Mother of Kenneka Jenkins calls for protests to end outside hotel
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The mother of Kenneka Jenkins, whose body was found in a freezer in a Rosemont hotel, says the frequent protests outside the hotel are over, indicating she felt taken advantage of by organizers.
In a video posted to her Facebook page Sunday night, Tereasa Martin said, “You know what, this protest is over.”
Martin thanked all the people who came out to support justice for her 19-year-old daughter, but she blasted unnamed organizers for taking financial advantage of the situation.
Martin said she became aware only recently that some organizers were collecting money from people as part of the protests.
“So I’m ending y’all’s agendas that’s not righteous toward my child,” Martin said in the video.
Protest organizers, for their part, insist they were not profiting off Jenkins’ death and said Martin’s video came as “a complete shocker to us.”
Jedidiah Brown, a Chicago activist who spearheaded the protests, said the money in question was part of a “freedom fund.” Donations to that fund was put toward food, transportation and legal fees for protesters who were arrested. That fund, Brown said, was separate from donations to Martin and was created with her blessing.
Brown contends that some members of his own family have misled Martin into thinking the protesters were pocketing the money. Just over $6,000 was raised with about $2,000 remaining Monday night. The rest of money, he said, will continue to go toward legal fees and transportation for protesters who came from out of town.
Asked if he thought Martin was targeting him in her video, Brown said: “Who else could she have been talking about?”
Though Brown had not spoken to Martin since she posted the video, he told the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday evening that he will respect her wishes and not plan any further protests. However, about three hours after saying that, Brown tweeted that he would be returning to the hotel Tuesday evening.
Martin’s sentiments, he said, have left him and others who supported the family feeling “betrayed.”
“They have completely rejected our communication,” Brown said. “There’s a very deep-seated level of hurt that I feel that I know is going to make it harder for me to serve Chicago’s families.”
At the same time, though, “We’re not mad at Momma Tereasa for this,” Brown said.
Over the weekend, Martin also released details of Jenkins’ funeral, which will be this Saturday, with the wake beginning at 11 a.m. at the House of Hope, 752 E. 114th St., in Chicago, with the funeral to follow at noon.
On Monday night, Brown said he didn’t know if he would go to the funeral.
“At this particular moment, I am unsure if I’m even invited,” he said. “After weeks of fighting for her, I don’t know if I’m invited to pay my respects to the young lady that became my world, that became my life.”
Jenkins’ death has drawn international attention since her body was found in a freezer at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the northwest suburb on Sept. 10.
Jenkins left her home near the United Center at 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 8 to attend a party at the Crowne Plaza, police said. Jenkins’ sister last heard from her by a text message about 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
She was last seen by her friends at a party on the ninth floor of the hotel in the early hours of Sept. 9. Jenkins was reported missing that afternoon, and authorities found her in the freezer shortly after midnight.
Activists have called for the FBI to investigate the Rosemont Police Department’s handling of the case, and Twitter and Facebook have been deluged with theories about a cover-up in Jenkins’ death, and many believe she was murdered.
Rosemont police have released nine video clips showing Jenkins walking through the hotel in the hours before her death. She can be seen walking unsteadily through the hotel’s kitchen before disappearing around a corner, but none of the released footage shows her entering the freezer.
Her cause of death remains unknown pending further study and her toxicological results have not yet been released.