The case of the Jena 6 proves that the stench of racism is alive and well in the good old U.S.A.
Last fall the day after two Black students sat under the "white" tree at a high school in Jena, Louisiana, three nooses were hung from the tree as a threat of what could happen if the breach of racial code were to occur again. An investigation by the school's principal found that three white students were responsible for hanging the nooses. The principal recommended that the white students be expelled from school. The local board of education with the support of the schools superintendent overturned the principal's recommendation and instead gave the white students three days of in school suspension. From there flowed a series of events that show just how deeply racism continues to infect the American soul.
Black students protested the light sentence given to the white students and were promptly threatened by the county's district attorney who said "See this pen? I can end your lives with the stroke of a pen."
Black students attempted to speak before the school about the rising level of racial tension at the school, but were dismissed.
The main building of the high school set on fire. Black and white students each accused the other of starting the fire.
A fight between Blacks and whites breaks out at a party.
The day after the fight an altercation between a Black students and a white student in which the white student called the Black students "niggers" led to the white student pulling a gun on the Black students. The Black students were able to disarm the white student, but refused to return the gun to the white student. The local police charged one of the Black students with theft of a firearm, second-degree robbery and disturbing the peace. The white student who produced the gun was not charged with anything.
Six Black students were eventually charged with assault and face trial. Mychal Bell, the first student to be tried, was convicted of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery. While his conviction was overturned, people from across the country will rally in Jena tomorrow to protest the whole mess. The details of the rally can be found here.
D.C. residents including members and staff of the Human Rights Campaign will also be gathering tomorrow in solidarity with the Jena 6:
What: Washington, DC Rally to Support the Jena 6
When: September 20th, 2007 8:00am - 2:00 pm
Where: Upper Senate Park, U.S. Capitol (on the Constitution Ave side – closest to Union Station on the Red Line)