Jelani Day’s family voices discontent to elected leaders about death investigation

Jelani Day's mother and brother speak to the Bloomington City Council.
Jelani Day's mother and brother speak to the Bloomington City Council.(25 News/Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 9:21 PM CST
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BLOOMINGTON (HEART OF ILLINOIS ABC) - Jelani Day’s brother and mother expressed their displeasure to Bloomington aldermen Monday night about how police have handled the Illinois State University graduate student’s death last year.

At Monday night’s city council meeting, Seve Day called his sibling’s death a “hate crime” and said the investigation conducted by several police agencies is lackluster and shows disrespect.

“We want the FBI to take over the case and this hate crime against my brother, so my family doesn’t have to go through another holiday, birthday, week, month, day, without closure,” Seve Day said.

Jelani’s mother, Carmen Bolden Day, said Police Chief Jamal Simington has contacted her just twice, the last time on October 13th to brief her on the case. She also wants to see video of her son visiting a Twin-Cities marijuana dispensary before he died.

Bolden Day pleaded with city council members to put themselves in her position.

“Consider my sleepless nights, the nightmares, the agony of not knowing the horrors of your child’s final hours, my endless tears, the continual fight to seek and secure answers when there is silence all around me,” said Bolden Day.

Jelani Day was living in Bloomington and was attending graduate school at ISU when he was reported missing. His body was found in the Illinois River in LaSalle County. The coroner said an autopsy labeled Day’s death as a drowning.

Rev. Jesse Jackson and prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump have come to Bolden-Day’s aid to help her find out what happened to her son.

Council delays vote on automatic license plate readers amid ACLU concerns

The city council, meantime, delayed a vote to allow for more public input on a request for Bloomington Police to use mainly private money to buy automatic license plate readers.

The American Civil Liberties Union and a local Black Lives Matter chapter indicated they were opposed to idea.

The ACLU said in a letter to council members that, “Communicating with citizens prior to approval of such an invasive technology will increase their sense of trust, however, communication after the fact increases their lack of trust in the police and city government.”

Council members Sheila Montney and Nick Becker opposed the delay, suggesting the technology might help police solve cases like Jelani Day’s death.

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