Protests have continued for seven nights outside the Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel and Conference Center in Rosemont, Illinois. They began after Kenneka Jenkins was found dead in the walk-in freezer.
On Sept. 8, 2017, Jenkins attended a party, in room 926, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. She left her home at 11:30 p.m. CT, and that was the last time Teresa Martin saw her 19-year-old daughter alive.
Her body was found two days later inside a double walk-in freezer located in a restricted area of the hotel basement. Jenkins was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m., on Sept. 10, and he body was removed at 4:53 a.m.
Her daughter’s friends had called her more than 24 hours earlier to tell her they could not find Jenkins.
Martin reported to 911 that her daughter was in the hotel lobby with a friend, who went back to the room to retrieve her cell phone. When the friend returned, Jenkins was gone. Martin said her daughter did not normally go anywhere alone and could only handle small amounts of alcohol. The mother wanted to see the surveillance cameras to look for her.
Dispatch reminded Martin that her daughter was over 18 and had not been missing for long. He explained it would take some time for police officers to view the video and Jenkins could be passed out inside the hotel room. The operator suggested Martin return home and get some rest.
Police officers notified the Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel, at 1:15 p.m. that a missing persons report had been filed for Jenkins. According to Rosemont spokesman Gary Mack, hotel employees were unable to locate the young woman.
Jenkin’s family members arrived at the hotel around 6 p.m. and began knocking on the doors of hotel rooms looking for the 19-year-old girl. The police arrived immediately, reviewed the surveillance footage, and told Martin her daughter was seen staggering in the hallways at 3:20 a.m. Police officers conducted a search and she was found in the hotel’s double walk-in freezer, which was located in a restricted area.
Martin, friends, family, social activists, and citizens of the area have been protesting outside the Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel and Conference Center for seven nights. The crowd is demanding the hotel release the surveillance tapes from all 47 cameras to the family, and there can be justice for Jenkins. After seven days of protests, Martin does not have the surveillance footage from the hotel.
The family has been asked to stop the protests because the hotel is losing money. Demonstrators carry signs and shout chants, such as “The Crowne Plaza Hotel has bodies in the freezer and blood on their hands,” and “No justice, no sleep,” outside room windows. Martin said she will stop, once she has the unedited surveillance tapes.
Many of the demonstrations have recorded live on social media and the family has received support and encouragement from all over the country. For the demonstration on Sept. 18, 75 people have agreed to meet in the parking lot at Roosevelt and State Jewels to bus to the Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel and Convention Center. There are more who plan to carpool to the hotel. The protest starts outside at 5:30 p.m.
By Jeanette Smith
Image by Aneekr Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons License