PERU – The family of Jelani Day and their supporters — including the Rev. Jesse Jackson — gathered in Peru, Ill., on Tuesday in hopes of pressuring law enforcement investigating Day’s death.
Jackson and his Rainbow PUSH Coalition were the lead organizers of Tuesday’s march. Day, an Illinois State University graduate student, was found dead in the Illinois River in Peru on Sept. 4.
Authorities say he drowned and there were no signs of trauma on his body before he died. Authorities say they don’t know why Day ended up in the river. His family and their supporters have rejected theories about suicide or self-harm and believe he was murdered. They’re hoping State Police or the FBI will take over the investigation.
Jackson visited ISU on Monday night to rally support for the Peru march. Several student and employee groups from ISU were expected to participate in the march.
Just before 9 a.m. Tuesday, the Peru Police announced a change in the route of the march.
“Unfortunately, the route which was posted (Monday) cannot accommodate that request and has changed to assist the family with closure. The representative (from Rainbow PUSH) stated that due to the length of the route everyone involved will be in vehicles and caravan throughout the LaSalle-Peru area,” Peru Police Chief Robert Pyszka said in a statement.
The event was scheduled to begin at noon at the Peru Police Department, 2650 N. Peoria St. Participants are asked to park at Veterans Park, just west of the police department.
Ploch defends the autopsy report and stresses it does not indicate how Jelani Day got in the water. He says it is up to law enforcement to investigate. https://t.co/b2ugW97Hal
— Eric Stock (@EricWGLT) October 26, 2021
Rainbow PUSH announced late Monday that it was no longer sending a bus from Chicago to the march, citing “unforeseen circumstances, inclement weather and an impromptu schedule change concerning Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. and staff attending the General Assembly meeting of the Illinois State University’s Black Student Union” on Monday night.
Jackson himself was in Peru on Tuesday morning ahead of the march.
Peru is a town of around 9,800 people in LaSalle County, about an hour north of Bloomington-Normal.
This story will be updated.