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Old 09-19-2007, 01:37 PM   #16
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there is a bit of discussion going on in the WV torture thread. but i think this issue deserves its own. i too am surprised the DA wasn't charged with anything. i'm rather suspicious that he threatens the lives of the group of black students, and then the 6 boys get charged.

i can't believe that kid has been in jail for 10 months now. it is a damn shame.
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Old 09-19-2007, 04:54 PM   #17
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While I have nothing kind to say about the DA in this case, I don't see where there would be grounds for charging him with a crime--he was summoned to address an all-school assembly following several days of interracial fights subsequent to the noose incident, during which the police had been called to the school several times. Whether or not he looked directly at the black students while delivering his "stroke of a pen" remarks and as such could be said to have implicitly aimed his remarks at them is not provable (some students felt that was the case, some didn't) and it is not true, as some earlier news stories and blogs reported, that he came to address black students only following a sit-in beneath the "white tree" (the school has no record of such an event, and school officials have stated they recall nothing of the sort; there were enough student "eyewitnesses" to conclude it likely did happen, but probably it was something small and non-official in nature). I do find it odd that the school chose to summon a DA rather than, say, the mayor to address the assembly, and his idea of how to soothe tensions was idiotic regardless of who his remarks were or weren't implicitly addressed to, but I can't imagine what the grounds for criminal charges would be. The actual "Jena 6 incident" was three months and numerous other in-school scuffles later.

Also, while I'm sympathetic emotionally to the argument that "Prior to this attack...school fights resulted in a 3-day suspension and NOT attempted murder charges," legally that's probably irrelevant--it's not the school pursuing these charges; it's the prosecution and their clients, the white student and his parents, and while the charges in question are outrageously harsh, they're certainly within their rights to pursue charges as far as it goes. That the case should have been tried elsewhere is a reasonable argument, and yes, Mychal Bell's first public defender (who was black) was a joke--reportedly he was angry at Bell for not having accepted a plea bargain once the charges were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery, and so "punished" him by sitting there like a log in court. (Bell, whose conviction was overturned last week on grounds that he was improperly tried as an adult, now has a new defense team; however, the possibility that he could be retried for the same charges as a juvenile remains, as do the aggravated second-degree battery charges against the other five.)
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Old 09-20-2007, 02:03 AM   #18
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I'm sure there will be lots of news stories about the march by the end of the day tomorrow, but anyhow here's a preview.
Quote:
Tiny Jena braces for a day of protest

By CINDY GEORGE
Houston Chronicle, Sept. 20


JENA, La. — For all intents and purposes, this small Louisiana town is closed today. So too are its schools, businesses, and courthouse clerk's office. A downtown car dealership has moved its inventory elsewhere. To many of the 3000 who live here, there's no use in trying to conduct normal affairs on an all-but-normal day.

Upward of 20,000 people are expected in the town today, and they're not coming to sample its rural, central Louisiana charms. In an event reminiscent of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, people across the nation are boarding buses and traveling through the night to protest what they see as an egregious example of racial injustice. Six black teens — known nationally now as the Jena 6 — are facing serious criminal charges in the schoolyard beating last December of a white classmate, following an incident that occurred in the shade of a large tree at Jena High School, a spot traditionally reserved for whites.

A black student decided to sit under the tree, and days later, three nooses were found hanging from its ample branches. Angered not only that school officials deemed the nooses a prank, protesters say officials also initially charged the black students with attempted murder for an offense that historically earned only a three-day suspension.

The case gained national attention through black radio, newspapers, e-mail and Internet sites, and intensified this summer after Mychal Bell, 17, a star football player at Jena High, was convicted by an all-white jury. The Louisiana Supreme Court overturned that verdict last week. The march was to coincide with Bell's sentencing.
.................................................................
A taste of the national spotlight hit Wednesday morning, as television cameras and reporters descended on the LaSalle Parish courthouse in downtown Jena. Sharpton arrived around noon to meet with Bell, then held a news conference. Barker appeared in the afternoon before reporters with LaSalle Parish District Attorney J. Reed Walters, who is white.

