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Too Many Dead Bodies

Who is killing Ferguson protesters?

I heard about his death weeks ago. Danye Jones, the son of Ferguson activist, Melissa McKinnies, was found hanging from a tree in his mom’s backyard. I heard about it and I’ll be honest, I tried very hard to push the details of his death out of my head. I had never finished grieving over the deaths of the dozens of black people who were murdered — and are still being murdered — by police, and every single name added to the list of people to grieve consumed me.

I heard that there were pictures going around of Jones’ dead body. After the ceaselessly trending topics of the police killings that made me more sensitive to images of real-life death, I tried my hardest to avoid any pictures or posts with his name. I wanted to protect my sanity.

Then I saw it. Earlier today, while scrolling through the “In case you missed it” part of Twitter, I saw his body. I will not post it here, but in the pictures, his pants were down and his hands were tightly clenched into fists. And despite me being aware of the existence of the pictures, every bit of my ancestors’ DNA in my veins screamed. Again. It was happening again.

I couldn’t describe the amount of helplessness I felt looking at those pictures. He was so young — 24 years old — and he was hanging from a tree. In 2018. My ancestors inside me wept for so long. Generations of pain swept through my body, my depression sinking in further. Black people as a race have progressed so far…and yet, we didn’t. We’re still in the 19th Century, where our bodies are still being hung from trees. We still are targeted because of our skin. Here was yet another young black man stolen from the world far too soon.

Melissa McKinnies believes her son was murdered — lynched — and I believe her. With all the racially-motivated attacks toward black people and other people of color in the news recently, I would be remiss and naive to blindly believe this couldn’t be a homicide as well.

Melissa McKinnies, I am so sorry. I hate the world did this to you. I hate the world did this to your son.

I didn’t know Danye Jones personally, but I know it wasn’t a suicide. Everything in my bones says it wasn’t. There are skeptics, and there will always be, but sometimes, you just know. My ancestors know. I know. Danye Jones’ mom knows.

Edward Crawford returns a tear gas canister fired by police who were trying to disperse protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 13, 2014.| Robert Cohen / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Zuma Press

Danye Jones’ death marks the fourth death relating to the Ferguson protests since the infamous 2014 murder of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. Brown’s unfortunate death sparked protests about racism and unarmed police killings. Beginning in Ferguson, movements sprouted up all around America, with hundreds of people marching together in the name of social justice.

During these protests, people such as Darren Seals and Edward Crawford were in the media often. They often talked about important change that needed to happen in Ferguson, in America. They influenced crowds and inspired masses. People were really feeling as if things could change for the better. However, in the years after Michael Brown’s death, Dendre Joshua and key activists Darren Seals and Edward Crawford were all found dead.

  • DeAndre Joshua, a close friend to Dorian Johnson — key witness in the Michael Brown case — was found shot in the head, inside a car that was lit on fire. He was found dead the night it was announced Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the Michael Brown case. His death is still unsolved.
  • Darren Seals — an activist in the Ferguson community and friend to the Brown family — was also found shot dead, inside of a car that was set on fire. He was very outspoken and his name was familiar during the protests in Ferguson. His death is still unsolved.

All three deaths are similar, and in my opinion, too similar to simply be ruled out as suicide. Added to the list, Danye Jones — who’s mother is a Ferguson activist as well — makes the reality quite frightening.

Someone is killing people related to the Ferguson protests. Who is it? These people cannot all be killing themselves and I’m not the only one who thinks this. Many people believe the cases remain unsolved because of police negligence.

This world is horrifying to live in. All anyone mentioned in this article ever did was be black and concerned about the disproportionate deaths of other black people. Is that enough to sentence them to die? Is that enough to allow their cases to continue not to be investigated or solved?

When will the line be drawn? What will it take to get more people paying attention and asking questions about these glaring injustices?

As black people, we have struggled through hundreds of years of lynchings — and with Danye Jones’ death adding another to the list, are we supposed to get used to the idea of another hundred years of this? I really, really hope not.

Click Here to Donate to Melissa Mckinnies’ GoFundMe

Mikaila Simone | IG: @mikailaisawesome