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Bishop Grant says Rittenhouse trial is landmark status

Bishop Grant outside of the Kenosha County Courthouse

The Kyle Rittenhouse trial is landmark in terms of race, social justice and civil rights because of the legal barriers already set up—like the names of those that Rittenhouse shot cannot be called victims. But it is one of several trials going on, including those of young Black men, that has Rainbow PUSH Coalition officials on alert.

Asked if these cases involving the deaths of young, Black males were connected, Bishop Grant said, “The common denominator is that they are young, Black males…Jacob Blake, Ahmaud Arbery, where with the use of preemptory challenges 11 whites and one Black will decide the fate of the three white men charged in the Arbery murder.

Bishop Grant said the case of Jelani Day, the 25-year-old Black Illinois State University graduate medical student who was found dead face down in the Illinois River, is another case based on race. Bishop Grant, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., his son, Jonathan Jackson, Carmen Bolden Day, the mother of Jelani Day, Rev. Courtney Carson, national Rainbow PUSH Coalition field director for Central Illinois, and Rev. Cameron Barnes, the Coalition’s national youth director, are calling for the FBI to lead this investigation. They also want Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to also investigate the disappearance and the death of Jelani Day.

Last Friday, November 5, Rev. Jackson and staff attended a “Justice 4 Jelani Day” 2.5-mile march in Bloomington, Illinois, that began at the Bloomington police station. This was the reported route Jelani took before being found in the Illinois River.

The coroner ruled he died by drowning—a conclusion rejected by his mother. “My son did not drown. He could swim, and he would not have parked his car in a remote wooded area, take off his license plates, walk two-and- a-half miles through an all-white town, take off his clothes and jump in that nasty water,” Mrs. Day said, her eyes tearing up. “That just doesn’t make sense. Someone took him there.”

“I need answers,” she told a racially diverse crowd that had marched from the Bloomington police station to the Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center chanting “Justice for Jelani.” Jonathan Jackson commended the crowd singling out several mothers who had brought their children to the march.

Emily Lemons, a mother of three, was one of those Jonathan Jackson mentioned. Lemons, who is white, later told the Chicago Crusader it was important to bring her children to this march. “I cry every day for the mother of Jelani Day even though I don’t know her,” she said. “God made us all,” and she said everyone should be respected.

Bishop Grant did not attend the Jelani Day march because he spent the weekend monitoring the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The then 17-year-old Rittenhouse came from Illinois to Kenosha armed with an AR-17 semi-automatic rifle he says to protect property during a night of protest involving the police-related shooting of 20-year-old Jacob Blake, a Black, who was shot seven times in the back.

During a night of unrest and calls for justice from protesters, Rittenhouse fatally shot Anthony M. Huber 26, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz then 26. If convicted, Rittenhouse faces life in prison.

Rittenhouse is charged with five felony counts, first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety. The now 18-year-old also faces one misdemeanor charge for possession of a dangerous weapon under the age of 18. Gun rights groups have raised more than $500,000 for his defense.

“We are very much concerned that the victims cannot be mentioned in the court proceedings,” Bishop Grant said. “It seems like their lives were taken by the 17-year-old who didn’t have a driver’s license, let alone a permit to carry an automatic weapon in the public.

“Our commitment is to make sure that the victims get justice,” Bishop Grant explained. “It has always been the fight of Rev. Jesse Jackson that we get equal protection under the law. It should apply in this case, and we’re looking for nothing less than justice,” Bishop Grant told the Chicago Crusader.

During the Saturday morning [November 6] Rainbow PUSH Coalition meeting, Rev. Jackson, who last Friday attended a Jelani Day march in Bloomington, Illinois, said he will never forget the case of the 23-year-old unarmed Guinean immigrant, Amadou Diallo, who on February 4, 1999, was shot 41 times by four New York police. Though the four officers were indicted, a jury of four Blacks and eight whites acquitted them.

That is why Bishop Grant is either attending these trials or monitoring them closely, so that the victims get the justice they deserve.

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