A rally in Chicago Saturday, September 15, set the stage for a major media event in Jena, LA,on Thursday, September 20. Both Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton have pledged that a demonstration against the treatment of the group now known as “The Jena 6” will go forward in spite of a Louisiana appeals court ruling that overturned the conviction of Mychal Bell, the first of the group of Jena high school students originally charged with attempted murder in a school yard fight.
The presence of Sharpton and Jackson, civil rights heavyweights, will assure that plenty of media attention will be focused on the Jena story. This will be a change from the past when the story was at first ignored by the main stream media. The rally in Jena offered Jackson the opportunity to note that Jena is merely an example of what he called the “continuing systemic mistreatment of African Americans” across America. He urged those who wished to join the protest against the Jena case who couldn’t get to Louisiana to look at their own communities and sspeak out accordingly:
Don’t just put your eye on the Jena jail system. If you can’t make it to Jena, go to 26th and California. – Jesse Jackson, referring to the site of the Cook County Jail.
Meanwhile, Mychal Bell remains in jail unable to make bail. And the LaSalle Parish district attorney, Reed Walters intends to keep him there:
Bell remains in jail, and the district attorney overseeing the case pledged to appeal the overturned conviction or bring new juvenile charges against him. – Chicago Tribune
It remains to be seen whether Jackson and Sharpton will be able to bring enough pressure on Jena to allow the case of the Jena 6 to reach a reasonable conclusion. But given the recalcitrance of the district attorney and the attitudes of Jena’s white community, one can only hope for the best – and prepare for the worst.