I started reading up on the Jena Six issue only after I came across a post on Umar Lee's blog. Strange that there has been no news coverage of the Jena Six around here. Disturbing even. Are we turning insular like the Americans [yes, I WILL generalize]? MORE.
This is not a story set in the times of the Civil War or a historic anomaly. These are events that have unfolded in present day America, Deep South or not being irrelevant. See here for another related article.
Most disturbing points that stand out:
1. We learn of blatant Black-White segregation even today, in a high school in Jena, a small town in Louisiana.
2. Black students had to ask the principal permission to sit under the shade of a 'White tree'. They do so.
3. The KKK-style noose act by the White students is brushed under the carpet as a 'joke in bad taste.'
4. Black-White tension simmers through the high school for the entire semester. And passes on into the town.
5. A Black student, Robert Bailey, is assaulted at a dance considered to be 'White'. Only one White youth is arrested. He is eventually given probation and asked to apologize.
6. White man pulls a gun on some Black students at a gas station. They wrestle it away from him and get charged with theft. White man goes free.
7. Confrontation between a White student, Justin Barker, and Bailey in school - Bailey is taunted for the attack on him at the dance, and a fray ensues. Barker is allegedly knocked down and beaten by a group of six Black students present at the time of the confrontation.
8. Barker hospitalized for a few hours but seen out and about the same night. No major damage.
9. Six Black students - The Jena Six - allegedly the attackers of Barker, were arrested, charged with attempted manslaughter and expelled from school.
10. The six were arrested in December 2006 with outrageously high bails ranging from USD 70,000 to USD 138,000, leaving all of them unable to post bail for many months.
11. The first student went on trial this June - Mychal Bell. He was tried by an all-White jury, presided on by a White judge.
11. Bell was convicted [big surprise] of two felonies: aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit second-degree battery and faced up to 22 years in prison.
In light of rising international outcry and the controversy this case has stirred up, there may be hope for the Jena Six yet.
On September 15, a Louisiana court overturned the conviction because Bell shouldn't have been tried as an adult on battery charges in the first place. (Bell was 16 at the time of the arrest.) Major irregularities have already been noted in Bell's trial, such as the public defender not producing a single defense witness..... Some other nonsense about the prosecutor using the argument that Bell's tennis shoes were a 'deadly weapon' and hence justified the charge of aggravated battery. Ye gods.
On September 20, a peaceful rally of more than 10,000 supporters of Jena Six took place in the small town. Among those present were Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King III, Al Sharpton, Mos Def and Salt n Pepa. Whatever.
Anyway, I'll be watching.