Mychal Bell, Jena 6 defendent, charged with shoplifting, resisting arrest in Monroe Louisiana

I received a text message out of Louisiana today late this afternoon:

Mychal Bell arrested for shoplifting and assault for hitting a security guard with his elbow trying to get away.

A quick check of the net proved my source was right on it.  According to the News-Star out of Monroe, Louisiana, Bell is free on bond after being arrested on Christmas Eve.  He’s charged with shoplifting, resisting arrest and simple battery, related to an incident at Dillard’s in Pecanland Mall in Monroe.  This comes less than less than a month after he completed a sentence for his role in a fight with classmate, Justin Barker, at Jena High School in 2006.

Here’s more from the Star-News article:

  • Police said Bell and an unidentified male were spotted Wednesday by store security after they placed $370 worth of merchandise in a Dillard’s shopping bag. After the two separated, Bell left the store, was followed by a security officer, and began running through the parking lot.
  • Bell was booked into Richwood Correctional Center and released on $1,300 bond. He will be arraigned at a later date. Each of the charges carries a possible penalty of up to six months in jail.
  • Louis Scott who has represented Bell in the past said that preconceived notions on the part of Dillard’s employees may have played a role in Bell’s arrest.  “Dillard’s has a tradition of being overly suspicious of young black males,” Scott said.

    Scott said that personal and court experiences have led him to that conclusion. “He should at least have the presumption of innocence,” he said.

It’s hard to presume innocence when a brother is running through the parking lot.    Back in February, Bryant R. Purvis, 19, -another Jena defendent- was arrested on a charge of assault causing bodily injury after an altercation at Hebron High School outside of Dallas.

This continues a sad story that has followed one of the biggest civil rights actions in recent memory.  Money squabbles and run ins with the law give more ammunition to those who questioned the protests -and the vigorous defense of the Jena 6- in the first place.  It’s another example of how our follow through on civil rights issues is sorely lacking.

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