aerdran: (Dante's Hell)
[personal profile] aerdran
I thought that you might all like an update on the Jena 6 trials in Louisiana. I joined a website for Friends of Justice and get updates on this all, and I'm going to share my recent e-mail. It definitely gives me hope! The more voices that are heard, the better the chances for these kids, so don't be silent! Please, pass it on and continue to pass it on.

A step that gives some encouragement and hope is that the "White Tree" at the school has been cut down and chopped into firewood, as you'll see in the e-mail.

I'm seriously wanting to go to another one of the protests in Jena. I really would love to do that.

You'll note farther down the e-mail that people have e-mailed the governor only to have a staffer reply that the governor can't do anything to help, what with the three branches of government being separate and all. I was one of those who wrote and got that reply, and frankly, it pisses me off. She could, at the very damn least, speak up and say something about the injustice, but she doesn't even seem to be able to do that. It's very disheartening, really.



Posted: 01 Aug 2007 11:40 AM CDT

Friends:

Three hundred people from across the nation descended on little Jena, Louisiana on July 31st. They came to pledge their support to the Jena 6 defendants and their families. At the end of a two-hour rally, a dozen volunteers hand-delivered over 43,000 petitions demanding that District Attorney Reed Walters back away from the worst prosecutorial decision of his life.

I must apologize for my recent silence. Friends of Justice has just completed a major (and momentous) move from Tulia, Texas to Arlington, Texas, and it has been impossible for me to send out updates or even remember my middle name. So much has happened in recent days and the media coverage has been remarkably intense and varied.

Most of you will have heard that Mychal Bell’s sentencing hearing has been postponed until September. Mychal’s attorneys have filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that Mychal should not have been tried as an adult and that his trial was hopelessly flawed. The judge appears willing to hear arguments in support of these assertions—very good news for Mychal and his parents.

Some amazing legal talent is being recruited to the defense effort. The details are still falling into place so I can’t give a great deal of detail, but rest assured that the Jena 6 defendants will be effectively represented.

The response to the appeal for support of the Jena 6 Defense Fund has been phenomenal, outstripping our most optimistic projections. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.

Yesterday’s rally was a tremendous success: (http://www.nola.com/newsflash/louisiana/index.ssf?/base/news-33/1185888575136460.xml&storylist=louisiana).

The numbers were very impressive and there will be more opportunities for supporters of the Jena 6 to come to Jena (and probably also to the state capitol in Baton Rouge) in the next few months. Stay tuned for updates.

The highlight yesterday (for me, at least) was a barbecue held at a ball park on the black side of town. An enormous tent had been erected to protect everyone from the sun and rain (we had a plenty of both) and people from across the nation were given a wonderful opportunity to interact. I moved from table to table, gathering contact information and listening to stories. People traveled to Jena from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and from dozens of little towns in Texas and Louisiana. The gathering was exceptionally diverse, about two-thirds black and one-third white, with large numbers of college students and retirees in attendance. Not surprisingly, most of the people who traveled to Jena are actively fighting for justice in their own communities.

Many of you will also have heard that the infamous “white tree” in the square at the Jena High School has been sawed down and chopped into fire wood: (http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070731/NEWS01/707310334/1060/NEWS01). School officials hope this move will reduce tensions between black and white students. Perhaps. But the tree in Jena was never the problem; the problem was using a tree as a segregating line in the air.

The media coverage of the Jena story remains strong. Wade Goodwyn did an excellent feature for NPR’s All Things Considered on Monday; two days later it remains the most emailed piece on the NPR site: (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12353776). NBC Nightly News did a little “town divided” story last night (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/). Unfortunately, the only white guy in town willing to talk to the media is school board member, Billy Fowler. Fowler resents the repeated suggestion that Jena is a uniquely racist community; but he agrees that the entire situation, from the noose incident to the school fight, has been handled badly.

I don’t have time at the moment to give adequate attention to each of the major articles that have appeared recently, but a few brief observations are in order. Several articles in the regional media focus on a DOJ-sponsored town hall meeting held in Jena last Thursday (http://www.thetowntalk.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007707260329 and http://www.thetowntalk.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070727/NEWS01/707270319/1002). United States Attorney, Don Washington was on hand along with Carmelita Freeman, a DOJ official from Dallas, and a representative from the FBI. They expected a crowd of about 20 people and got ten times that number—virtually every African American adult in Jena and a handful of white residents. That gives you a good feel for how things presently stand: white folks are on the defensive. There is a growing realization that Mr. Walters dropped the ball. On the other hand, the carpetbaggers and scalawags from the North telling Jena how to amend its wicked ways are deeply resented.

I have had dealings with US Attorney Don Washington in the past. He is the man who was forced to drop charges against Ann Colomb and three of her sons last year. Even though evidence emerged that the convicted drug dealer snitches who testified at trial were participating in a tightly organized perjury ring, Mr. Washington couldn’t admit that he and his assistants had screwed up.

So it goes in Jena. Washington admits that the nooses constituted a hate crime, but he says his hands are tied. Unless he can prove that Reed Walters intended to discriminate against the Jena 6, Washington says, he can’t take action.

Governor Blanco is also passing the buck. Some of the 43,000 people who have emailed their concern to the governor’s office have received “thanks for sharing, but I can’t help” responses from a staffer. This means that we need to turn up the heat another notch.

Finally, it appears that the national NAACP has joined the fight with a vengeance. Go to their website (http://www.naacp.org/) and Jena jumps out at you. (They feature a picture of the wrong tree—but I guess that’s a moot criticism now.) We welcome the support of America’s most prestigious civil rights organization. We are currently taking steps to enhance coordination and communication within the rapidly expanding coalition of civil rights and civil liberties organizations gathering around the Jena 6.

I will be writing more when I get back to Arlington. If you appreciate the work of Friends of Justice in Jena, please consider making a donation to support our organizing across Texas and Louisiana. You can donate online here, or send a check to the address below. You can also designate donations to the Jena 6 Organizing Fund to support our work for the Jena 6: http://friendsofjustice.wordpress.com/jena-6/



Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly.

Alan Bean

Friends of Justice
3415 Ainsworth Court
Arlington, TX 76016
806-729-7889 or 817-457-0025

Other coverage worth checking out:

http://www.aspendailynews.com/article_20958

A recent column from Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.

http://www.blackamericaweb.com/site.aspx/bawnews/jenasix731

A helpful Blackwebamerica update.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11756302

Jordan Flaherty and Caseptla Bailey interview from NPR, July 5




So please please please people, speak out! Pass this story on through your LJs, by word of mouth, e-mail, or however you can. Let's see if we can't force a little justice past the racism and get these kids a fair deal. It means a lot to me, and it should mean a lot to you, too.

x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] betherevolution
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