As protests and riots continue in cities across the United States following the death of George Floyd, a Langford man is mourning the loss of his brother and cousin in Chicago.
Dionte Jelks told CHEK on Sunday that he was walking with his family in downtown Victoria when his mother called him from Chicago to inform him that his brother, Darius, and cousin, Maurice, had been shot to death on the south side of Chicago.
“Protesting and looting was happening in that area, but there’s no police … or troopers there, it was just a free-for-all and it’s just my brother and cousin got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Jelks said.
Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis on May 25, after an officer pressed their knee into his neck for several minutes, and continued doing so even after he had stopped moving. That officer, Derek Chauvin, faces charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Demonstrations, riots and looting have taken place throughout the United States since the incident, including in Chicago, where Jelks grew up.
Jelks now lives in Langford and commutes to his job as principal at Ladysmith Intermediate School. He said one of the reasons for moving to the Island was so that his children could escape the violence in the United States.
“I just wanted to move my boys to Vancouver Island just to get away from that so they could be known as a person, so they can grow up and have fun and not look behind their backs to see if they’re going to be killed or robbed,” Jelks said.
With anger building over racial injustice, Jelks also spoke about his life dealing with what he calls the clutches and tentacles of systemic racism. He said effective leadership is needed, starting at the White House and all the way down to the local government level.
“As a kid growing up, you know, I wanted to play football, but there was no football team. I wanted to have a library, but there was no library, there was nothing. You’re left to fend for yourself and you know, this is just a culmination of years of brutality, years of inequality,” Jelks said.
Jelks says he can’t go to the United States to be with his family due to the COVID-19 restrictions. A GoFundMe has been set up to help his family with funeral arrangements for his brother and cousin.