For Jena residents, it is surreal to watch what's happening around the corner on national television. Darlea Johnson, 48, who is white, said she resents media reports that paint her hometown as a place prejudiced against blacks. "It's a good place. When they're calling Jena racist, they're calling me that — and that's not fair," Johnson said.

Reporters were in town all week to document a blip in the town's history that may turn Jena itself into a symbol of injustice, akin to Money, Miss., in the 1950s and Selma, Ala., in the '60s.

Residents are overwhelmed. Fast-food restaurants and other businesses that remained open in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina will be closed. But it might not matter much. One of the strategies of the protest was to avoid rewarding Jena in any way, which means not buying food, gas or lodging there.

"I think people are just worried about a lot of damage being done and that Jena is being given a black eye, and it really doesn't deserve it," said Guy Campbell, 59, a white Jena native and retired social worker. "Hopefully the bad whites will stay home and the bad blacks will stay home and the demonstration will be what it's supposed to be."

People interviewed, of both races, agreed that school fights causing a range of injuries are not usually punished as serious crimes. And no one has condoned Barker's beating. Blacks interviewed said the charges were brought because the victim was white and the alleged assailants were black. Whites would not make such pronouncements.

"The charges were overdone for a simple schoolyard fight," said Louis McCoy, an oil field roustabout and cousin to accused attacker Theodore Shaw. But McCoy, who is black, said some question whether the Jena 6 should be held up as emblems of persecution, given that at least Bell, Bailey, Shaw and Jones have previous juvenile criminal histories. Last April, Bell was placed on probation in juvenile court for an unrelated simple battery charge. "A lot of the black people in Jena did not get behind them because of the things they have done before this happened," McCoy, 47, said of the six.

The nooses, symbols of racial intimidation, were dismissed as indiscretions and not pursued as hate crimes. Court records show that skirmishes between whites and blacks prior to the December 2006 fight were resolved by school suspensions or simple battery charges. "This is about unequal justice. This is about the white students that got away with crimes and weren't prosecuted," said Bell's father, Marcus Jones, 35. "In the court system, blacks are being treated worse than white people doing the same crime."

Calls to Walters, the prosecutor, and to Barker's home were not returned.

At his July trial, Bell faced an all-white jury because blacks called to jury duty did not show up, Bell's new lawyers said in court filings. The legal team is seeking a new trial because "an insufficient effort was made to obtain the attendance of potential jurors who did not appear."

Jena, the parish seat, is a town of contrasts between black and white. It sits at the center of long, winding rural roads. Its downtown has a village feel, with the parish courthouse, Jena Town Hall, the police station, shops, banks and a cluster of gas stations and fast-food restaurants. Predominantly white areas around Jena High and near downtown run the gamut from brick-ranch homes with sprawling lawns to stuffy trailer parks on asphalt-paved streets. Mostly white North Jena is known as "Snob Hill." The black areas are a haphazard collection of modest houses and mobile homes just outside the city limits along gravel roads and dirt alleys. The 350 blacks in Jena have little political power.

Around town, black and white youth mingled together in yards and rode together in cars. Beau Jones, 16, a white football player who said he is Bell's friend, said there is no racism at Jena High. "I want the best for him," Jones said. "He's done way too much time already."

