The mother of a man whose death is being investigated as a suicide says that her son didn’t kill himself—he was lynched. The mother, St.Louis-based activist Melissa McKinnies, says she believes that her son, 24-year-old Danye Jones, was targeted as a result of her activism, including organizing protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
On Oct. 17, McKinnies found Jones’ body in their backyard, hanging from a tree by a sheet. McKinnies says her son had bruises on his face, and both she and police say there was a chair near his body, according to St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV. Police are currently investigating Jones’ death as a suicide.
However, according to Jones’ family, the sheets used to hang Jones didn’t come from their house. Additionally, they don’t believe Jones would have been able to make the knots in the sheet, which they consider advanced.
On Facebook, McKinnies shared this suspicion that Jones didn’t commit suicide, but was killed by lynching. The post, which has since been removed, depicts two images of Jones’ body, with the caption, “This is what I woke up to! They lynched my baby.”
“My first time seeing these photos. If you have a weak stomach don’t look but this mother wants justice after I get up,” McKinnies had written, according to screenshots of the post shared on social media. “I’m sick and losing my mind but I had to let the world see what they did to my baby.”
McKinnies told the station that her son wasn’t suicidal “at all” and was in “good spirits.”
“A mother knows her child… What it appears to be to us is that somebody took my son,” McKinnies told KMOV. “Saying that he committed suicide, no you’re going to respect him.”
She went on to say that she believes that her family, and Jones specifically, is being targeted for her activism, recalling two months of death threats and stalking vehicles. McKinnies participated in the protests in Ferguson, after the death of Michael Brown, a Black, unarmed 18-year-old who was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. Wilson wasn’t indicted for Brown’s death.
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Early Tuesday morning, McKinnies shared another Facebook post about her son. “Sick with grief but ready to get up and fight for my baby,” she wrote.
A GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $10,000 has been created for Jones, to fund his funeral, a private autopsy, and other financial support. It has raised more than $400 so far.
According to CBS, McKinnies and Jones’ other family have scheduled a news conference for Thursday.
H/T the Root