Saturday, September 22, 2007

Quick Jena 6 Roundup

My man The Field Negro is on it, noting that not only was the march in solidarity with the Jena 6 a success (I've read somewhere it described as a harbinger of a resurgent Civil Rights movement - which I hope is true), and that of course the BBBs largely dropped the ball in providing any sort of meaningful coverage.

On the success end, for once CNN turned out to be actually useful:
Thousands of protesters clogged the tiny town of Jena, Louisiana, Thursday to show their indignation over what they consider unjust, unequal punishments meted out in two racially charged incidents.

They swarmed over the grounds of Jena High School, where nooses were hung from a tree in early August 2006, about three months before six black teens known as the "Jena 6" were accused of beating a white classmate.

While the tension was palpable, news broke Thursday afternoon that the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal ordered a hearing within 72 hours to determine if the only one of the six still behind bars can be released.

The order has "got to be good," Mychal Bell's attorney, Bob Noel, told CNN. "It means we have a day in court. Any day in court is going to be a good day."

Earlier, there was an aura of a pilgrimage at the site where the controversial tree once stood before school administrators had it removed.

Many people touched the ground and some retrieved a lump of dirt, said CNN's Eric Marrapodi. He said the part of the town he was in was ill-prepared for the crowds -- no water or toilets were available.

In the background, groups shouted "Black power" and "No justice, no peace."

The estimated 15000 to 20,000 demonstrators shut down the town of 3,000 in central Louisiana. Many residents left for the day, and government agencies, businesses and schools were closed.

Sgt. Tim Ledet of the Louisiana State Police said protesters in buses were still bringing people to town at midday because of the gridlock, but many protesters got off and walked into town on foot.

[snip]

Hundreds of college students from historically black schools such as Howard University in Washington traveled to Jena, along with civil rights activists such as Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who helped organize the event. Martin Luther King III also attended, saying, "This is about justice for the six young men."

Sharpton called Jena the beginning of the 21st century civil rights movement.

"There's a Jena in every state," Jackson told the crowd in Jena on Thursday morning.

JoAnn Scales, who brought her three teenage children on a two-day bus journey from Los Angeles, California, to Jena, made the same point.

"The reason I brought my children is because it could have been one of them" involved in an incident like the one in Jena.

"If this can happen to them [the Jena 6] , it can happen to anyone," Scales said.

Ondra Hathaway was on the bus with Scales.

"If this young man [Bell] was railroaded to do time as an adult, how many more people has that happened to?" she said.

Jackson said on CNN's "American Morning" on Thursday that the charges against the black youths, their possible jail terms if convicted and their bail amounts are "excessive."

Punishing the teens with probation would have been sufficient, Jackson said.

Bails for the Jena 6 were between $70,000 and $138,000, and all but Bell have posted bond. Bell, 17, has been in prison since his arrest. The judge has refused to lower his $90,000 bail, citing Bell's record, which includes four juvenile offenses -- two simple battery charges among them.

Bell was 16 at the time of the attack; 17 is the legal adult age in Louisiana.

One of the more disturbing events surrounding the protest:
ALEXANDRIA, Louisiana (CNN) -- A Louisiana city that hosted many of the "Jena 6" protesters Thursday became the site of a racially charged incident of its own.

Authorities in Alexandria, less than 40 miles southwest of Jena, arrested two people who were driving a red pickup Thursday night with two nooses hanging off the back, repeatedly passing groups of demonstrators who were waiting for buses back to their home states. [...]

The driver of the red truck, whom Alexandria police identified as Jeremiah Munsen, 18, was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor -- a reference to the 16-year-old passenger. Munsen also was charged with driving while intoxicated and inciting to riot, according to the police report. [...]

The passenger told police he and his family are in the Ku Klux Klan and that he had KKK tattooed on his chest, the police report said. He also said that he tied the nooses and that the brass knuckles belonged to him, the report said.
Hat tip to my man, Nezua!

Of course the goons who hung nooses in Jena, thus starting a chain of events leading up to the present, have inspired some copycats in NC:
Police are investigating an incident in which students and faculty said four nooses were hung from a tree at the school.The finding occurred Friday morning at Andrews High School.Guilford County Schools said it was working with the High Point Police Department on the investigation.
Racism is very much alive and well in the US. Ignore at your own risk.

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