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lord patch
09-14-2007, 02:21 PM
jena 6: No Outsiders in Jena
Category: News and Politics

No Outsiders in Jena
By Etan Thomas and Dave Zirin


"Outsiders need to stay away." That's what Billy Fowler of the school board
in Jena, Louisiana, said about those who have raised concerns about the
sentencing imposed on six African American boys -- ages 15-17 -- facing 100
years in prison.

Outsiders are always what people in the South have called those who
challenge racism. But the story of Jena is not an outsider/insider story.
It's a story about the worst tradition of what is known as Southern
Justice. And like in the days of Jim Crow, it's a story where any shades of
grey matter far less than black and white.

The issue by now has become well known: discussed on CNN and in the pages
of USA Today. At Jena High School, a black student received permission from
school authorities to sit underneath what was known as "the white tree"
(remarkable that he felt he had to ask!) The next day, in retribution,
three nooses hung from the branches, threats that they would soon be
harvesting "strange fruit."
In protest black students collectively decided to sit under the tree. This
a bold and beautiful act in the spirit of the best traditions of the '60s.
They refused to comply with racist terror, even when those threats are as
drastic as being lynched for simply not staying in your place.

And just like in the old South, the state made clear which side it was on.
The town DA, Reid Walters, actually had the audacity to threaten only the
black students, telling them that he had the power to ruin their lives with
the stroke of his pen if they continued to make trouble.

Tensions escalated over the course of the semester. Two black students were
beaten by a white student while another group of black students were
threatened with a shotgun by a former classmate. Surprisingly, none of the
white students or former students were punished in any way for these
incidents.

But the following Monday when a white student was beaten up by six black
classmates, they were immediately arrested and charged with attempted
murder and conspiracy to commit murder, charges that would put them in jail
for 100 years without parole. The Jena 6 ranges in age from 15-17. The
white student spent three hours in a hospital emergency room and required
no further medical care.
Mychall Bell was the first student tried. He was represented by a public
defender that called no witness, and was quickly convicted by an all-white
jury, white judge, and now faces up to 22 years in prison.

Recently, in response to a public outcry about the case, prosecutors have
announced that charges against Shaw and Jones had been reduced to lesser
felonies. But the need to be heard on this continues. Two other students,
Robert Bailey Jr. and Bryant Purvis, still await trial for attempted
murder. Bell's conviction has been allowed to stand even though the judge
ruled he had been improperly convicted in an adult court when he should
have been tried as a juvenile. Shaw and Jones still face years in prison.

As Billy Hunter, the head of the National Basketball Player's association,
said:_
"The situation in Jena, Louisiana is abominable and rotten to the core. The
actions of the District Attorney demonstrate that "racism and bigotry are
live and well in Jena ." As a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern
District of California and Assistant Chief in the S.F. District Attorney's
Office, it is my opinion that the District Attorney's has severely
overcharged the case revealing his bias against the six black Jena youth.
His actions should serve as a wake-up call for all Americans who believe in
an impartial and fair criminal justice system."

This is a case that should outrage any individual regardless of the color
of their skin. When the justice system can be a direct symbol of racism,
injustice and terror, the very moral fiber of our society is threatened.
This is not a time for neutrality. Insiders and so-called outsiders will be
marching in Jena on September 20th. We will also be circulating a statement
in the world of sports for those who choose to support the efforts to have
the charges against the Jena 6 dismissed. The simple truth is that when it
comes to issues of basic justice, there are no such thing as "outsiders."

[Etan Thomas is the center for the National Basketball Association's
Washington Wizards. He is the author of the book of poems, More than an
Athlete and a member of the NBAPA executive board. Dave Zirin is a
columnist for SLAM magazine and the author of Welcome to the Terrordome
(Haymarket Books)]

IrOnMaN
09-14-2007, 02:35 PM
Jesus Christ! It's 2007 and American is still....... I'm speechless! They knew that the white student beat the black students because they were protesting. Then the black students beat the white student because, you know. I can't even ge my words out correctly.|(

It's like when a black man gets caught selling drugs by the police. They arrest him and gets like 10 years in prison. A white man is caught and tried doing the same crime, but receives a lesser setence. Hell, he might not even get time at all. That's what this is, people. It's white v/s black.

blackwisdom
09-14-2007, 05:58 PM
Mychal Bell will go home Monday morning. They dropped the adult changes and will be trying him as a juvenile. I come from a small town and I understand the dynamics of these things. It's just the way it is. Sometimes outsiders need to come in with a fresh outlook in order to make things better. Unfortunately it is a white/black thing. Some people just can't get around that. We're going to have to continue challenging this racist ideology until we can stomp it out. It's no surprise. I'm just ready for consciousness/organization/activism to reach a certain saturation rate to where people will become too scared to act on their racist ideologies. Then eventually they will be so diluted that they can't rise again. It will always be here but we can stomp it down and under the rug to the point that it doesn't want to show it's ugly face anymore.