Jena, Louisiana Six: A Case Reminiscent of 1960’s Civil Rights Violations

I have only seen a few internet postings about the Jena Six. Here is the back story and my very rough commentary.


It seems rather odd and racist that any “unwritten rule” could exist after the numerous fights and deaths for Civil Rights took place in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The implied threat, the 3 nooses, is a hate crime by any competent authority on legal issues and should have been investigated immediately.

Once again, 3 days of suspension is hardly a punishment to any kid. More like a vacation. Certainly did not meet the standards of justice that a majority of Americans require for such “pranks.” The additional fact that a District Attorney found little at issue and actually threatened the victims (all the black students) is morally incomprehensible. Reed Walters needs not to be in any authority position, unless it is for the racist KKK.
After the school assembly, where the unrest was not addressed properly at all, on September 10, several dozen black students attempted to address the school board concerning the recent events but were refused because the board was of the opinion that “the noose issue” had been adequately resolved.[7] Racial tensions and fights continued through the fall but were held in check by the ongoing football season. The high school team was doing unusually well, in large part due to efforts of several star black players, and students were unwilling to do anything to upset the season.[1]
Commentary: The School Board addressing of the “Noose Issue” belies the problem in America. If this issue happened in urban, upscale area, and it was targeted against whites, you can bet your life, the situation would get plenty of media attention, commentary and reaction from the overseeing authorities. No stone would be left unturned and no kid would be allowed to get a 3-day vacation as a punishment.
The racial tension was never addressed properly and only escalated as the fall went on.
From Wikipedia:
On 30 November 2006, the main building of the high school was set on fire. The building was gutted and had to be later demolished. Blacks and whites accused each other of the arson.[1][8]
On Friday, December 1, there was a private party, attended mostly by whites, at the Fair Barn. Five black youths, including 16-year-old Robert Bailey, attempted to enter the party at about 11pm.
According to U.S. Attorney Washington, they were told by a woman that they were not allowed inside without an invitation. The five youths persisted, stating that some friends were already in attendance at the party. A white man, who was not a student,[3] then jumped in front of the woman and instigated a fight.
After the fight was broken up, the woman told both the white man and five black youths to leave the party. Once outside, the black students were involved in another fight with a group of white men, who also were not students.[3] Police were then called to investigate. Several months later, Justin Sloan, a white male, was charged with simple battery for his role in the fight and was put on probation. Bailey later stated that one of the white men had broken a beer bottle over his head,[4] but there are no records of medical treatment being given.[3]
The following day, an incident apparently stemming from this fight occured at a local convenience store. A student who had attended the party encountered Bailey and several friends. An argument ensued, after which the white student ran to his pickup truck and produced a pistol-grip shotgun.
Bailey ran after the white student and wrestled him for control of the gun. Bailey’s friends intervened in the scuffle and took the gun away. Bailey refused to return it and ultimately took it home with him. Local police reported that the accounts of the white student and black students contradicted each other and formed a report based on testimony taken from eyewitnesses. This resulted in Bailey being charged with three counts: theft of a firearm, second-degree robbery and disturbing the peace. The white student who had produced the weapon was not charged.[1][3]
As this escalation continued, away from the school, now out on the open streets, where were the authorities to realize this was a now a full blown episode of race-related tensions? And more to the point, why were the whites not arrested and charged with countless felonies?
In a Chicago Tribune article by Howard Witt, Joe Cook, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, puts it this way: “There’s been obvious racial discrimination in this case,” and it is a “racial powder keg” primed to ignite. “It appears the black students were singled out and targeted in this case for some unusually harsh treatment.”
The Case that involves the Jena Six from Wikipedia:
The following Monday, December 4, a white student named Justin Barker, aged 17, loudly discussed – “bragged,” as characterized by National Public Radio – how Bailey had been beaten up by a white man that Friday night.
When Barker walked out of the school gymnasium into the courtyard later that day, he was assaulted by Bailey and five other black students, and was temporarily knocked unconscious. The concussion he suffered has been described in the media as resulting either from a punch to the face or from hitting his head on concrete when thrown to the ground. While on the ground, Barker was kicked repeatedly. Barker was examined by a doctor at the local hospital.[2][1]
After two hours of treatment and observation for his concussion and an eye that had swollen shut, Barker was discharged in time to go to the school Ring Ceremony that evening.[4] In the meantime the six black students, eventually dubbed the “Jena Six”, were arrested.
The six students were initially charged with aggravated assault. However, District Attorney Walters increased the charges to attempted second-degree murder, provoking protests from black residents that the charges, which could result in the defendants being imprisoned past age 50, were disproportional to the crime.[4]
On June 26, 2007, the first day of trial for defendant Mychal Bell, Walters suddenly agreed to reduce the charges for Bell to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery.[9] A charge of aggravated battery requires the use of a “deadly weapon”. Walters thus argued that the tennis shoes that Bell was wearing and used to kick Barker were deadly weapons, an argument with which the all-white jury agreed.
Mychal Bell was found guilty and will face the possibility of up to 22 years in prison when he is sentenced on September 20, 2007. Public Defender Blaine Williams is rightly accused of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel. (See Below)
Final Commentary:
The authorities in this ENTIRE case failed to address the issues as big as Texas. The continued problems between people was a result of severe negiglence on the part of school officials, the local District Attorney, the police and everyone that could have stop this before it got to such levels. To any level, by punishing the noose incident appropriately. Expulsions, Criminal Charges and NEW POLICIES that stop this behavior once and for all.
And to top it off, the district attorney’s office had the gaul and audacity to charge six boys with attempted 2nd degree murder. Because it was six black boys and one white boy.
Nevermind the racial targeting and crimes committed by the whites. The actual weapons used by them. The intent to cause severe bodily harm and death. Those things go unchecked.
The human result of this case is that RACISM is alive and well in America. And the leaders of this area of Louisiana must still burn crosses and expect African Americans to cower when they walk down the street.
The legal result is still to be totally decided. Yet I have little doubt, as we have seen, that it will be grossly unfair and targeted against those with bronze skin color.
Sites to get more information on the Jena Six:

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  • Yobachi  On September 11, 2007 at 7:32 am

    Good commentary. Thanks for taking so much time to blog on this issue. I’m going to add you to our Bloggers for Justice list.

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