Jelani Day, a Black Illinois State University graduate student, was reported missing Aug. 24, in Bloomington, Illinois, according to CNN. CNN said Day’s vehicle was found two days later in Peru, Illinois, and on Sept. 4, his body was found in the Illinois River.
Carmen Bolden Day, Day’s mother, had to wait nearly a month before she was finally able to see her son. His body was not positively identified until Sept. 23 — 18 days after it was found — even with dental records, Chicago Sun-Times said.
The neglect of the authorities to thoroughly investigate the death of Day displays anti-Blackness within the U.S. criminal justice system.
There were many discrepancies concerning what actually happened to Day. According to NBC Chicago, Day’s mother requested an independent autopsy to be done, because of this they found there were contradicting facts between the first and second autopsies.
The U.S. justice system never seems to show interest in the solving of murder cases concerning Black people.
Day’s case was publicized on social media in the wake of the search for Gabby Petito, a white woman who was reported missing earlier this year.
People on social media began to realize Petito’s case was receiving more attention than numerous Black people that had gone missing around the same time, like Day.
The criminal justice system appeared to work in Petito’s favor. They found out what happened to her fairly quickly after she was reported missing. Why is there never a sense of urgency from the justice system to solve the murders of Black people?
Day's mother spoke in an interview with BNC in response to the local police agencies’ response to her son’s disappearance.
“It didn’t seem to me that Bloomington was putting any effort into finding my son nor Peru,” she said. “The only people that was looking for my son was me, my children, my friends and people that I didn’t know.”
Black families should not need their own private investigations to find out what happened to their loved ones. If family members are doing the work that the police and other agencies within the criminal justice system should be doing, this makes people question the efficacy of the criminal justice system.
While there have been studies that attempt to deny anti-Blackness within the criminal justice system, the facts and reality of many Black people in America tell a different story.
A statistic sheet provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Black people are more likely to be victims of homicide than any other race. According to The Washington Post, while Black people are more likely to be victims of homicide, they are still the least likely among racial groups to have their murders lead to an arrest.
This failure to thoroughly investigate the murders of Black people clearly shows anti-Blackness within the criminal justice system.
People will begin to question: why is there a need for the criminal justice system if people are forced to do the job themselves? Day’s mother and people who were in a community with him should not have to plead for federal authorities to take over his case.
Day’s mother released a statement on Facebook on Oct.11 that read “My son was murdered and my goal and purpose are to find out what happened and hold those responsible accountable!!!”
Jelani Day deserves more. Every single justice department should be thorough in its investigations to ensure that every missing person's case gets the same care and attention.