Jena get ready…there’s a media train coming…

Areval.jpg rally in Chicago Saturday, September 15, set the stage for a major media event in Jena,jessejackson.jpg 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.

10 replies »

  1. Next the Jena 6 will be hailed as heroes for taking up the black cause and taking it to a fellow white pupil.

    I believe it wrong to *think* racist thoughts but one cannot legislate against it. If nooses are hung as a gesture one could only find, hopefully, the guilty parites and punish accordingly. Whether one agrees with the punishment would be a separate discussion.

    One blow has the potential to kill a human.

  2. As you know, I’ve never been a big Jesse fan. Ditto Al, although I grant you he was the most entertaining thing about the 2004 campaign season.

    I note that Bell is in jail and can’t make bail. Jesse and Al care enough to roll the Big Media Show into town. But – you’d have to think that, if their main concern was the wellbeing of the accused, between them they could scrape up the cash to post his bail, right? These men have some resources, right?

    So what do I conclude about that?

    The Jena 6 case is a legit, heavyweight issue, and I think I’ve been pretty clear with how I feel about a glaring miscarriage of due process here.

    But does the presence of Jackson and Sharpton add credible heft to the protest or do they, simply by showing up, trivialize the problem?

    Put another way: are they about the Jena 6, or are the Jena 6 about them?

  3. Elaine: I understand your point. But it’s equally wrong to prosecute blacks for beating a white and not prosecute whites for beating a black. That’s what happened in Jena and what led to this mess.

    Well, that and the action of the students who hung nooses in the first place. They created the original problems with such an overtly hateful act. Then for them to receive only the slightest of punishment for what is known here as a “hate crime” set in motion all these unfortunate events…

  4. Sam: I’m no Jesse or Al fan, either, as you know. But what they are useful for is turning media scrutiny on Jena. And that media scrutiny may help bring pressure for the clearly race based wrongs done here to be righted.

    If Jackson and Sharpton bring that to Jena, that’s enough to offset their own posturing and posing….

  5. Maybe, but there’s a lot of media scrutiny on anything Britney Spears does, too. My worry is that they don’t bring legit scrutiny, they instead attach their own irrelevance to something that matters.

    If black leaders are going train into Jena I’d prefer to see Barack and Condoleezza than Jesse and Al.

  6. Elaine:

    The issue here is not whether or not some boys should be punished for an assault. I’ve found very few writers who suggest they should escape punishment. There are actually several issues:

    1. Hanging nooses is WORSE than burning a cross in someone’s yard. It is not OK to intimidate, terrorize, or otherwise cause 12% or so of Jena’s population to look over their shoulders at night for fear that what happened to James Byrd, Jr. (dragged to death behind a truck for being black in East Texas).

    2. Unequal justice is never OK. We have one black teen beaten and having a beer bottle broken over his head by a white man. The white man got a slap on the wrist. Another white teen pulled a shotgun on some of the accused in a parking lot. The accused wrested the gun away from the teen. The teen was not charged, but the accused were charged with theft for taking the shotgun that was aimed at them.

    3. Intimidation part deux. The DA goes to the high school after a black protest under the “white tree” over the nooses. In that high school, black kids sit on one side of the auditorium and whites on another. The DA looks straight at the black kids, and tells them that he can end their lives with the stroke of a pen. THAT for mounting a peaceful protest.

    4. Unequal justice part deux. The jury was all white. The only male juror was a schoolmate and good friend of the victim’s (Justin Bell’s) father. The only person to testify that Mychal Bell kicked Justin Baker was Justin Cooper … one of the noose hangers.

    Jessica Hooter testified that she saw Bell throw the first punch. But just a few days after the assault, she said she didn’t know who threw the first punch. Then she “remembered.” Bell’s attorney didn’t bring this up in cross.

    All the witnesses against Bell were white. Most had gone to private, segregated academies.

    Coach Benjy Lewis gave a statement that the victim (Barker) was facing him when Michael Shaw, not Bell, hit him from behind. Lewis was not called as a witness.

    There are many more problems with this case. This is just a sample.

    SO, what we have is a clear case of ignoring or giving light slaps on the wrist to white people, and trying to get black people sent to prison as adults for a very, very long time for infractions that are no worse and, in some cases, not nearly as bad.

    BTW, Elaine, I didn’t notice your getting all upset about a white kid pulling a shotgun on black kids. Is a shotgun not as deadly as a fist, or is it just that black kids aren’t quite … ummm … human to you?