Aaron Dozier, a 21-year-old black college student, said most of his friends at Jena High were white. He said the racial tensions are real even if others won't admit it. "When you get punished, you need to get punished the right way, not try to ruin somebody's life because of their race," Dozier said.
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Old 09-20-2007, 09:31 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
While I have nothing kind to say about the DA in this case, I don't see where there would be grounds for charging him with a crime--he was summoned to address an all-school assembly following several days of interracial fights subsequent to the noose incident, during which the police had been called to the school several times. Whether or not he looked directly at the black students while delivering his "stroke of a pen" remarks and as such could be said to have implicitly aimed his remarks at them is not provable (some students felt that was the case, some didn't) and it is not true, as some earlier news stories and blogs reported, that he came to address black students only following a sit-in beneath the "white tree" (the school has no record of such an event, and school officials have stated they recall nothing of the sort; there were enough student "eyewitnesses" to conclude it likely did happen, but probably it was something small and non-official in nature). I do find it odd that the school chose to summon a DA rather than, say, the mayor to address the assembly, and his idea of how to soothe tensions was idiotic regardless of who his remarks were or weren't implicitly addressed to, but I can't imagine what the grounds for criminal charges would be. The actual "Jena 6 incident" was three months and numerous other in-school scuffles later.
you're right...perhaps he can't be charged with a crime. however i do find it suspicious that he threatens the lives of the black students, and then the Jena 6 are charged with attempted murder. and as far as i know, yesterday was the first time i've heard him speak publicly about the issue. i guess what i meant to say is that the DA himself should be held accountable for his threat. as a resident i'd be pretty upset of i found out the DA came in to a school and threatened the lives of kids.
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Old 09-20-2007, 09:36 AM   #20
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Originally posted by unico


you're right...perhaps he can't be charged with a crime. however i do find it suspicious that he threatens the lives of the black students, and then the Jena 6 are charged with attempted murder.
But that's an inference that you've made; a reasonable person could have probably concluded the opposite.

(Not that you're not reasonable, lol, I just mean that you could equally as reasonably come to the opposite conclusion.)
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Old 09-20-2007, 09:51 AM   #21
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David Bowie has donated $10,000 to a legal defense fund for six black teens charged in an alleged attack on a white classmate in the tiny central Louisiana town of Jena.

The British rocker's donation to the Jena Six Legal Defense Fund was announced by the NAACP as thousands of protesters were expected to march through Jena on Thursday in defense of Mychal Bell and five other teens. The group has become known as the Jena Six.

"There is clearly a separate and unequal judicial process going on in the town of Jena," Bowie said Tuesday in an e-mail statement. "A donation to the Jena Six Legal Defense Fund is my small gesture indicating my belief that a wrongful charge and sentence should be prevented."

Bell was found guilty on second-degree battery charges June 28 by a six-member, all-white jury. Before the case was overturned by the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, his sentencing had been set for Thursday.

The court said Bell, who was 16 at the time of the alleged December 2006 beating, shouldn't have been tried as an adult.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who helped organize the march, planned to do his syndicated radio show from Alexandria on Wednesday, then travel about 35 miles to Jena in an attempt to visit Bell, who remains in jail because he is unable to post $90,000 bond.

Sharpton says he expects more than 10,000 marchers.

"We are gratified that rock star David Bowie was moved to donate to the NAACP's Jena campaign," National Board of Directors Chairman Julian Bond of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said in a statement. "We hope others will join him."
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Old 09-20-2007, 10:16 AM   #22
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Here in central Florida there were a couple of busloads of people heading to Jena, they left yesterday.

I think you have to question whether you have a culture of racism at a school when black students feel they have to ASK PERMISSION to sit under the "white tree". Even though they were told they could indeed sit under it, the fact they felt it necessary to ask first speaks volumes.
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Old 09-20-2007, 11:37 AM   #23
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first....as a DA you should know to watch your mouth and not to say things that do sound like a threat or could be taken as a threat.

Now....you can laugh at me, but I'll admit it, I'm not totally up on my history and geography and where the North was seperated from the South in the Civil war, but I believe WV was part of the south.

My mother in law and her family are from the South and well....I've been born and raised in the North. I've never seen the difference in color of skin. I went to inner city schools, had friends of all different races. My parents never had a problem with who I was friends with or dated.

The first time I saw how different not only the South is from the North, still to this day, but also how completely stupid people can be, was when I was down South visiting my husband (when we were engaged) and his mother. In the middle of a resturant she and I were at, she unleashes and starts using N***** to describe people.

I was completely shocked and horrified, even more so to see that no one around us who had heard her use it several times---had even blinked an eye.

My point being....I don't think it's JUST the government or the justice system to blame but it's also or more so bad parenting. I can't imagine bringing my kids up in a home thinking it's okay to use that word....EVER.
The Civil war is well over and done with....get over it. You lost. Grow up and grow some respect.

