God's Politics

God's Politics


Jena is America (by Lydia Bean)

posted by God's Politics

Today, Sept. 20, over 10,000 people will converge on Jena, Louisiana, to call for justice for the “Jena 6.” Thousands more will hold vigils in cities across America. As reported previously on this blog, it all started on Sept. 1, 2006, when a black student at the high school asked an administrator if he could sit underneath a tree in the courtyard where traditionally only white students sat. The administrator told him that he could sit wherever he wanted. The next morning, there were three nooses hanging in that tree. The school dismissed this hate crime as a prank. When black students protested, the local district attorney threatened that he could take their life away with a “stroke of my pen.” Then, white students provoked a series of incidents with black students.


In one altercation, a white graduate of the high school threatened three black students with a shotgun. The black youth wrestled the gun out of his hands, but incredibly were charged with theft of the weapon, ignoring the fact that they were defending themselves! Then, a group of white youth attacked a single black youth at a party — and the police took no serious action. Finally, a black youth named Mychall Bell struck a white youth who had taunted him with racial slurs, and several of his friends joined the fray. The white youth went to the hospital, but was released that day and went to a party that night. The six black students were charged with attempted murder. After a national outcry, the charges were reduced to conspiracy and battery. This month, a Louisiana court of appeals vacated the charges against Bell, ruling that the prosecutor was wrong to charge him as an adult instead of a juvenile — but he is still sitting in jail instead of moving forward with his education.


When I was in college, I was part of a faith-based movement called Friends of Justice. We emerged as an interracial alliance after a drug sting that arrested 60 percent of my town’s young black men all in one fell swoop. Friends of Justice came together across racial lines to say this wasn’t right, and we started praying, singing, and reading the Bible together. Now, Friends of Justice organizes across Texas and Louisiana to fight cases of civil rights violations and prosecutorial misconduct. In January, we got a call from a desperate mother in Jena, Louisiana, and so we sent out our executive director, Alan Bean, to do an investigation. After we generated international media attention, the cause of the Jena 6 attracted support from a host of civil rights organizations and celebrities.

America is shocked by the naked bigotry they see in Jena, Louisiana. Why aren’t Jena’s white residents equally protective of all their town’s children? By only intervening to protect whites, Jena’s white establishment bears the responsibility for letting conflict escalate between black and white youth.

It would be tempting to dismiss the Jena story as representing the vestiges of bigotry in small-town Louisiana — but Jena is America.


Judging from some of the comments I hear from white Americans, many are stuck in an “us vs. them” mentality, where justice becomes a zero-sum-game: “there they go again, breaking the law and then playing the race card to escape responsibility!” Since we don’t think of black youth as “our” youth, we resent it when someone stands up for their rights as citizens. It grieves me to say this, but too many white Americans see black youth only as potential threats that must be contained by all available means. Many protest that the problem lies only within “troublemaking black youth” — rather than our broken criminal justice system.


There is no quick fix for America’s distorted moral imagination. We can only move forward as a nation when our hearts and minds are transformed by the gospel. Lord, gives us eyes to see and ears to hear.



Lydia Bean is a founding member of Friends of Justice and a doctoral candidate in sociology at Harvard University. To get involved, you can visit the Friends of Justice blog, make a donation, and sign up for Action Updates. Hear a song about Jena, “Sitting on the Wall,” performed by Alan and Lydia Bean at the Pentecost 2007 conference. (Refresh your browser if the song doesn’t load correctly.)



