Prince Jones is Coates’s classmate at Howard University. Jones is well-known throughout the university for being warm, kind and a born-again Christian. Jones is the son of Dr. Mabel Jones. Due in part to his mother’s influence, his affluence, and his history of private schooling, Jones is academically successful. Although Coates does not have a particularly deep relationship with Jones, his presence in the community becomes a source of comfort and sentimentality for Coates.

At the age of 25, Prince Jones is murdered by a Prince George Country police officer. The officer was not in uniform and shot Jones in the back five times. Although many murders of Black people by police, like the stories of Treyvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown, are discussed in the text, Prince Jones’s proximity to Coates causes his murder to become the primary lens through which Coates explores police brutality. The officer who murdered Prince Jones faced no charges despite having a history of police brutality.

Prince Jones’s death and the subsequent memorial result in feelings of isolation within Coates. The way that many members of the community react to Prince Jones’s death feels foreign and unproductive to him. For example, many of the Christian memorial attendees ask for forgiveness for the officer who murdered Prince Jones. Coates feels the atrocities committed by the police system are a product of atrocities committed by the country at large and that no one should be forgiven for the crime.