Leon Jones is a Bloomington Excessive College graduate and a Bloomington native.
He spoke with Darnysha Mitchell for the WGLT collection Living Black in Bloomington-Normal. Contact us if you’d like to be featured in the series.
Do you’ve gotten a particular occasion or expertise that you simply want to speak about?
I used to be having drinks with associates at a neighborhood bar. And one of many bouncers approached my get together and requested one of many individuals of the get together to go away because of dishevelled denims. Like this all began because of dishevelled denims. And he was requested to go away the bar because of the denims, and since the particular person he requested to go away was with different individuals, you already know, he simply just about singled me out. Me and that different particular person. I used to be with that particular person. And he simply type of informed the cops that he had requested me to go away and every part, like he had already talked to me. Which I had by no means talked to this man. He by no means stated something to me.
When he got here to me, he got here again with cops. … I used to be slammed up towards the bar, had stitches in my chin. An actual traumatic occasion came about in my life. I fought for that, I fought for that. I used to be harmless. I did nothing. I used to be having drinks with a good friend’s birthday. I’m nonetheless tore up from that scenario mentally.
What was going by your thoughts while you noticed him strategy with the cops?
I perceive that the cops have been doing their jobs, and it stems from what this specific particular person informed them. I used to be in jail 5, possibly not even two minutes. I believe the one motive why I used to be launched as quick as I used to be as a result of I used to be bleeding. The correctional officers launched me, it wasn’t the cops. They stated, “Man, you’re bleeding, you have to go.”
What police was it that got here? Was it Regular or Bloomington police?
This was Bloomington Police.
However the truth that I went to courtroom and thru the courtroom programs harmless like, look, I used to be not resisting they usually charged me with trespassing. How do you cost me with trespassing in a bar? The place I confirmed my ID to get in?
There’s loads of issues about this example that has by no means sat effectively with me and it’ll by no means. And I recognize you guys for letting me use this platform to specific a few of this as a result of it is actually constructed up fury and rage and all of these types of issues.
There’s this expectation for the Black group to be robust. Black ladies and particularly for Black males to be robust regardless of no matter happens. What are individuals not understanding that you are feeling?
My opinion, Black individuals weren’t raised to hate white individuals, regardless of the entire issues that white individuals have performed to my grandmother, my grandparents my my nice grandparents. They inform us these tales. They didn’t train us to hate white individuals or to reciprocate that sort of conduct. They did not try this to us. I grew up in an all white principally white highschool round right here.
What highschool did you go to?
I graduated from Bloomington Excessive College in 2001. I got here right here about ‘89, ‘90. Coming from that sort of setting, west aspect of Chicago to right here, it was a change. It was an enormous change. It was a shock, going forwards and backwards to go to. I don’t assume that lots of people understand the impact that racism, white supremacy has on the Black group. It is deeper than simply denying jobs and issues of that nature. It is actually to me has gotten to my psychological (state).
And have you ever been capable of obtain any assist?
I do not know who to succeed in out to. I don’t know who to name. I don’t know who to rant to about these issues. It is all the time “file a police report” and do that and try this. I’ve seen them tear up police experiences and throw within the rubbish. Like, who can we speak to when we have now these issues and points? We want someone there for us.
You talked about you’re doing analysis. What are you discovering in your analysis that you simply’ve been doing?
A variety of issues have been taken from Black individuals that are not in our historical past books. I am going to use Black Wall Road for instance. I am 37 years outdated. I did not discover out about Black Wall Road until three, 4 years in the past. These kinds of issues, that stuff was buried. Why would they try this?
And that leads as much as a lot of these conditions and these issues that we’re having as we speak in our society, tradition, world, or what have you ever. And I believe me personally, I am residing and I am seeing issues like this happening day by day. Once you activate the information, and it is all you are seeing is nothing however Black individuals upset. Individuals are on the lookout for methods to vent and also you calling me allowed me this platform. So I’m venting at this level. And I recognize that.
And have you ever had the possibility to have these conversations with individuals near you?
On a regular basis. On a regular basis. They know the way passionate I’m about a lot of these conditions. As a result of once more, I’ve lived by sure issues that comply with me day by day. I do not go wherever with out figuring out these may occur at any given time.
Once you’re on the market protesting, figuring out that you have been a sufferer of being wrongfully arrested, what is going on by your thoughts?
Throughout the previous yr, I have been pulled over 10 occasions. Seven of these 10 occasions, I used to be ticketed, needed to go to courtroom and it simply made up issues to get in my automobile or see who’s in my automobile, be sure I am legitimate. It is simply, it is extra like nitpicking so far as I am involved. It is simply consistently selecting. My license is sweet. My insurance coverage is sweet. My automobile is ok, it’s not making any noises, all my lights and every part are working. They make up that too. “The license plate does not work.” That is an actual good one which they like to make use of to simply pull individuals over and make a small scenario larger than what it’s. Notably to African Individuals, individuals of shade. It is a recognized tactic, like “Oh, you did not cease all the best way on the cease signal.” Now you need to search my automobile. OK, I obtained passengers in my automobile. They’re of shade. Now you need their IDs.
However we have now lots of people that do not even know the true legal guidelines and know that they should not even be speaking to those individuals within the automobile. However in the event you give them some smoke about them questioning your passengers, now it is an issue with them. And it simply it only a entire dangerous scenario. It’s not often ever good for an individual of shade.
Now with social media, persons are utilizing their telephones to file these interactions with the police and posting them. If these interactions weren’t being recorded, do you are feeling just like the Black group can be listened to and even believed?
To not the extent that we’re. To not the extent as a result of these items are occurring day by day. And so they have been. It’s simply extra of the truth that in fact we have now extra cameras round, cell telephones. And stuff is being seen extra and is getting extra of a response.
When the Black group shares tales on how police work together with them, there may be pushback, like “What did you do?” Or “Effectively, you should not have performed this. You must have performed that.” What do you say to these reactions?
So these are simply individuals denying the true issues that is happening so far as I am involved. If I am saying one thing and someone is pushing again about what I did or about what I am saying, you’re in denial and that’s simply how I really feel. You’re not down for the trigger. George Floyd for instance. [They’re saying] “Oh, this man is a prison” and all that stuff. That had nothing to do with nothing. So why is that that related?
What do you hope to see change?
I want to see extra assets accessible to individuals of shade relating to psychological well being as a result of I am seeing lots of people together with myself needing assist.
So far as change, I simply need to be left alone. I am not hurting no person, I am not doing something to anyone. However I am being handled like a hardened prison. And it has been that manner for us. And it is I am bored with it. Simply allow us to dwell.
There’s typically a stigma round psychological well being within the Black group. Do you assume it’s one thing the Black group ought to tackle extra?
Completely. Completely. Psychological well being within the Black group is all the time one thing that’s not often talked about. It isn’t talked about. And issues that cope with white supremacy that instantly pertains to the attitudes and the mentality of individuals of shade. And lots of people aren’t conscious of it, and I am right here to assist shed some mild to that. Once you’re driving in your automobile and the cops get behind you, you’re not doing something unsuitable, you’re not bothering anyone, the police get behind you and your coronary heart drops to the ground. You’re about to run the automobile into the hearth hydrant on the nook, you run a cease signal as a result of your foot sleepwalk or one thing is occurring with you mentally and bodily. Coronary heart pounding out of your chest. There’s one thing unsuitable. There’s one thing unsuitable.
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