If my kid was one of the ones that hung the nuces, hell you'd better believe I'd be wringing his or her neck and telling the justice system they needed a heavier sentence and they should have been expelled. I don't care if I'm the parent at that point, you need to learn from your choices. Same goes for the kids who teamed up on the other kid and beat him up. I agree that their sentence as "attempted murder" was probably taken to heavily, however I truely don't know the extent to the kids injuries or whats true and what's not.

Things like this happen.....and people have the audacity to ask whats wrong with American and what's wrong with our Youth?! that makes me laugh.....open your eyes people. Especially adults. these kids aren't just learning this on their own, they're watching you---all of us---parents, society, etc. They learn. They repeat.

You want it to stop, put them all on trial and try them equally.
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Old 09-20-2007, 11:55 AM   #24
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Now....you can laugh at me, but I'll admit it, I'm not totally up on my history and geography and where the North was seperated from the South in the Civil war, but I believe WV was part of the south.
WV seceded from VA in 1863, in the middle of the war, because they didn't want to be a part of the Confederacy. WV was not a slave state. WV exists today because it disagreed with VA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_West_Virginia
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Old 09-20-2007, 12:18 PM   #25
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Jena is in Louisiana, so I'm not sure why the WV reference.

It is a different culture there. But...at the same time, I think it should also be noted that Bryant didn't even know what the nooses meant...like the historical significance of them, until his mother told him after he told her they were in the tree.
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Old 09-20-2007, 03:43 PM   #26
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Quote:
Jena Is America

by Gary Younge
The Nation


In the alleyway between de jure and de facto, Jim Crow conceived a son. Even though the deed took place in broad daylight, everybody tried not to notice, and in time some would even try to pretend it hadn't happened. For most of his long life, Jim Crow Sr. had been a powerful and respected man. His word was law, his laws were obeyed and those who transgressed were punished without mercy. But in his dotage these crude and brutal ways became a liability. Finally, and after some protest, he was banished. Some claimed he had died. But nobody found the body.

Junior, meanwhile, was adopted by a local family and raised with all the refinement and courtesy that his father never had. While the father had railed against the changes that ousted him, the son adapted to them. But he cultivated the same allies and pursued the same goals, and in time he too would become powerful and respected. With little use for curse words or ostentatious displays of authority, he was most effective when not drawing attention to himself.

Over the past year the small town of Jena, Louisiana, has vividly established the genealogical link between the two generations of Jim Crow. Paradoxically it has taken the symbolism of the old--complete with nooses and all-white juries--for the nation to engage with the substance of the new: the racial inequalities in America's penal and judicial systems. For what is truly shocking about Jena is not that it has happened here but that the most egregious aspects of it are happening all across America every day. Go into any courthouse in any city and you will see it playing out. Like Rodney King, Hurricane Katrina or Sean Bell, it has revealed to the rest of the country what black America already knows. "If the media wasn't watching what was going on then every last one of those kids would be in jail right now," says Tina Jones, the mother of Bryant Purvis, who was there when the recent round of trouble started.

Fittingly for a post-civil rights story, it began with the discrepancy between what you are allowed to do and what you can do. In August last year, Kenneth Purvis asked the principal at Jena High School if he could sit under the "white tree"--a place in the school courtyard where white students hung out during break. The principal said Purvis could sit where he liked. So the next day he went with his cousin Bryant and stood under the tree. The morning after that three nooses dangled from the tree. The overwhelmingly white school board judged the nooses a youthful prank and punished the culprits with brief suspensions. Black parents and students were angry, and months of racial tension followed. Police were called to the school several times because of fights between black and white students.

The principal called an assembly at which the local district attorney, Reed Walters, warned, "See this pen? I can end your lives with the stroke of a pen." The black students say he was looking at them when he said it; Walters denies it.

In an unsolved arson case, a wing of the school was burned down. A few days later, Justin Sloan, a white man, attacked black students who tried to go to a white party in town. Sloan was charged with battery and put on probation. A few days after that a white boy pulled a gun on three black students in a convenience store. One of the black students wrestled the gun from him and took it home, only to find himself charged with theft of a firearm, second-degree robbery and disturbing the peace. The white student who produced the gun was not charged.

