In 2014, thousands of people took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri, after the death of a black and unarmed teenager, Michael Brown and to ultimately protest brutality.
Since then, there have been a series of harassment and deaths of Ferguson protestors and activists, including three prominent members of the movement. Hence, when Dwayne Jones, the son of activist Melissa McKinnies, was found dead in the backyard of his mother’s home at St. Louis County about two weeks ago, the catastrophic discovery reignited talks about how Ferguson protestors are being targeted due to their work on activism.
When Jones’s death broke on October 17, his mother and many others claimed that he had been lynched although police mentioned “suicide” as the nature of the investigation. According to the police, there were no signs of foul play but the deceased’s mother said that Jones had bruises on his face, American media CBS News reports.
Over the past few days, news of Jones’s death has spread on social media, causing outrage among many. This was after his mother, McKinnies, had shared graphic photos that showed Jones hanging from a bedsheet.
“They lynched my baby,” McKinnies wrote in a Facebook post that has since been removed.
“I’m sick and losing my mind, but I had to let the world know what they did to my baby!”
In an interview with St. Louis Post-Dispatch, McKinnies said that she believes her son was killed due to his activism since he was never suicidal.
According to her, she found her son hung from a tree with a bedsheet that did not come from their house and that he did not even know how to tie the kinds of knots that were used.
In a related interview with CBS St. Louis affiliate KMOV-TV, the mother added that Jones was “in good spirits” and was even about to start a real estate business.
“Saying that he committed suicide, no, you’re going to respect him,” McKinnies said.
“What it appears to be to us is that somebody took my son,” the mother of the 24-year-old, who claims they have been receiving death threats through social media in the last two months, said.
“They watched my house and when my husband and my son would approach the car, they would drive off,” said McKinnies, adding that they never reported the incident because they “felt like we had this.”
Meanwhile, the St. Louis County Police Sgt. Shawn McGuire has told the Post-Dispatch that Jones’s family first reported a suicide when they called the police. His officers found the deceased on the ground when they arrived without any indication of struggle or trauma, thus, the death is being considered a suicide, he said.
The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office has said that it does not issue preliminary findings, and it could take several weeks to have an official cause of death, according to the media.
McKinnies was among the thousands who crowded the streets in Ferguson, Missouri, after Brown’s death. The white officer who shot him, Darren Wilson was not charged and later resigned, sparking a series of protests for months that would later bring forth the Black Lives Matter movement.
Since then, many of the protestors have been threatened and harassed, sometimes via text and social media, with the following losing their lives.