Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump has called on the FBI to conduct a federal investigation into the death of Jelani Day, who was a graduate student at Illinois State University, as a hate crime, the Insider reports.
On Friday, during a press conference in Chicago, Crump accompanied by Carmen Bolden Day, Jelani's mother, said they are "demanding that the United States Attorney General instructs the FBI to investigate this matter as a hate crime investigation because none of it adds up."
“If that was your child, would you accept what the local police are trying to tell this mother?" Crump said. "We can't say just because he's a young Black man that we're going to let them sweep his death under the rug and we're not going to give it the dedication and attention that we give to young white people like Gabby Petito who got all the attention in the world."
As EBONY previously reported, Day, who was a graduate student at Illinois State University, was reported missing in Bloomington, Illinois, on August 25 after he was absent from class for several days. A day later, his vehicle was found 60 miles away in a wooded area near Peru in LaSalle County.
According to reports by NBC Chicago, Day’s family harshly criticized the investigation into his disappearance. The family claimed his case has not received the same level of media attention and outcry as other missing persons such as Gabby Petito.
“I shouldn’t have to beg. I shouldn’t have to plead,” Carmen said. “I shouldn’t have to feel, that there is a racial disparity, I shouldn’t have to feel anything like that, I want these people that have these resources to realize this could happen to them.
On September 24, the LaSalle County Coroner’s Office identified a body found earlier this month in the Illinois River as Jelani Day.
At the press conference, Crump also said that he and Day’s family are committed to getting the answers to the questions they’ve been asking since he was first reported missing back in August.
"They were committed to getting the answers for that family,” he said. “Why is it that when someone is Black and they go missing it is not taken seriously? And they try to write it off as if they took their own life. We will not accept it."