Advertisement
Comments read comments(113)
post a comment
Payshun

posted September 20, 2007 at 12:44 pm


I want that t shirt. As a black man this is raising some rather deep issues for me. I also don’t know exactly what to say. But I agree w/ your blog completely. I find that the majority of white people I talk to are quite sympathetic if disempowered so… But all the black people I talked to are up in arms about this and want some heads to roll. I feel this too. I am really tired of being nice.
I really tired of people still sleeping. I am tired of playing the alarm button. I don’t know what to do completely except support what’s going on over there and call Jesse Jackson on his stupid comments about Barrack. But that’s a separate and dumb issue. Sorry for bringing it up.
But there are so many layers to this case, the story and everything else. I don’t know where to start exactly.
p



report abuse
 

scgirl

posted September 20, 2007 at 12:57 pm


Just because you feel wronged .. you cant not take the law in to your own hands .. This is a case of bullying . If the races were reversed … Would the White boys have your support ? as A minotity woman . I am see this is another case of not moving forward . We should not still be looking at color and dividing America .



report abuse
 

Jeff

posted September 20, 2007 at 1:03 pm


I have only read one article on this, but it seems like there is some injustice here. I grudgingly have to agree with Jesse Jackson in part. Someone on the national stage should have made this an issue sooner. It may be a tad racist to take only Barak to task. Many people will pick sides on this issue based on Jesse Jackson (“if Jesse’s for it, I’m against it).
If this is truly an injustice it should not be Dems or blacks stepping up, but all Americans. As a white very conservative American, count me in.
Jeff



report abuse
 

neuro_nurse

posted September 20, 2007 at 1:09 pm


“We should not still be looking at color and dividing America.”
Welcome to Louisiana!
“If the races were reversed …”
Not in this state or, as far as I can tell, anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Racism is alive and well in this country, in the words of Justin Wilson, “I guarantee!”
Jena is a 4 hour drive from New Orleans, and I have a class I can’t skip this afternoon, otherwise I’d go.
Seek peace and pursue it.



report abuse
 

Jeff

posted September 20, 2007 at 1:15 pm


Scgirl,
The troubling thing for me is that the school and the local police treated the two groups differently. The authorities lost control when they let the white boys off with barely a hand slap. When the authorities don’t protect you, what choices do you have? When the ropes were hang in the tree, that should have been the point that severe punishment took place. The white boys continued to push the boundaries of what they could get away with. The police didn’t draw the line, the black young men did. Someone was going to get seriously hurt, they made sure it was them.
Jeff



report abuse
 

Stephanie

posted September 20, 2007 at 1:16 pm


I am from the Jena area and I can say the racisim is a very powerful force there. Sadly, none of this story surprises me. (sigh)



report abuse
 

Eric

posted September 20, 2007 at 2:47 pm


It’s pretty sad that things like this still go on today. Where were the school and city officials when the first signs of this problem erupted? If they had done something then their town wouldn’t be all over CNN this morning.



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:05 pm


scgirl,
I am not going to attack a white guy walking down my neighborhood streets. It’s just not going to happen. All I am doing is talking about how I feel which is better than acting out of vengeance.
p



report abuse
 

GOHERD93

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:07 pm


SC girl isnt far off of her thinking .. The black community seems to alwasy stick up for their race .. right or wrong if it is against Whites. For instance, The Duke Lacross players. Jesse has not apologized to them as of yet .



report abuse
 

Harold C

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:30 pm


I live in Louisiana,and it amazes me that a so-called Christian leaves the main portio of ‘truth’ out of this story. The ‘Jena six’ are 6 people of color who held a white boy down,kicked his ribs,ruined both his ears (permanently) ND BEAT HIM WITH SHOES. wHY WAS THIS LEFT OUT OF YOUR SO-CALLED STORY? sINCE THESE BRAVE SIX AGAINST ONE ALMOST COMMITED DEADLY ASSAULT,THEY were charged as adults. A black radio station in Baton Rouge has been trying their best to ignite a national riot against ‘police,nat. guard and others’. Then one nat. media source appeared angry because the only restuarant in Jena would not be open for the ‘celebration’-they failed to report that the black radio station told its listeners ‘not to spend one penny in Jena’. I don’t believe the fools have yet realized that it is a federal crime to encourage a riot across state lines.



