Sunday, September 23, 2007

JustUs?: The Jena 6

Peace and blessings,

I wanted to provide a brief outline of the events surrounding the case of the Jena 6, a case that is gaining much attention throughout the country, and duly so. I encourage everyone to seek out more info regarding the situation, and participate in any and every way that you can. The information below can be found at
  • Color of Change
  • and
  • Truthout.

  • As you read the outline, I urge you to keep the following scriptures in mind, as this case represents another instance of how we often distort and manipulate God's conception of "justice."

    "The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed."

    Psalms 103: 6

    "It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their
    affairs with justice."

    Psalms 112: 5

    "I know that the Lord maintains the cause of the needy, and executes justice for the poor."

    Psalms 140: 12

    1) after black students sat under the "white tree," nooses were hung from
    the tree. In reaction, black students sat under the tree in protest,
    prompting the superintendent and District Attorney to get involved. The
    superintendent dismissed the nooses as a "prank," while the DA,
    accompanied with Jena police, told the black students protesting that "I
    can be your best friend or your worst enemy...I can take away your lives
    with a stroke of the pen."

    2) Racial tension escalated over the next couple of months, with the main
    academic building of Jena high school getting burned down on Nov. 30th,
    2006 in an unsolved fire. Later that same weekend, a black student was
    beaten up by white students at a party. The next day, black students were
    threatened by a young white man with a shotgon at a convenient store. They
    restled the gun from him and ran away. No charges were filed against the
    white man, but the students were arrested for gun-theft.

    3) That Monday, a white student taunted the black student who as beaten up
    at the party, and allegedly called several black students "nigger." After
    lunch, he was knocked down, punched, and kicked by black students. He was
    taken to the hosptial, released, and was well enough to attend a social
    event that same evening. Six black Jena high students were arrested and
    charged with second-degree attempted murder. Bail was set so high (between
    70,000-138,000) that the students were in jail for months as families went
    into debt to release them.

    4) The local district attorney Reed Walters, who initially charged the six
    with attempted murder, later reduced the charges to aggravated assault,
    contending that Bell's tennis shoes constituted a dangerous weapon.The
    first trial ended in June 2007, and Mychal Bell (16) was convicted of
    aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated (both felonies)
    battery by an all-white jury. In addition, Mychal's public defender did
    not call a single witness to testify during th trial. During the trial,
    Mychal's parents were ordered not to speak to the media and the court
    prohibited protests from taking place near the courtroom or where the
    judge could see them.

    5) Louisiana's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, acting on an emergency
    defense appeal, reversed the aggravated second-degree conviction of Mychal
    Bell, ruling that the youth had been tried improperly as an adult in a
    case. Last week, the judge who presided over Bell's trial in June, LaSalle
    Parish District Judge J.P. Mauffray, vacated a conspiracy conviction
    against the youth for the same reason, but inexplicably let the more
    serious battery conviction stand. Now Walters must decide whether to
    refile the entire case in juvenile court.

    6) Walters said in a statement Friday, September 14th 2007 that he
    intended to appeal the reversal of Bell's conviction to the Louisiana
    Supreme Court

    More on the conviction reversal can be found in an article by the
  • Chicago Tribune.

  • Rather you are aware of the situation or are just hearing about it for the first time. I'm interested in people's thoughts on the issue. What are your reactions? Who do you think plays a more significant role in how the events that have taekn place (Superintendent, local district attorney, the school for not addressing the tree issue sooner, etc...)? Do you see any difference between how justice is used in the Jena 6 case, and God's sense of justice as illustrated in the scriptures? From what i've heard about the case so far, the thing that gets me is how no attention (prior to these events taking place and while they were taking place) has been given to the tree-issue. The fact that there existed (for so long) a tree at Jena high school with this much racist, divisive power in itself speaks volumes as to the value the high school places on their students' worth, because racism and divisiveness is detrimental to all who are involved.

    I am asking anyone who comes across more updates regarding this issue can sent it to me at, so that I can frequently update the blog regarding this matter. Also, make sure you check out the third video of fox news, and pay attention to the last minute of the clip, where Hannity "dodges" Rev. Sharpton's question about whether or not he supports the Jena 6. They have been talking for over six minutes, but as soon as Re. Sharpton asks this question, all of a sudden Hannity can't hear him. Even his partner on the show heard him clearly. Racism, like any sin, cannot stay "hidden." Eventually it's going to come out and get exposed. I'm not saying i'm perfect or anything, but Hannity's "true feelings" regarding U.S. race relations is extremely evident in this clip. Jesus help us... Please share your thoughts, continue to pray that God heals this situation, and as always, speekonit...


    Incognito said...

    Absolutely right.. the fact that the "whites" tree even existed, to begin with, speaks volumes. It just proves how important it is to strike at the roots of racism and if you can't do that in the homes, you have to do that in the schools. I think they should start instituting race relations courses in the school curriculum.. not just for blacks and whites, but for all races. Shoudln't have to, but it's obvious it's necessary.

    But it takes both side to see past "color".. the blacks have to be just as willing to integrate as do the whites etc.

    Incognito said...

    P.S. I'm not sure you can judge Hannity's stance on race relations from his lack of response to Sharpton.. unfortunately, forgive me for saying this, but people like Sharpton and Jackson can be major turn-offs. Not because of what they have to say, but because of how they say it.

    Anonymous said...

    This report came out 1 hour ago

    _The so-called "white tree" at Jena High, often reported to be the domain of only white students, was nothing of the sort, according to teachers and school administrators; students of all races, they say, congregated under it at one time or another.

    _Two nooses - not three - were found dangling from the tree. Beyond being offensive to blacks, the nooses were cut down because black and white students "were playing with them, pulling on them, jump-swinging from them, and putting their heads through them," according to a black teacher who witnessed the scene.

    _There was no connection between the September noose incident and December attack, according to Donald Washington, an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department in western Louisiana, who investigated claims that these events might be race-related hate crimes.

    _The three youths accused of hanging the nooses were not suspended for just three days - they were isolated at an alternative school for about a month, and then given an in-school suspension for two weeks.

    _The six-member jury that convicted Bell was, indeed, all white. However, only one in 10 people in LaSalle Parish is African American, and though black residents were selected randomly by computer and summoned for jury selection, none showed up

    Unknown said...

    Thanks for the comments and for checking out the blog.

    Incognito: I agree about some kind of curricular intervention in schools. However, as an educator myself, I realize how swamped many teachers already are with trying to serve the maximum amount of students with minimal resources. I think that maybe these race-relations type programs should be government funded and ran by community members. Regarding Sharpton and Jackson, I've heard a lot of criticism about both of them. I'm not saying that I support everything they do and how (or why) they do it, but I do respect the fact that they are doing something. With that said, I do think that African Americans need some new faces, ideas, and strategies in leadership.

    From LA: Thanks for the article link. I clicked on it to read up on the points you made, but it said the page or article was not found. Anyhow, thanks for the info, and for clearing up any misinformation I may have had.