By: Zachary Draves
An African American student at Eastern Illinois University and a member of the swim team is fighting for justice in Quad Cities after being wrongly and unjustly arrested, threatened, and assaulted by police officers while a team trip.
His name is Jaylen Butler.
His story began on February 24, 2019, 20-year-old Jaylen Butler and the EIU swim team were on their way back from South Dakota where they were competing in a tournament.
Around 8:00 pm, the team bus while traveling through East Moline pulled over to the side of the road so that the team could stretch.
One of the coaches on the team had asked Jaylen to a picture of a roadside sign to be posted on the team’s social media account.
As he began walking up to the sign to take the photo, a swarm of law enforcement raced up, got out of their vehicles, drew their guns, and began to yell and curse at Jaylen.
He dropped to his knees and the police pushed his face into the ground covered with snow.
Guns were at his head as the police handcuffed him and one officer threatened to “blow his (expletive) head off”.
Jaylen was eventually released, but the trauma still lingers.
He had bruises on his wrists.
He talked openly about his fears when he got back to campus which included the sight of law enforcement triggering him.
The ACLU of Illinois is now taking up his cause and he seeks to fight all the way through until justice is served.
Jaylen’s case is indicative of police brutality and racial profiling that is inflicted among African Americans in this country and has been for years.
This is why Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid took a knee during the national anthem.
This is why LeBron James and other NBA players wore I Can’t Breathe t-shirts in solidarity with Eric Garner in 2014.
This is why the St. Louis Rams players gave the Hands Up Don’t Shoot gesture in support of Michael Brown in 2014.
This is why Andrew Hawkins of the Cleveland Browns wore a t-shirt in support of Tamir Rice and John Crawford in 2014.
This is why Malcolm Jenkins raised a fist during the anthem in 2017.
This is why Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Swim Cash, Tamika Catchings, and other WNBA players wore Black Lives Matter t-shirts in 2016 after the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
This is why the Sacramento Kings teamed up with Black Lives Matter in 2018 to secure justice for Stephon Clark.
This is why Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings paid for the funeral services for Attiana Jefferson this past year.
The criminalization of black men and women needs to stop.
The systemic racism that plagues the criminal justice system must be tackled.
The continuous power of athletes to put a spotlight on this issue speaks volumes.
The quest for justice is ongoing.
Justice for Jaylen Butler.