report abuse
 

Daniel

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:32 pm


I will start this off by stating that I am white, and I am prejudice. I can’t stand lazy people who starve society and prefer to stand on the street looking for handouts instead of getting a job. That prejudice has no race, gender, or age.
I think what the boys did was wrong and stupid. However, it was not illegal. The ACLU would argue that is was free speech.
I am tired of Jesse Jackson, Rev Al Sharpton, NAACP, etc of playing the race card. The black boys committed assault, which was illegal the last time I checked, and should be punished. Not because they are black, but because they were wrong.
I do believe there is still a lot of racism in this country. However, I fell more, not all, of it is with blacks.
We do not have white history month, white entertainment television, National Association of White People.
I long for the day when we only celebrate July 4th. Not June Teenth, Cinco De Mayo. Just July 4th. Then, we won’t be white, black, ore hispanic. We will be American.



report abuse
 

Gordon

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:34 pm


I found this case appalling. There does indeed seem to be some prejudice at work here. Whether it’s evidence of a larger problem nationally is arguable.



report abuse
 

Annie (UK)

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:37 pm


I’ve just seen the News reports on today’s events in Jena on British TV. What concerns me is that 99% of the people present were Afro-American. Where were the white evangelical leaders who are usually so vocal on social issues like abortion and gay rights? Did no white Christians feel that they should attend and offer support. It seems that hundreds of poor black and white American youths can die together in Iraq to serve the interests of their government but are certainly not treated equally back in the “democratic” Homeland.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:37 pm


I am generally sympathetic to the cause of the Jena 6, but turning this into polemic seems neither helpful nor useful. The Jena Times offers a chronological account of the events (offered largely without commentary) at this address. Just scroll down to view it.
http://www.thejenatimes.net/home_page_graphics/home.html
With regard to the weapon theft incident, a white male reported that he had been robbed and beaten. The account conflicted with those who were arrested, but eyewitness accounts to gel with those of the alleged victim.
The biggest problems that I see are thus:
1) Putting nooses on trees is like bringing a gun to school. Nooses are murder weapons. The students responsible should have been expelled. That said, criminal charges would have been very difficult to bring to prosecution, and only an overzealous DA would prosecute such a case.
2) The media did everything in its power to sensationalize the story.
3) The prosecution decided to become overzealous once black participants were involved in a crime. The beating was a clear case of battery (knocking someone unconscious is battery), but not attempted murder.
I don’t see where all the protests (with SWAT teams and Black Panthers and etc…) are going to make this situation better. I wish the black community had better spokespeople that Sharpton and Jackson, whose preening participation will only fuel the contention that this is simply an example of playing the race card.



report abuse
 

Louisiana born

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:41 pm


Yes, there is reverse raceism in Louisiana. It was is poor taste for white students to display hanging ropes but It is criminal for six students to beat up a lone student… I have personal first hand knowledge of a white couple being beat up on Martin Luther King day in the French Quarter of New Orleans by a gang of black youths. The police refused to make a report unless the couple came to the police station…. During hurricane Katrina groups of black youths roamed through the few streets which remained unflooded and looted and beat up whites. Crime and violence is wrong regardless of the color. Until we prosecute the crime and not the color there will be more racial strife….



report abuse
 

Mark P (the Yank)

