Mychal Bell's sentencing date has been changed from July 31 to September 20. He has a new attorney.
Some national entities have offered assistance and/or made public statements about the cases.
From the NAACP:
A team of concerned lawyers is volunteering their legal experience and research expertise to assist Bell in his appeal and stand ready to assist the other defendants. Professor Charles Ogletree, director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School, is also collaborating with the NAACP in the effort to secure justice for the young men.From the Congressional Black Caucus:
At the NAACP's 98th annual convention recently held in Detroit, an emergency resolution was passed in support of the Jena 6 and the LaSalle Parish Branch of the NAACP to fight against racial discrimination during the trial and in the community overall. "This case reflects a national trend involving disparate treatment of African Americans within the United States criminal justice system," the resolution reads.
The racial hotbed that burned for over nine months in Jena should have been contained by school and elected officials. Instead, the students were left to battle this rage without institutional support or resources.Additionally, either the NAACP or the Department of Justice (depends on the source; maybe it's a joint effort?) held a community education forum in Jena on Thursday night. The DoJ's goal is "peacemaking":
Therefore, the CBC urges the Judge to consider all the factors surrounding these events during sentencing of Mychal Bell, the first of the six students to be tried. Additionally, we appeal to the Jena District Attorney, Reed Walters, to drop the charges against the remaining five students.
Organizers say they are hoping Thursday's forum is the beginning of community reconciliation for the community.But some residents were "disappointed with the lack of racial diversity -- most of those in attendance were black."
In order for there to be peace there's got to be both sides," said J.L. George of Sicily Island.From Mychal Bell's father:
"I thought we wanted to resolve this," he said of the tensions, problems and injustice in the community. "We can't do that without both sides."I think there is more than a little denial in some of Jena's white residents--I've seen the "We don't have a race problem/Jena is no more racist that X-city" and also the blank-eyed stare of the local (white) librarian on the Democracy, Now! film who says she doesn't know what the nooses meant or why they were there. She relies on the prank theory.
As does U.S. Attorney Donald Washington who spoke at the forum:
Washington and [FBI Special Agent Lewis] Chapman talked about the definition of a hate crime... as it pertains to the nooses found hanging in a tree... at the high school.How he can stand flat-footed and say a noose can't be perceived as a threat towards black people in the U.S. South is beyond me. And I'll bet this was a prank as well:
"You're absolutely right," Chapman said, addressing the community member who asked if the hanging of the nooses was a hate crime.
"What you may not be aware of is that we... did an investigation."
That investigation's findings, he said, were given to Washington's office. Washington said there were all the elements of a hate crime but one -- threat or use of force.
"How would I prove that in this particular case?" Washington asked. "What's my evidence? ... Put yourself in my shoes, and tell me what you'd do differently."
Two men have been arrested after they ran over a church sign at a black church in [Jena]… just hours after the NAACP held a meeting at the Antioch Baptist Church to discuss the fate of the teenagers.Washington also addressed the complaints of selective and malicious prosecution (against LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters).
Washington said selective prosecution is very hard to prove, and in order to do so he would have to have to "dig in his head" to determine if Walters was treating black and white people differently.No, I don't know what's keeping him from digging.