Kenneka Jenkins’ tragic death is a true mystery.
Because there is no video of the 19-year-old actually walking into the freezer at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, there is no closure.
Not for the young woman’s mother, Tereasa Martin.
Not for family and friends.
And not for the activists who have held protests outside the hotel.
But these young activists have shown that they can organize the numbers needed to bring attention to their cause in a matter of hours.
In this instance, their advocacy made a difference to a family grieving an unspeakable loss.
That same advocacy is desperately needed in Chicago, where hundreds of murders go unsolved every year.
“What protesters are doing is a good thing. That is fine, but when somebody is shot in Chicago, come into the community and protest that,” said Pamela Bosley, co-founder of Purpose Over Pain, a support group for parents who lost their children to gun violence.
Bosley’s son, Terrell Bosley, was killed in 2006 outside of a South Side Church. That murder still has not been solved.
“We got people getting killed every day. We want young people to use that same energy to talk about the crime in Chicago, because if they did what they are doing in Rosemont, that would help bring justice for a lot more moms,” Bosley said.
While Rosemont police insist that Jenkins’ death was a tragic accident, the protesters aren’t buying it and are calling on the FBI to investigate.
That standoff is a reflection of the distrust between law enforcement and young people of color. It also shows that distrust extends beyond police misconduct and abuse.
There is a longstanding perception in the black community that crimes against black people aren’t investigated as aggressively as they are when victims are white.
The number of unsolved murders in the city only bolsters that perception. Only about 30 percent of homicides are solved.
“We just had a support circle last night, and out of 30 people, only 2 people are in court and the rest of the murders are still unsolved,” noted Bosley. “Several of the mothers are going out by themselves, passing out flyers, trying to get their cases solved.”
Martin had little reason to believe police would do a thorough investigation into her daughter’s death.
After all, the hotel room where the party took place was booked with a fraudulent credit card, according to the police, and the 19-year-old was seen on video, obviously impaired, wandering the hotel’s hallways.
Given the disgusting behavior we have seen on the part of some Chicago police officers, it is not hard to believe that an investigation was less than thorough.
“Until the mom has peace and Kenneka has true justice, we’re going to keep on the fight,” Chicago activist Jedidiah Brown told the Chicago Sun-Times.
However this plays out, the burden of her daughter’s death will forever weigh heavily on this mother’s shoulders.
But the activist community’s role in this case shows how important these voices are in the effort to save our communities.
“If we had more young people out there supporting us, maybe we could shut our streets down and bring justice for a lot of families,” Bosley said.
“We want that same energy in our community. We all need to unite to bring justice for all of our children,” she said.