On December 4, in school, a group of black students attacked a white student, Justin Barker, after they heard him bragging about a racial assault his friend had made. Barker, 17, had a concussion and his eye was swollen shut. He spent a few hours in the hospital and on his release went to a party, where friends described him as "his usual smiling self."

The six black students were arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder--a charge that requires the use of a deadly weapon. Walters argued that the sneakers used to kick Barker were indeed deadly weapons. Mychal Bell, 17, became the first of what are now known as the Jena Six to be convicted on reduced charges by an all-white jury, and he faced up to twenty-two years in jail. His black court-appointed attorney called no witnesses and offered no defense. Bell's conviction was overturned by an appeals court, which ruled that he shouldn't have been tried as an adult. At the time of this writing he sits in jail waiting to hear his fate, and a huge civil rights march is set to descend on Jena.

These incidents have turned Jena into a national symbol of racial injustice. As such it is both a potent emblem and a convenient whipping boy. Potent because it shines a spotlight on how race and class conspire to deny black people equality before the law. According to the Justice Department, blacks are almost three times as likely as whites to have their cars searched when they are pulled over and more than twice as likely to be arrested. They are more than five times as likely as whites to be sent to jail and are sentenced to 20 percent longer jail time. This would not be a problem for the likes of Kobe Bryant, but in Jena's "quarters" high-powered legal teams are hard to come by.

Convenient because it allows the rest of the nation to dismiss the incidents as the work of Southern redneck backwoodsmen without addressing the systemic national failures it showcases. According to the Sentencing Project, the ten states with the highest discrepancy between black and white incarceration rates include Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York and none from the South. What took place in Jena is not aberrant; it's consistent. The details are a local disgrace. The broader themes are a national scandal. Jim Crow Jr. travels well--unencumbered by historical baggage.

"Jena is America," says Alan Bean, executive director of Friends of Justice, who has been working with the Jena Six. "The new Jim Crow is the criminal justice system and its impact on poor people in general and people of color in particular. We don't always get the exotic trimmings like the nooses."
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Old 09-20-2007, 03:57 PM   #27
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When you read about the events leading up to the fight, it's completely ridiculous what went on. I guess it took a white kid getting his ass whipped to draw attention to it.

I love this part...white kid pulls a gun on some black kids, one of them wrestles the gun away and is charged with theft. Are you kidding me? Wow, if I'm ever in Jena I hope no one pulls a gun on me, if they do I'd better just let them do what they please, up to and including shooting me, or risk being charged with stealing my attacker's gun. Of course, I'm white, so I'd probably be in the clear.
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Old 09-20-2007, 04:02 PM   #28
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I think it's the "and took it home" part that explains the theft charge. But that the white boy wasn't charged with aggravated assault for introducing a gun into the argument to begin with is one more symptom of the inequitable justice.
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Old 09-20-2007, 04:13 PM   #29
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I think it's the "and took it home" part that explains the theft charge. But that the white boy wasn't charged with aggravated assault for introducing a gun into the argument to begin with is one more symptom of the inequitable justice.
I'm sure. But when you look at the series of events as a whole it really speaks to the culture down there. I wouldn't want to be a black man in Jena I don't think. The way the school, police, and DA handled the various incidents screams racism. It's not even the type of insidious racism that I expect in 21st century America; this is blatant in-your-face racism.

That DA sounds like a real piece of work...
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Old 09-20-2007, 06:26 PM   #30
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I think Reed Walters is a racist, no question, and that goes for the Jena school board superintendent and several of the police involved in the various events preceding the "Jena 6 incident" as well. And there is some debate out there as to whether a Title VI charge of intentional discrimination might be successfully pursued against them, not (in Walters' case) on account of the "stroke of a pen" speech but on the grounds of a clear pattern of deliberately inequitable treatment before the law. In some ways that would be the most desirable outcome of all because then it might force DAs all over the country, not just in Jena, to confront the pattern of inequitable sentencing along race and class lines that prevails pretty much everywhere.
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