Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Jena Six (continued)

H/T Professor BlackWoman and One Black Man

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.

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.
From the Congressional Black Caucus:
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.

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.
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":
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.

"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."
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:
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.


"Sweet D" said...

Again, The Europeans not copperating with the African Americans ....I have 1 question? ...How in the world do they expect peace with just 1 side showing up and the other side being Evil,Racisicist.....etc Careerman P.S. Jesus Christ is # 7 and Jena,Louisiana forgot that he is .."Alive" and "Well"...Smile Pharoah learn his "Lesson" Now Jena Authorities will have to face .."God's Wrath" Amen!

Zan said...

I'm not surprised at all that only one side attended the meeting, Elle. This happens over and over and over again. Racial tensions flare up, a public meeting is held, only one side shows up, complaints continue, time passes, things calm down, pattern repeats. Over and over again. Depending on who called the meeting, the white people feel that it's a 'blacks only' meeting or black people feel it's a 'whites only' meeting and nothing gets changed.

I can't understand why so many people refuse to see those nooses as a threat. Of course they were a threat! If they weren't a threat, then the 'prank' wouldn't have worked, would it? (Because yeah, it'sa prank. Uh huh.) Even if you believe the idea that it was a harmless prank, the only reason to place nooses in a tree is to suggest someone is going to be hanged. Nooses are tools of execution. They're not used for any other purpose. So, even if this was a 'prank', those kids were 'joking' that they were going to kill someone. Is that remotely funny to anyone? Anyone?

I hope the new lawyers are able to help these boys out. Blaine Williams has a habit of not calling any witnesses as a defense attorney. I've never seen him at trial when he did. (Although, I admittedly have not seen all his trials.) And he's clearly overworked as a public defender. But still. . .

Rebecca said...

Yeah, I'm with you on the noose thing, Elle. I can't for the life of me understand how anyone can look at a NOOSE, hanging from a TREE, in the SOUTH, and not see racism or an explicit threat there.

dobbypotter2001 said...

Again, as someone living in Jena, here is my two cents. I have said from the start that there is no excuse for those nooses to have been hung in the tree. There should have been a harsh punishment for the students that did that. I would not find it acceptable behavior anywhere, but especially not in the south where racial tension runs so close to the surface.
I have been doing a LOT of reading about the Jena six tonight. I agree that the charges against these boys were completely out of proportion to what happened. If Mr. Barker was well enough to attend a school function the night of the attack then I honestly don't understand how they are getting away with charging attempted murder, and I think it is wrong. HOWEVER, I do not believe that there is any excuse in the world to defend six students attacking one. Until we are all able to at least try to solve our differences and difficulties with words and understanding instead of with violence and threats the problems will continue to grow. We have to show by example the kind of world we would like to live in and the kind of behavior we expect from our families, our officials, and our communities. Violence doesn't solve anything, and I do think that regardless of race or anything else when violence is used there should be consequences. The consequences should be the same for all and should be a fitting punishment for whatever violent action was taken. I am so sad to see this community how it is and I pray that we can make Jena a better place to live for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for some good reading Elle.
I'm a white female and I DO feel the pain of the black community at this time. The "NOOSE" was all so wrong! It indeeds stands as racism and it should be written into the laws of all states. Some state colleges do have it in effect and I think the President should step in and make it a mandatory law for all states. Here you have 6 kids that had to go do what they thought was right to protect theirselves yet the white boy attends a school function that night. I do not see where they should be charged with attempted murder!! If they had beaten him to death then yes something should have been done but yet people will do things from outburst of anger from not thinking things through. The "NOOSE" that was hung - well in all fairness they should get punished also, and I don't mean a little slap on the hand.

Not all "white" people should be blame for things that the stupid ones does - the same for all races. I'm a lover of all people. I know that we all bleed - cry - laugh, and our pain is all the same. We were made by the same God - we will all go to heaven or hell. I don't think it will be section off in colors.

Know that as a parent I share the pain and tears at this time that these parents and for once I hope justice will be served in the right way.

I was born in the south (NC) and was raised on a tobacco farm. I played daily with the black children, and it just wasn't during the summer time when crops where being harvested. I was taught by my parents to have respect for everyone. We were taught to say yes ma'am and no ma'am to ALL! OR we would get a good whipping. Even today I will say what I was taught. I just can't bring myself to say yes - no - yeah - nah! :)



One Black Man said...

"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."

The Bush House Negroe known as Donald Johnson is blatanly trying to pull a fast one over on the people of Jena. The relevant statues do not required that all tpye of behaviors or acts be committed. Only one has to be committed as in the nose hanging which is intimidation. Perhaps there should be calls for his resignation so he can go join his buddy Gonzo.

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...