aerdran: (Outraged)
[personal profile] aerdran
I have to post this e-mail I received because I think it's important for people to see and get angry about. Please read.

Last fall in Jena, Louisiana, the day after two Black high school students sat beneath the "white tree" on their campus, nooses were hung from the tree. When the superintendent dismissed the nooses as a "prank," more Black students sat under the tree in protest. The District Attorney then came to the school accompanied by the town's police and demanded that the students end their protest, telling them, "I can be your best friend or your worst enemy... I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."1

A series of white-on-black incidents of violence followed, and the DA did nothing. But when a white student was beaten up in a schoolyard fight, the DA responded by charging six black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

It's a story that reads like one from the Jim Crow era, when judges, lawyers and all-white juries used the justice system to keep blacks in "their place"--but it's happening today. The families of these young men are fighting back, but the odds are stacked against them. Together, we can make sure their story is told, that this becomes an issue for the Governor of Louisiana, and that justice is provided for the Jena 6. It starts now. Please add your voice.

The noose-hanging incident and the DA's visit to the school set the stage for everything that followed. Racial tension escalated over the next couple of months, and on November 30, the main academic building of Jena High School was burned down in an unsolved fire. Later the same weekend, a black student was beaten up by white students at a party. The next day, black students at a convenience store were threatened by a young white man with a shotgun. They wrestled the gun from him and ran away. While no charges were filed against the white man, the students were arrested for the theft of the gun.2

That Monday at school, a white student, who had been a vocal supporter of the students who hung the nooses, taunted the black student who was beaten up at the off-campus party and allegedly called several black students "nigger." After lunch, he was knocked down, punched and kicked by black students. He was taken to the hospital but was released and was well enough to go to a social event that evening.3

Six Black Jena High students, Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (16) and an unidentified minor, were expelled from school, arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. Bail was set so high -- between $70,000 and $138,000 -- that the boys were left in prison for months as families went deep into debt to release them.4

The first trial ended last month, and Mychal Bell, who has been in prison since December, was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery (both felonies) by an all-white jury in a trial where his public defender called no witnesses. During his trial, Mychal's parents were ordered not to speak to the media and the court prohibited protests from taking place near the courtroom or where the judge could see them.

Mychal is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st, and could go to jail for 22 years. 5 Theo Shaw's trial is next. He will finally make bail this week.

The Jena Six are lucky to have parents and loved ones who are fighting tooth and nail to free them. They have been threatened but they are standing strong. We know that if the families have to go it alone, their sons will be a long time coming home. They will lose precious years to Jena's outrageous attempt to maintain a racist status quo. But if we act now, we can make a difference.

Please add your voice to the voices of these families in Jena, and help bring Mychal, Theo, Robert, Carwin, and Bryant home.
Thank You and Peace,

-- James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, and the rest of the team
July 17th, 2007


1. "Injustice in Jena as Nooses Hang From the ‘White Tree,'" truthout, July 3, 2007

2. "Racial demons rear heads," Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2007

3. See reference #1.

4. See reference #1.

5. "'Jena Six' defendant convicted," Town Talk, June 29, 2007

Other resources:

NPR: Searching for Justice in Jena 6 Case (streaming audio)

Democracy Now! - The case of the Jena Six ...

Too Sense: Free The Jena Six Now

While Seated: Jena Six

Nooses, attacks and jail for black students in Jena Louisiana

Justice In Jena, by Jordan Flaherty§ionID=30

The Perpetrator becomes the Prosecutor (and other related entries)

'Stealth racism' stalks deep South

x-posted to [ profile] betherevolution

Date: 2007-07-19 12:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
wait a second... this isn't... you can't be serious... dude. what the fuck?!

just... *facepalm*

why do people have to be total failures at life and hate others cause they have more melanin?

some people should just... not be allowed outside of their homes... ever.
those people (who are propagating this stupidity that is racism) are among that group.

Date: 2007-07-19 01:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I wish I had an adequate answer for your question. I will never understand it myself beyond the fact that some people will do anything to make themselves feel superior.

