Jena 6 defendant in trouble after Dallas area altercation

Howard Witt, forever on the case, let’s us know that one of the Jena 6 defendants has found himself in hot water after an incident at a Dallas area high school. Bryant Purvis, now 19, was arrested Wednesday in Carrollton and charged with misdemeanor assault.

These are young men and they need guidance. Drive-by activism just won’t do.

I don’t have to go into who, what, and why of the Jena 6 on this site, but needless to say this is an unfortunate chapter in the saga. There have been a number of of unfortunate incidents regarding this story since September.

Here are some of the highlights from Mr. Witt’s story.

  • Purvis’ attorney, Darrell Hickman, characterized the assault as a “minor shoving incident” and said it involved a student whom Purvis believed had vandalized his car a few days before. A police affidavit accompanying an arrest warrant alleged that Purvis choked the student and pushed his head into a bench, injuring the victim’s eye.
  • The Texas arrest “doesn’t help his case in Jena, that’s obvious,” Hickman said. “From what [Purvis] told me, I can understand him losing his temper. We all lose our temper every now and then. But we’re in the process of negotiations with Reed Walters.
  • Purvis and another Jena defendant, Carwin Jones, posed like rap stars at the Black Entertainment Television Hip Hop Awards in October, where they presented a music award and received an ovation from the audience. Jena defendant Robert Bailey Jr. posted pictures of himself on a Myspace page with a wad of $100 bills stuffed in his mouth.
  • “It’s sort of a pop culture touchstone of 2007 for a lot of black people,” Marcano said, adding that he hoped that Purvis’ latest arrest would not detract from the larger issues of equal justice raised by the Jena case.

This does not take away from the facts of the Jena case. It does not take away from the questions raised about American Justice and media in the aftermath.

But it does show that there are individual lives at stake here. “The Jena 6” is not a game, or a rap group, or a dance step. These are young men and they need guidance. Drive-by activism just won’t do. Let’s all remember that.

Click here to read Howard Witt’s entire Chicago Tribune article.

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