by Fatou Drammeh
After a cop fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, African American activism has grown rapidly. For the past four years, people all across the country have protested and joined the Black Lives Matter movement, some gaining major attention from the public.
Hashtags, signs and T-shirts covered the United States as the Black Lives Matter movement became a very public one. The same methods of visibility were effectively used during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Two prominent Ferguson activists, DeAndre Joshua and Darren Seals, were both found dead in 2014 (Joshua) and 2016 (Seals). Now, another name of someone associated with Ferguson has been added to the list.
On Oct. 17, 24-year-old Danye Jones was found hanging from a tree in the backyard of his home. Jones was the son of Melissa McKinnies, an influential activist that was heavily involved with the Black Lives Matter movement after the shooting of Brown in 2014. McKinnies said in a now-deleted Facebook post that her son was lynched. Police say it was suicide.
“October 17th 2018 I woke up to find my son hung from a tree! Please help my family and myself get answers and justice for Danye’ Dion Jones. Don’t allow them to sweep this under a rug and trash his name by quickly coming to the conclusion that it was suicide. We the family know better and the investigation is also a concern.” McKinnies posted on her Facebook account.
Despite the claims by Jones’ mother and family, authorities are investigating his death as a suicide.
“I feel like police rule everything that they don’t feel like investigating as a suicide. Why would anyone want to go to their mothers backyard to kill themselves? It doesn’t add up.” Said Howard University freshman, Ashley Clarke.
McKinnies’ graphic Facebook post of her son’s body just as she found him went viral on the Internet, sparking conversations across social media platforms and the hashtag #JusticeforDanyeJones. These conversations brought light to not just the death of Danye Jones, but to the greater issue of the treatment of black people in the United States.
The lack of mainstream media coverage of Jones’ death upon and his death being investigated as a suicide, has the Jones family, friends and supporters of their activism searching for answers.
“To be honest, I’m not that surprised… people want to act surprised but it’s not that far fetched,” said Howard University freshman, Malachai Moody. “The old systems are still in place, they’re just slicker now.”
In an interview with Teen Vogue, McKinnies said “I want people to know that Danye’s life mattered more than they could ever think or believe.”