Jena Six Deserve Justice
Why does everyone want to convince me that justice is blind? Why do people want to make me believe that the lady with the scale never peaks under that blindfold to take a look at who stands before her awaiting her ruling?
Today, a number of bloggers are writing in support of the Jena 6. By now, most should know who they are, but in case you don’t I’ll give a quick review.
On May 18, Howard Witt wrote an article in the Chicago Tribune that exposed the nation to racial unrest in Jena, Louisiana. It all started when black students at the local high school sat under a tree -after asking permission- whose shade had traditionally been reserved for white students.
According to Mr. Witt’s article the following events occurred following this simple protest by the black students last September:
* The next day three nooses were hanging from the tree
* Once three white students were identified as having hung the nooses on the tree, the school superintendent suspended them for only three days. (The principal had suggested expulsion). The superintendent felt the nooses represented a “youthful stunt.”
* Fights broke out at the high school between black and white students.
* Unknown arsonists set fire to the central wing of the school (November)
* A white youth beat up a black student who showed up at an all-white party
* another young white man pulled a shotgun on three black students at a convenience store
* A group of black students at the high school allegedly jumped a white student on his way out of the gym, knocked him unconscious and kicked him after he hit the floor (December)
* LaSalle Parish district attorney, Reed Walters, opted to charge six black students (hence the Jena 6) with attempted second-degree murder and other offenses (for their involvement in the above incident)
And one thing you rarely see in reports of the “attack” on the white student is that he had allegedly been taunting Black students in support of those who hung the nooses prior to getting into the fight. Observations at the Friends of Justice website further explains the two group altercations that took place:
The assault on a black student at the Fair Barn on Friday night and the fight at Jena High School on Monday morning are mirror images. In the first instance, a white twenty-two year-old initiated the fight with a punch to the face of a black seventeen year-old; at the school, a yet unidentified black student initiated the fight with a punch to the face. In both instances, the assailant’s friends joined the fray instantly. The striking difference is that the white youth responsible for the Friday incident have not been charged while those allegedly responsible for the school fight are facing charges that could send them to prison…
What supporters of the Jena Six are looking for, just like supporters of Tyrone Brown, Gernarlow Wilson, or Kenneth Foster, is justice. Justice meaning equal application of the law. The United States has a history off applying unequal justice.
Why do criminals who commit the same crime under the same circumstances get unequal punishment? Why would one perpetrator be labeled as menace while another is considered a youthful prankster? Why does someone apprehended with crack cocaine receive harsher penalities than someone who is in possession of powder cocaine? I can tell you, the system is flawed beyond measure.
Mychael Bell was the first of the accused students to go on trial. Bell had priors, including battery and damage to property, but 2nd degree attempted murder charges in a school fight are extreme. And why are 5 of the Jena 6 being tried as adults? Anyway, Bell was eventually found guilty of by and all-white jury of second-degree aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit second-degree aggravated battery after the initial chargers were reduced. He now awaits sentencing next month where he faces up to 22 years in prison.
For a country who feels like spreading its brand of democracy throughout the world, how could this be allowed to happen. Other Western countries look at the U.S. in these instances (as well as post Hurricane Katrina), and it’s evident how deeply rooted racism is even in the halls of government. Bell awaits jail while the others await their verdicts, and the white kids who gang fought the black student have crawled under a rock somewhere.
Well every American should be ashamed when a young man’s life could be thrown away for a school fight in which no one was seriously injured. But I have a hard time thinking that America would be shamed by the Jena 6 while Genarlow Wilson still sits in jail for having consensual sex at the age of 17 with a 15 year old girl. Well I’m ashamed.
I would urge the good white citizens of Jena to stand up and be proud of yourselves for reclaiming your racist past. I guess it’s not so much reclaiming as it is proudly displaying it for the country and the world.
Then I would urge America to acknowledge that the country is becoming more and more segregated by the day. And admit that as long as black folks keep to themselves and don’t start trouble (like sitting under a tree reserved for whites) we can all get along just fine.
And I make a final plea to the American media. I’d ask that you raise your right hand and admit under oath that you just don’t give a damn about black people. Your non-coverage of missing black women and children, your demonization of hip hop culture, your initial labeling of Katrina survivors as ‘refugees’ and your daily lynching of black athletes called sports talk radio is evidence of this fact.
The Jena Six deserve justice.
This post was written as part of the Afrosphere Jena 6 Coalition Day of Blogging for Justice.
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