Jena, LA its a shame

mslanee1mslanee1 Posts: 439Registered Users
Jena Six Ignites Rally
By: Vanessa Rozier
Posted: 8/27/07

Mychal Bell was a 16 year-old high school sophomore at Jena High School in Louisiana and starter on the school's football team. But after being convicted of second-degree battery, his biography does not read the same. Bell is just one of the six young men who make up the Jena Six and whose lives will never be the same.

The story of the Jena Six began on Aug. 31, 2006, when a black student in Jena, La. asked permission to sit underneath what was understood as the "white tree" at school - and he did. The next day, three nooses were found hanging from the tree. Three white students were held responsible for this and were recommended to be expelled from school. The school board and superintendent, however, decided that in-school suspension would suffice.
In outrage over the suspension, black students organized a protest and, again, sat underneath the "white tree." Over the weekend were two incidents of discrimination, one almost ending in a shoot-out.

That Friday night, Robert Bailey, one of the Six, was punched and kicked at a party attended by mostly white students. Then, Saturday, there was a confrontation between a group of black students and one of the white students involved in Friday's fight.
Once back at school, Justin Barker, a white student, teased Bailey about getting beat up Friday night and used racial slurs to do so. One student punched Barker in the back of the head and others kicked him while he was down, leaving him unconscious. The ambulance arrived to pick Barker up, but he was never officially hospitalized and, later that night, went to a school function.

Six black students were arrested and charged for the school fight and their bonds were set - the highest reached $138,000.

Each student is being tried as equally responsible for Barker's injuries in the school fight and are being charged with second-degree assault - initially the charge was for second-degree attempted murder.

Bell was the first to stand trial in July. After being represented by a public defendant who did not call witnesses in Bell's defense, an all-white jury convicted him of aggravated battery and conspiracy charges after two days of deliberation. On Friday, Bell was denied a reduction in bail, set at $90,000, after four previous brushes with the law were revealed. He now faces up to 22 years in prison.

On July 31, between 200 and 300 supporters rallied at the Courthouse in Louisiana in support of Bell and all of the defendents.
While protests are being made and outrage is spreading nation-wide, Howard students are organizing to put their minds and wallets together to raise enough money and awareness to free the Jena Six.

On Sept. 5, Howard will host a rally in support of the Jena Six at the Rankin Memorial Chapel. There will be a national rally in Jena on Sept. 20 in conjunction with other universities and individuals who wish to support the Six and to uphold the justice system to provide equal justice for all.

Junior speech communication major Victoria Kirby is a member of the Save the Jena Six Planning Committee and feels that this issue cannot be ignored.

"It's crucial for us to be involved," Kirby said of the Howard University community. "What we do affects what happens in the black community."

Chigozie Onyema is a part of the planning team as well. The group is working to raise money for and awareness about the Jena Six cases. "It would behoove students at a Historically Black University to show solidarity with any case that calls into question the blindfold that the court is supposed to wear," he said. Onyema is a senior African American studies major and the president of the Howard chapter of Amnesty International.

"Historically, there has been a separate criminal justice system for black and white citizens," he said. He then referred to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail saying that it taught us that "an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Friday marks one year since six brave teenagers sat underneath the "white tree," which was cut down this summer. They proved that racism is still around and their trials in the upcoming months will show us all if it's here it stay.
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Comments

  • AmandacurlsAmandacurls Posts: 6,252Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    That is so awful, it's bad that some people still can't see that we're all the same, we're the HUMAN RACE. No matter how different we might be on the outside, we're the same on the inside. I hate racial crimes like this because no one wins, everyone loses.
  • SuburbanbushbabeSuburbanbushbabe Posts: 15,402Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    The "white" tree???? :munky2: TSTL...
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  • AmandacurlsAmandacurls Posts: 6,252Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    The "white" tree???? :munky2: TSTL...

    Yeah, that's pretty stupid, I didn't know trees had races now too! :banghead:
  • mslanee1mslanee1 Posts: 439Registered Users
    Thats what my husband said. He couldnt get passed the fact they had to 'ask' to sit under the 'white tree'.
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  • AmandacurlsAmandacurls Posts: 6,252Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    mslanee1 wrote:
    Thats what my husband said. He couldnt get passed the fact they had to 'ask' to sit under the 'white tree'.

    ITA. I think the teachers and administration should have never allowed any tree or whatever else to be designated white, black, or whatever else. And if the students persisted they should have cut it down. Aren't these people there to help prevent conflict?
  • susancnwsusancnw Posts: 1,374Registered Users Curl Novice
    Mslanee...in your article you forget to mention that the young man had a prior history of violence.

    Before anyone gets their panties in a wad, I think it was sheer idiocy that the student thought he had to ask permission. HOWEVER, when I was in school in Tx, GA and TN...there were certain 'areas' of campuses and quads that were sort of staked out. The preppies were there, the jocks were over here, the stoners had that corner (usually behind the field house:D)...and being a new student, he wouldn't have necessarily have been aware of it...so he asked. I think it was an innocent question (I was the new kid almost every year of school) that, through the sheer idiocy, narrowmindedness and just plain hatefulness of others, rapidly developed into something much worse that ended in violence.

    I have no doubt that there are still ignorant racists around...and yes, I've run into a lot of them in the north. But this gets so much media and what never gets press are the communities where the kids and adults get along. Where they visit in each other's homes, worship in the same churches, go to the same schools, etc. The attention is always directed at what is going wrong and not exactly how far we have come. 50 years ago this would not have made the news on any level anywhere. The fact that it is such a big issue shows that we have come a long ways and this behavior is not acceptable. But the fact that race baiters like Jackson and Sharpton got involved made the situation worse.
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