The Jena 6
By Peter Rothberg
13 September, 2007
been meaning to write about the Jena
6 since I first heard the shocking details of what sounds
like a story from the Jim Crow-era South. But the lives of six black
high school students–accused of beating up a white classmate after
a series of racial incidents at a high school in the small Louisiana
town–are being ruined today in Jena, Louisiana in a case that
simply boggles the mind.
The trouble started when
one black student, after requesting and receiving permission from the
school administration, decided to sit under a shade tree traditionally
used by white students. In response, white students hung three nooses
from the tree. That act — a throwback to the days when blacks
were lynched for exercising their civil rights — was portrayed
by school officials as a “silly prank,” and the white students
got off with a slap on the wrist.
But, while the misconduct
by white students was handled as a joke, a related incident in which
a former student brandished a shotgun at three black students went unpunished
and a subsequent attack against a black student at a private party resulted
in one of the attackers being charged with only a misdemeanor, school
officials and the LaSalle Parish District Attorney have brought out
a hammer against the black students charging them with felonious assault
and second degree attempted murder which could result in decades of
prepared by Collateral
News does a great job in detailing the case, the charges
and the racist application of justice so evident in the proceedings
After watching the report,
click here to
sign a national petition asking the Louisiana governor to intervene
in the case and consider sending a donation to the students’ legal
defense fund by mailing checks to the Jena 6 Defense Fund, PO Box 2798,
Jena, La. 71342 or by giving
Fortunately, this petition
is just one part of a growing campaign on behalf of the six black teenagers
charged with attacking a white student in the small town of Jena. The
NAACP has made the case a top priority and is organizing a September
20 march on Jena, civil rights leaders are planning to
attend protests next week and lawyers nationwide are taking an interest
in the situation.
“The case has captured
the imagination of a lot of people,” Richard Cohen, president
of the Southern
Poverty Law Center, which is helping to coordinate legal
representation for the six boys and is paying for some of their legal
fees, told ABC
News today. “It’s taken on symbolic importance
as a microcosm for so many other things that are wrong with the criminal
Peter Rothberg writes
column for the The Nation.
ActNow aims to put readers in touch with creative ways to register informed
dissent. Whether it’s a grassroots political campaign, a progressive
film festival, an antiwar candidate, a street march, a Congressional
bill needing popular support or a global petition, ActNow will highlight
the outpouring of cultural, political and anti-corporate activism sweeping
the planet. Watch this space for more examples in the coming days.
© 2007 The Nation
In Jena As Nooses
Hang From The "White Tree"
The Jena 6!
By Alice Woodward
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