Michael Crawford

Gays Stand in Support of Jena 6

Filed By Michael Crawford | September 19, 2007 11:55 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Jena 6, race in america, racism

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)


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WHAT! HRC standing up for something rather than their rich, white, gay and lesbian folks. I almost can't believe it. Some one must have shamed those kids. Good for that someone. Up here in CT. we only get the Socialists, Anarchists, progressive Queers to stand up for the Jena 6, not the "I do, I do" Or Don't Ask, Don't tell groups. Hope it filters down to them but please don't get in the way of the liberationist. This has been a long fight and as the old song went, "get out of the way if you can't lend a hand." Because now we will expect more from HRC. And maybe someday I and my friends will once again send them some $.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | September 20, 2007 12:52 AM

HRC does far more on a whole lot of issues than people give them credit far and if some people let go of their self-righteous contempt for HRC, they might be surprised.

Self-righteous contempt, Michael? Really?

Then what is it when an organization like HRC demonstrates it's own self-righteous contempt for the working LGBT middle class by insisting on wasting valuable face time with powerful Democrats by asking question after question about gay marriage which they can do nothing about at the federal level and ignores the issues important to the rest of the community such as employment rights, health care, hate crimes protections, etc.?

What would you call the actions of HRC's Executive Board, who not only refuse to allow real agenda and decision-making power to rest with the working class LGBT majority rather than almost exclusively with a tiny self-involved ultra-wealthy white minority but, according to Donna Rose, are now considering raising the yearly financial obligation for a seat on the Board even beyond the current $50,000 requirement?

You know, Michael, since I've been a commenter and contributor here, I've tried to make it a point to be as fair and even-handed as I can be in responding to you because of our public conflict in '04. In this case, however, when you try to label the words of those who speak out against HRC as "self-righteous contempt", the kid gloves come off.

HRC and its oh-so-exclusive, elitist, and conservative leadership and agenda are exactly what our community should be moving beyond toward a better future. At every turn, HRC has proven itself unwilling to honor its promises, unable to serve in a leadership role in this community's advocacy efforts credibly and equitably, and has completely and utterly failed us as a spokesman.

It is the HRC's Executive Board's "self-righteous contempt" for the majority of our community which has now successfully and correctly cast HRC as exactly what they are. We barely need to say a word when anyone who watched that farcical forum could see for themselves exactly who and what HRC really cares about.

I mean, Goddess, Michael, you weren't even slick about it. HRC just asked for questions, collected over 3,000 of them, promised at least one trans question per candidate, and then, once the cameras were rolling, simply threw all those questions and promises right in the dumper in favor of more wasted time spent asking politicians about an issue they can't do anything about. It's even more blatantly anti-trans and anti-working class than you were in '04, and that's saying something.

In my opinion, HRC has once again demonstrated themselves as unworthy of a leadership role in this community advocacy efforts, unwilling to properly serve the interests of anyone other than a tiny wealthy elite, and undeserving of our donations, our participation, or our respect.

Before you go throwing around terms like "self-righteous contempt", Michael, I suggest you look to your own organization's leadership as an example of what you seem to be claiming to revile.

I saw a mention of this incident on CNN recently. I am pleased that this atrocious turn of events in Jena is finally getting the attention it deserves.