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:44 pm


I don’t know the whole story and won’t comment too deeply or make too many assumptions. And, no offense to this blog, but I take what I read here with a substantial grain of salt.
What I do know:
1. The nooses are horrifying. Regardless of the motivation, such a gesture is comparable to spray-painting a swastika on a synagogue. Utterly reprehensible and shocking.
2. Mychall Bell assaulted another kid violently. Given the background, the action seems particularly understandable (and the charge of attempted murder absurdly silly), but it still merits punishment (though I don’t believe jail or prison time is AT ALL the answer) unless you want to encourage a subjective standard whereby instigating physical violence is acceptable under certain conditions.
3. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton cloud issues and are a stumbling block to clear and non-partisan views of the case. Now, I have no beef with Sharpton on his handling of this issue. He was entirely right when he said that “we didn’t bring race in it, those that hung the nooses brought the race into it.” Absolutely right.
Nonetheless, past action in which both have knee-jerk reactions to anything involving whites and blacks (playing the race card in unrelated circumstances and drawing racial lines regardless of context) has created an incredible stench around their names.
It takes a conscious and deliberate effort on my behalf NOT to immediately write off anything the two men support or claim. I suspect I am not alone, and I know that had I heard of Sharpton and Jackson getting riled about a race issue and not investigated further, I would have rolled my eyes, assuming this was another attempt to create false racial tension.
So. The Jena 6 cause would be better off without these men; as soon as they enter the picture, “race relations” become far more tense. It is unfair, but people will make assumptions whenever Jackson or Sharpton claim race bias.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:49 pm


We do not have white history month, white entertainment television, National Association of White People.
For the longest time American history was “white history.” Everything was “white entertainment television.” And in fact there indeed once was an NAAWP, headed by the beloved David Duke — who actually ran for governor of (cough) Louisiana sometime in the 1990s.
I long for the day when we only celebrate July 4th. Not June Teenth, Cinco De Mayo. Just July 4th. Then, we won’t be white, black, ore hispanic. We will be American.
Then start treating people as though they are Americans — that is, “with liberty and justice for all.” Your ancestors too were unjustly-treated “hyphenated-Americans” at one point, and you best not forget that.



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:53 pm


Lousiana born:
“poor taste”
THAT is a DISGUSTING understatement. It’s poor taste wear brown shoes and a black belt, get to a meeting five minutes late, or belch in mixed company.
Hanging a noose on a tree is an intimidation tactic that summons images of terror, racial violence, and murder. It is an essentially and overtly threatening gesture, hardly different than a verbal “If you… I’ll kill you.”

Some comments above (namely, the extent of the attack’s violence, and the conflicting stories about the shotgun matter) support my decision to read with a certain reservation.
Ms Bean, I don’t appreciate your obvious glossing over or ignoring certain aspects of the story in order to incite the passions of your readers.



report abuse
 

Mark P (the Yank)

posted September 20, 2007 at 3:56 pm


Lousiana born:
“poor taste”
THAT is a DISGUSTING understatement. It’s poor taste wear brown shoes and a black belt, get to a meeting five minutes late, or belch in mixed company.
Hanging a noose on a tree is an intimidation tactic that summons images of terror, racial violence, and murder. It is an essentially and overtly threatening gesture, hardly different than a verbal “If you… I’ll kill you.”

Some comments above (namely, the extent of the attack’s violence, and the conflicting stories about the shotgun matter) support my decision to read with a certain reservation.
Ms Bean, I don’t appreciate your obvious glossing over or ignoring certain aspects of the story in order to incite the passions of your readers.

“We do not have white history month, white entertainment television, National Association of White People.”
I used to think like that. Then I realized the legitimacy of Rick’s perspective. There’s no reason for watching the evolution of the history or evolution of “white America.” It is certainly worth taking the time to appreciate overlooked achievements and matters of import in the development of America’s minority populations…
(though I do still think Black History Month is a bit overdone, and most celebrations involve a lot of glossing over and revising histories to fit political motives)



report abuse
 

marialynn

posted September 20, 2007 at 4:00 pm


This makes me sad. When I start to think the country has made strides towards equality something always happens- James Byrd’s brutal murder, the response to Katrina, and now this. I think about leaders like Bobby Kennedy and his speech that he gave the night MLK was killed. I think about Congressman John Lewis and the leadership of SNCC. I wish we had leaders like this today (Lewis is still in Congress but doesn’t seem to be as much as a “spokesman”).
I feel like this case is just one of the most visable but similiar things go on every day. I wish I had answers, I wish I knew how to be part of the solution. I just keep seeing it as 1 step forward, 5 steps back. This makes me sad.
Maria



