Say their names: Jahneil Douglas, Jamal Williams

It’s sad and infuriating all at the same time. Another locker room is in tears because one of their teammates died by gunfire.

Jahneil Douglas is from Toledo (Start HS) and went to Toledo. He was a junior, defensive lineman looking to add to his 12-game career this season. The story of what all happened Tuesday night outside of Gino’s Pizza is still developing, but here’s what we know so far:

  • Police say a fight broke out between two men outside of the restaurant, and Douglas was shot around 11:30 p.m.
  • Douglas died at the hospital that night.
  • Bullet casings were found in the parking lot, and one car was also hit.
  • Douglas’ killer was on the loose for almost a full day, but Toledo Police have arrested a 24-year old man and has been charged.

Last month, it was Western Michigan’s locker room that received the awful news. Jamal Williams just finished his final year at WMU in 2019, and was shot and killed at the Munster, Ind. hospital he checked himself in to.

At an organized demonstration outside of the hospital a week after Williams’ death, his sister gave a speech to the crowd of protestors and talked about why her brother checked himself in as a psychiatric patient in the first place:

Williams’ sister, Imani Williams, delivered a tearful speech.

“My brother came to Munster Community Hospital willing and ready to receive help but instead was met with an overzealous security guard who chose to shoot him in the head,” Imani Williams said. “There were no warning shots. There were no medical professionals there to sedate him. My brother’s life was taken without a second thought.”

Imani Williams said her brother was deeply troubled by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and began to struggle, but hadn’t been angry or aggressive.

“Last month several black men and women were wrongfully killed at the hands of police officers and bigots,” she said. “Jamal was so hurt by what he had seen. It hurt and confused him even more when some of the people he called friends didn’t sympathize with him or even care about what happened to George Floyd. My brother was no fool. He knew as every Black man, women and child knows that George Floyd could have been any one of us. With these new and scary thoughts and flood of emotions, Jamal started to break down and we could see it.”

I’m tired of this. Every time a young athlete dies unnecessarily, I fill up on sadness. I’m tired of seeing young black men (regardless of their athletic feats) die at the hands of someone with a gun. I remember what Demarius Reed’s death in 2013 meant to the community in and around Eastern Michigan, and I know that his memory still means everything to everyone he made smile along the way. I can only imagine that Douglas’ death matters just as much to Toledo, and Williams’ to WMU.

Demarius Reed’s life matters.

Jahneil Douglas’ life matters.

Jamal Williams’ life matters.

And it’s up to every single one of us to prevent these stories from ever happening again.

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