The Justice for Julius Jones movement is near and dear to Oklahoma H-back Jeremiah Hall.
The redshirt senior from Charlotte, North Carolina, learned of the movement during the offseason after meeting with its supporters alongside OU’s other team captains. Soon after, the team’s leadership spoke with the rest of the Sooners to share what they learned.
Most of the team instantly backed the movement, including redshirt junior running back Kennedy Brooks, who joined Hall in donning shirts in support of Jones before OU’s 52-31 win over TCU last Saturday. Afterward, Hall even welcomed two of Jones’ childhood friends, Irv Roland and Jimmy Lawson, onto his weekly football podcast — titled “The Podcast on the Prairie” — Tuesday, and both players discussed the movement further in a Wednesday press conference.
“We did our own research and realized that was something we should support,” Hall said. “Me and Kennedy just so happened to be the ones wearing a shirt that day, but the more I learned about the case, the more I felt like I had a platform that could bring attention to it.”
Jones is an Oklahoma inmate who's been on death row since 2002 after he was convicted of killing Paul Howell, an Edmond businessman. From Oklahoma City, Jones was an OU student and planned to walk on to the Sooners' men's basketball team in 1999 before he became a suspect in Howell's death. His execution date is Nov. 18.
Brooks told reporters the main reason he supports the movement is to help Jones “get back his freedom.” Justice for Julius supporters have maintained Jones' innocence since his arrest. Notable advocates include Kim Kardashian, ex-Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and former OU standouts Baker Mayfield, Blake Griffin and Trae Young.
A silent march for the Jones took place Oct. 16 and ended with chants of “no justice, no peace” and “exonerate Julius Jones." Oklahoma's Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend commuting Jones' sentence from the death penalty to life in prison with the possibility of parole in September, but Gov. Kevin Stitt later rejected the board's decision. Jones’ clemency hearing is set for Oct. 26.
At the march, former Tulsa mayoral candidate Greg Robinson told those in attendance that Jones’ case symbolizes systemic injustice across the United States. Other speakers stated they started to view the situation as something that could’ve happened to anyone, a sentiment which Hall echoed Wednesday.
“I started to think 'What if that was my brother?' or '(What) if that was one of my family members?'” Hall said. “I just knew that I had to get behind it and bring awareness to it. And I encourage other people to do the same.”