LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters is feeling rather put upon these days. In fact, he’s felt compelled to defend himself in The New York Times. The way he sees it, he’s simply trying to pursue justice in the case of the Jena 6, and for his trouble, he’s being castigated, chastised and – dare I say it – crucified for his attempt to serve the people of Jena, LaSalle Parish, Louisiana, the United States, Earth, the Universe to put it in Thornton Wilder terms.
Even now people are calling for an investigation into his actions – actions which seemed to suggest favoritism toward whites and prejudice toward blacks that suggests miscarriage – or at least misappropriation – of that justice he claims to seek:
There was serious bodily harm inflicted with a dangerous weapon â€” the definition of aggravated second-degree battery. Mr. Bellâ€™s conviction on that charge as an adult has been overturned, but I considered adult status appropriate because of his role as the instigator of the attack, the seriousness of the charge and his prior criminal record. – Reed Walters (italics mine)
The “dangerous weapon” that Mr. Walters refers to was a tennis shoe.
No matter how one feels about Mychal Bell’s past misconduct, Walters’ continuing press to prosecute both Bell and the other Jena 6 defendants as severely as possible raises questions about the sense of legal impartiality which he claims for himself in his NYT op-ed. In fact, Walters has argued that his actions are guided by Jesus – and that Jesus has protected him and Jena during this “ordeal” of struggling to bring justice to the Jena case:
I firmly believe and am confident of the fact that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday (the day of the Jena demonstration against the unjust treatment of the Jena 6 defendants), a disaster would have happened…. The Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people, and they responded accordingly….
He then went on to thank Jesus and say that the only way he and the people of Jena “have been able to endure the trauma that has been thrust upon us is through the prayers of the Christian people who have sent them up in this community….”
Of course some of his “opponents,” (those who think that filing murder charges against high school kids for a school yard attack while those guilty of hate crimes, beating of blacks and brandishing weapons go lightly punished because they’re white does not not exactly reflect what justice is) have a different interpretation of Mr. Walters’ appropriation of Jesus Christ as protector of the status quo in Jena:
For him to try and separate the community like he is and then using Christ Jesus to influence the people that Jesus is working on their side, well, that’s — that’s absurd. … God is god of the human race…. Reverend Donald Sidley
Having grown up in the South a good Episcopalian boy, while I’ve never shared Mr. Walters’ evangelical fervor, I do know my Bible. I’d recommend that he spend some time contemplating Matthew 7:1:
Judge not, lest ye be judged.
Or maybe he can think some about the spirit as well as the letter of the law.