What if the victim was knocked unconscious but was released for the hospital
the same night?
What if the alleged victim testified that he didn’t KNOW hit him first?
Well, this is precisely what happened in the Jena 6 case.
Notably, the victim is white and the members of the Jena 6 are Black.
Bloggers tend to be ahead of the curve.
Changeseeker put me on to the Jena 6.
petition a month or two ago.
However, I wasn’t compelled to write about it ’til Gotty reminded
me of how the case was being buried by Micheal Vick stories.
Jena, Louisiana is a town comprised of approximately
3000 residents, and approximately, 350 Black folks.
Apparently last summer, some of the Black students asked to sit under
the “white tree”. Here is the backstory:
On a late summer day in 2006, in Jena, Louisiana, a Black high school student asked permission to sit beneath the ?white tree? in front of the town?s high school. It was unspoken law that this shady area was for whites only during school breaks. But a student asked, and the vice principal said nothing was stopping them. So Black students sat underneath the tree, challenging the established authority of segregation and racism. The next day, hanging from the tree, were three ropes, in school colors, each tied to make a noose.
The attack was brushed off as a ?youthful stunt.? The three white students
responsible, given only three days of in-school suspension.
In response to the incident, several Black students, among them star players on the football team, staged a sit-in under the tree. The principal reacted by bringing in the white district attorney, Reed Walters, and 10 local police officers to an all-school assembly.
Police officers roamed the halls of the school that week, and tensions simmered throughout the fall semester.
In November, as football season came to a close, the main school building was mysteriously burned to the ground. This traumatic event seemed to bring to the surface the boiling racial tensions in Jena.
This is the background that let up TO THE FIGHT that happend on December 6th. The following is a description of what happened prior the major Jena Six Event.
On a Friday night [Friday December 3rd,2006], Robert Bailey, a 17-year-old Black student and football player, was invited to a dance at a hall considered to be ?white.? When he walked in, without warning he was punched in the face, knocked on the ground and attacked by a group of white youth. Only one of the white youth was arrested?he was ultimately given probation and asked to apologize.
The night after that, a 22-year-old white man, along with two friends, pulled a gun on Bailey and two of his friends at a local gas station. The Black youths wrestled the gun from him to prevent him from using it. They were arrested and charged with theft, and the white man went free.
The following Monday students returned to school. In the midst of a confrontation between a white student, Justin Barker, and a Black student, Robert Bailey?where Bailey was taunted for having been beaten up that weekend?a chaotic fray ensued. Barker was allegedly knocked down, punched, and kicked by a number of Black students. He was taken to the hospital for a few hours and was seen out socializing later that evening.
The six young people, including Mychal Bell were charged
with attempted murder and conspiracy charges.
Many charge that DA’s handling of the case is evidence of a Jim Crow/1992/Emmit Till legal system at work.
Mychal Bell, 16, a former Jena High School football star, and five other black students had been facing the potential of up to 100 years in prison if convicted of attempted murder, conspiracy and other charges for the December beating of the white student, who was knocked unconscious but not hospitalized. The incident capped months of escalating racial tensions at the high school that began after several white youths hung nooses from a tree in the school courtyard in a taunt aimed at blacks.
There was conflicting testimony from witnesses about
whether Bell was among a group of black students who allegedly
jumped the victim.
There are a series of peculiarities around this case.
The jury pool was entirely white, the defense rested without calling
any witnesses, Bell’s parents were excluded from the courtroom
Mychal has been in jail since December, unable to post $90,000 bail.
As of June 26th, the charges were reduced to aggravated second-degree
battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery,
which together carry a maximum of 22 years in prison.
Aggravated battery involves the use of a dangerous weapon, but no evidence
of a gun, knife or other weapon was introduced
As of June 26 Bell has been convicted and his case is up or appeal.
A group of Monroe defense lawyers have taken on the appeal of Mychal Bell, one of six black high school students known as the Jena six, convicted last month of beating a white fellow student.
Louis Scott, Bob Noel, Peggy Sullivan and Lee Perkins have agreed to work on Bell’s post-conviction matters in a case and trial Scott described as fraught with errors.
“Almost always when you have an unfair result, somewhere down the line you had an unfair process,” Scott said.
The fact that the May 20th Tribune report garnered the case national
attention speaks to the importance of journalists and the attention that
they can bring to an issue.
What if the Tribune never wrote about the Jena Six?
Peace to Howard Witt and all his journlistic del.ish.es.ness.
My question now is, where is the New York Times?
What can you do to help?
1. Sign the petition at colorofchange?
2. Use this as a teaching opportunity to educate people
on the importance of voting in national and local elections.
DA’s are elected NOT appointed.
In this case, the DA was instrumental in charging Bell as an adult,
and pursing an attempted murder charge against him.
3. Send a letter to the DA and the Governor. Peep the template
at the www.colorofchange.org.
What would you do if Bell was your son/brother/nephew?
What do the major papers have to lose by reporting on
Perhaps they won’t have to, as Oprah has taken up
the Jena 6 case.,