National civil rights attorney Ben Crump calls for a FBI investigation into the death of 25-year-old graduate student Jelani Day

Missing ISU student Jelani Day
Missing ISU student Jelani Day, whose body was discovered earlier this month. Bloomington Police Department
  • Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is calling on the FBI to investigate Jelani Day’s case as a hate crime.
  • Day, a 25-year-old Black graduate student, was reported missing in August and found dead in the Illinois River days later.
  • Crump’s remarks were made at a press conference in Chicago on Friday with Day’s family members. 

National civil rights attorney Ben Crump is calling on the FBI to investigate the death of Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day as a hate crime.

During a press conference in Chicago, Illinois on Friday, December 3, alongside Carmen Day, Jelani’s mother, Crump said they are “demanding that the United States Attorney General instructs the FBI to investigate this matter as a hate crime investigation because none of it adds up.”

Day, a Black man, was reported missing by his family in late August. Authorities said that the 25-year-old’s body was discovered in the Illinois River days later, on September 4. A local coroner determined that Day died from drowning, although officials said “the manner in which Mr. Day went into the Illinois River” remains unknown.

Family members have consistently called for more answers and have raised questions in Day’s case. In an interview with Insider’s Ashley Collman in October,  Day’s brother, Seve, said that he was not convinced that the body he viewed was Jelani. Carmen Day has previously said she believes her son was murdered, and during the press conference, emphasized that the family is “losing confidence” in local authorities. 

Ben C
Ben Crump. Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Crump also said Day’s case did not receive the same attention or resources as 22-year-old Gabby Petito. Experts told Insider missing people of color are not “centered’ in national media coverage

“If that was your child, would you accept what the local police are trying to tell this mother?” Crump said. ” We can’t say just because he’s a young Black man that we’re going to let them sweep his death under the rug and we’re not going to give it the dedication and attention that we give to young white people like Gabby Petito who got all the attention in the world.”

Crump added: “They were committed to getting the answers for that family. Why is it that when someone is Black and they go missing it is not taken seriously? And they try to write it off as if they took their own life. We will not accept it.”