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 20, 2007 at 4:01 pm


“Yes, there is reverse raceism in Louisiana. It was is poor taste for white students to display hanging ropes but It is criminal for six students to beat up a lone student…”
The two events are apples and oranges, but equally severe in degree. Displaying hanging ropes on a tree in response to a black student asking if he may sit at a tree goes beyond poor taste. There is an implied threat. Such a threat may be difficult to prosecute, which is why the FBI left it to the school, but those kids should have been expelled. I don’t even see how this is debatable.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 20, 2007 at 4:05 pm


The Jena 6 cause would be better off without these men; as soon as they enter the picture, “race relations” become far more tense. It is unfair, but people will make assumptions whenever Jackson or Sharpton claim race bias.
The reality is that no one else in the African-American community has their pull and the kind of trust thereof that they won’t be frightened or bought off by people who want things swept under the rug. Call them hucksters or charlatans if you will, and truth be told I’m not fans of them either, but they do maintain a certain amount of independence from the power structure that ensures that they won’t be intimdated or dissuaded from the task at hand. That’s at least part of the reason why conservative America resents them so deeply. Contrary to what you wrote, race relations did not become “more tense” upon their arrival; they simply expose the tension that already existed. (After all, the same charge was consistently made about MLK Jr.)
I remember reading a recent story in Time magazine about JFK agonizing what to do about Southern intransigence concerning racial desegregation, possibly in part because he didn’t want to offend that base. He concluded, however, that the South would never clean up its act on its own and he had to use Federal authority to change things, and it’s one reason why the white South is Republican today.



report abuse
 

Lisa- Philadelphia

posted September 20, 2007 at 4:33 pm


I agree totally. I just responded to a man from the UK, his question was, almost exact to what you posted. “What’s the big fuss”. I found myself getting real upset about that, but there will always be someone who can only understand the struggles they go through on a personal level. It never mattered to me what race someone was when I found myself feeling someone’s pain, aggrevation, or concerns. People who believe that blacks are just rallying for attention, or to avoid being penalized, are the same people who have a hand in destroying this nation, and the rest of the earth. We as a people, took the balance out of nature, and without balance, the doors are open for Chaos. Things have to change, but the sad part about it, the people who want to make things better, will most likely not be around if it ever happen. People who are racist lives their lives trying to bring down others, but they forget that one day they will have to answer to a higher power, then they will see exactly how wrong their time has been spent on earth.



report abuse
 

GOHERD93

posted September 20, 2007 at 4:36 pm


a little focus on ..Jackson / Sharpton …I believe Owe the Duke Players Public Apology . They assumed they were guilty with out any evidence ..( but one word against another )..They Lady who who cried rape( A super SERIOUS allegation) had nothing to back up her case- NOTHING !! but Jackson & Sharpton took her side immediately .. If you ask me .. They are wanting to keep the races divided ..



report abuse
 

TRACEY

posted September 20, 2007 at 4:44 pm


What happened to prosecuting individuals who commit hate crimes. (ropes hanging from trees symbolize hatred that stems very deeply into this Countries most shameful acts committed upon a race of people) I would make a wager that if swastika symbols had been spray painted onto the white tree not only would there had been major coverage by the mass media but the individuals responsible would have been expelled, arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Moreover, it would have been acceptable to see Derkowich, Goldberg and any other Jewish organization freely speaking out and put together a movement to assure that those responsible for such acts be prosecuted. So I do not understand how people on this blog can write that its alright to commit a crime that opens the wounds of deep hatred that still plagues our society, and continues to keep us from uniting as “one people” Americans. I am an African American female who is disgusted by the continued injustices my people continue to endure on a daily bases, especially our Black men. I do not condone the fights that took place between the students, however, where is the equal justice.



