroner’s offices are all involved.
“We should seek justice, not just for Black and Brown, but for everybody,” concluded Rev. Charles Nash.
The president of the Ministerial Alliance of Champaign-Urbana added, “But especially the Black and Brown community in this day in time because it seems like they are not getting a fair shake.”
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition also announced they’ll be meeting in Peru County next Tuesday. The plan was to put together a march and gather some information about what happened to Day themselves.