The justice system in general has a lot of catching up to do, and apparently more so, way more so in some places.

This sort of thing hits way too close to home and it hurts to know that people will do this sort of thing. And it make me very, very angry.

Date: 2007-07-19 01:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's horrible that something like that happened!

Date: 2007-07-19 01:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is.

One of the parts that boggles my mind the most is that Mychal Bell was charged with Aggravated Assault, and a deadly weapon must be used for that charge.

His deadly weapon?

Tennis shoes.

Yeah. Justice. It is to laugh.

Date: 2007-07-19 02:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
tennis shoes?!


those things can't kill you even if they are chucked at the back of your head... trust me on this!

Date: 2007-07-19 02:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know, isn't it awful? And the case where the black kids wrestled the gun away from the white guy pointing it at them and they got arrested for stealing his gun? Talk about wtf moments.

I'm just really worked up about this whole thing. Even with all the injustice I've seen against black people and minorities in general, this just freaking stuns me. Those poor kids and their families. Justice had better bloody well turn around and do the right thing here. Maybe the more voices that are heard, the better chance that'll happen.

I sure as hell hope so.

Date: 2007-07-19 03:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sad thing is, it don't suprise me none. Guess that don't suprise you.

Someday maybe people'll beleive this shit really does happen to us. Someday maybe they won't try and sweep it all under the rug and make like everything's all sunshine and roses. It ain't, tho it ain't usually so out and out as it is in this story. Fucking pisses me off. Those kids being railroaded and even the media don't care. Sounds a little familier, don't it?

Thanks for getting shit like this out for people to see. Maybe if more people read it something can be done. I can dream anyways.


Date: 2007-07-19 05:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Makes it all the fucking worse when you just know these kids, if convicted, will never be allowed to live life like they could otherwise. Don't matter why you went to prison. If you went, you're stuck with that for fucking life and that just piles on more prejudice.

Fucking justice system.


Date: 2007-07-19 07:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
how absolutley dispicable. Reminds me of a time to kill the john grishom novel. you'd think with america in the state its in today on high alert that all this race related bull would be put aside. Its war up on war, and the rich want only 1 side to win it.

Date: 2007-07-19 09:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Unbelieveable. It should have been stopped at the beginning with the school kicking up a stink about the nooses and the 'white tree', looking for the students who did that.

I do want to pick up the point about 'all white' juries though. Whilst they should not be all white, I don't like the implication that an all white jury will make racist assumptions based on skin colour. You said a poor defence case was made. Not all 'whites' are racist jerks. Then again, that place does sound like it has more than its fair share of vicious bigots.

Date: 2007-07-19 09:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think that was the point about the statement. There is already obviously quite severe racial equality in Jena, and the fact that an all white jury was used is indicative of the problem. There should have been a change of venue so it could be tried away from the people there who are already obviously biased against the blacks. It should have been obvious that there was going to be no real chance for the kids in that atmosphere.

Of course, it was ridiculous as hell that it even got to the point where they're putting juveniles on trial as adults for a battery charge. That's usually reserved for homicide and some drug crimes. It's obviously fucked all over. Hopefully something can be done about it and the kids don't have to go through too much more shit for a schoolyard fight.


Date: 2007-07-19 10:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I responded to the petition.

Date: 2007-08-02 02:18 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I posted it up on the local discussion page at our Big Ten School. It's being discussed and will soon be a published paper by a Doctoral Candidate of African American History.

Sometimes, I wonder if our world even as a hope.

Date: 2007-08-02 05:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You know, I think it does. I think it does because I see how all the people I've told have reacted. If the world didn't have hope, there wouldn't be people jumping up to protest, sign petitions, etc.

So there's hope so long as there's one person who fights injustice. That's something we all have to remember when we're ready to give up. Because giving up is the exact wrong thing to do.

I'm very glad it's being discussed! And that it's going to be in a paper.

I have lots of hope.

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