report abuse
 

GOHERD

posted September 20, 2007 at 5:08 pm


OK .. why are were using the terms .. Afriacan American ..Why cant we be Americans (Period) When I go to England .. I dont hear the term -African British .. I dont go around calling my self German-American .. Lets just be AMERICANS !



report abuse
 

Evelyn

posted September 20, 2007 at 5:11 pm


Prayer is the answer to all things, if we pray according to His will then He hears us. American and the American people should realize that it’s going to take prayer. It is a must that we be not of this world system but, be about the Kingdom of God. When I read about the problems I immediately went in prayer for the boys, their families and for the other families that God may touch lives and bring justice and peace in the town of Jena. I am praying for you JENA 6.



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted September 20, 2007 at 5:19 pm


ok Duke has nothing and I do mean nothing to do w/ this. So please Goherd93 let it go. If you want an apology from Sharpton or whoever go ask them for it. But please stop writing about that case.
Tracey,
As one of those black men I feel the same way for the beautiful and amazing black women in this country.
This is not a simple case but the way the authorities handled it was wrong. That’s why so many black people are angry. Many whites suffer from fatigue at seeing angry black people marching or protesting this type of injustice. I can understand that. I suffer fatigue from hearing about this stupid crap.
I am also really tired of seeing people not taking Sharpton or others seriously because they happen to piss off a bunch of the more conservative or “color blinded” white folks. Sharpton in particular is a great man. The problem w/ this whole discussion is that some people are still blind to the racial issues still plaguing our country. They are fine w/ it as long as it doesn’t affect their daily lives. Now that it is (even in a small measure) they want to know why? What can be done to make it stop?
I think those questions are vaild but are kind of silly at this stage in the game. Until we start by openly talking about culture, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual oritentation and how we can love our fellow man nothing will really change. That’s the thing that black people are protesting the most. Those boys did not deserve everything that was initially brought to them especially when they are responding to years of being discrimiated against.
p



report abuse
 

M. Hill

posted September 20, 2007 at 5:23 pm


“Overt and very stark racial disparities are a matter of daily occurrence when it comes to law enforcement, the judicial process, and the prison system”. Jim Wallis said this and that is the heart of this issue. Black people are up in arms not just because of this lone issue, but because this is an example of a common occurrances in America, where people of color are given harsher and more dire consequences in the judicial system than whites. No one is saying what these CHILDREN did are wrong (please remember that these are children when you speak harsh about them), both black and white. The white kids that beat up the black student days before at a party were not charged with attempted murder yet they committed the same crime. Children in America are not receiving the guidance they need from Adults in their community and this is outcome.



report abuse
 

splinterlog

posted September 20, 2007 at 5:23 pm


Lets just be AMERICANS
And that’s all visible minorities are asking for. And yet every time there is a case of discrimination this refrain gets turned on its head so that it means, “we’ll discriminate based on colour but the moment a visible minority protests coloured racism, we’ll accuse THEM of being racist not US”.
Its something like Shelby Steele taking a phrase from a famous speech by MLK and turning it on its head – “The Content of their Character”. Steele argues that colour based strategies (like AA) go against the spirit of this speech as much as racism does – all the while ignoring the fact that strategies like AA exist BECAUSE of colour based discrimination and not FOR it.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 20, 2007 at 5:27 pm


OK .. why are were using the terms .. African American ..Why cant we be Americans (Period) When I go to England .. I dont hear the term -African British .. I dont go around calling my self German-American .. Lets just be AMERICANS !
FWIW, “African-American” started in general usage in or around 1988 as an alternative to “black” (which to this day I still prefer, personally) because “black” was seen as having negative connotations — “black market,” “black sheep of the family” etc. So it represented a way for people to define themselves rather than having others define them, which is a major key to respect and equality, which can lead to eventual reconciliation. Besides, blacks have never had that kind of presence, at least for that long, in Europe, so racism there isn’t quite as pervasive as it is here (of course, I’d be a fool to deny that it doesn’t exist at all).
Besides, most white Americans, especially in major cities, are so mixed up ethnically due to intermarriage that just because they have a certain surname doesn’t mean they have that cultural background. A close friend of mine has a German last name but also comes from Eastern European stock as well.



report abuse
 

Nuttshell

posted September 20, 2007 at 5:47 pm


As a black woman who experienced incidents like the one in Jena up through the 80′s in MD, let me offer some perspective about the reaction of the Jena 6. I am not nor have I heard any other black people including Mychal Bell’s mother, saying that the Jena 6 should not be held responsible for the incident where there was 6 on 1. What I have problem with is how the local prosecuter chose to deal with that attack versus other incidents. Should Mychal Bell go to prison for 22 years over this? I think not. Most people seem to gloss over the fact that a black youth was physically attacked at a party by white youths before the last incident. What about the black guys who had a shotgun pointed at them? How is that not a crime as well? No one but the black guys were charged in that incident. As for the school board, they overturned the susupension of the kids involved in the noose incident. Of course the black families were insensed. Here’s another example of white privilege. The DA didn’t make things better with his not-so-subtle threat about ruining the lives of black kids in that community. That was code meant to scare and intimidate those kids and frankly they erupted. How many adults would do differently?
Let me mention proportionality. Most white people act as if these entire incidents happened in a vacuum. What kinds of violence and intimidation have the black people of Jena, LA been experiencing before Sept 1, 2006? Many, many black people experience racial intimidation and threats of violence as a rather common experience. What kind of place must Jena be if in 2006, there is a “white” tree that only white kids sit under? How absurd! The fact that this practice has existed for so long means that the people of Jena have a log in their eye regarding race. And the reaction white students had towards presumptious black students who would dare sit under the tree… Many of you folks have no idea what kind of internal rage exists in people who grow up under that kind of bigotry.
My sister and I used to be routinely “menaced” (we would be surrounded by a group of guys who would call us the n-word and other vile names while making threatening moves against us) by white guys in our community in suburban MD. My sister and I took to carrying a bat in our car and invited the menacers to let us practice our swing on their ignorant heads. I mention this to say that many black people experience many slights that cut and corrode the soul and when larger issues like the nooses and the other acts of intimidation (and we don’t know all the things that have happened)occur, the response is usually severe. A cauldron has been bubbling in this community for a long time and unfortunately these kinds of things happen.
Now, some will say that you can’t lash out when someone is unkind to you. While it is true, it is understandable that after a series of injustices, people will lash out and sometimes violently. Jena leaders had an opportunity to prevent nearly everything that has happened. Now they are trying to unfairly put all the blame on the black kids. In this case, white and black kids were hurt by the Jena leaders and officials cowardice.
I’m no big Sharpton fan but I think his involvement is consistent and appropriate for this kind of incident. He would be roundly criticized (by his constituency) if he wasn’t involved.



report abuse
 

Lynn Bergfalk

posted September 20, 2007 at 5:51 pm


There is no question that racism persists, and the Jena situation demonstrates it in a variety of ways. However, we don’t advance justice with the selective omission of factual material. Lydia Bean does a huge disservice to the cause by not being forthright about the act of violence that was the basis of the legal action. One individual was beaten, held down, & viciously kicked in the head by a group of youths. Had this happened to any of us, we would not consider the concussion and other injuries insignificant. I have been involved in urban ministries for years, and believe unequivocally that there is never an excuse for this kind of violence – period. It doesn’t matter who hit who, or what color the hitter or ‘hittee’ is – humans, let alone Christians, cannot not excuse this kind of gratuitous violence. I agreed with nearly everything that Ms. Bean said, and her analysis of the larger context, and regret that she ruined her credibility, in my judgment, by not being forthcoming about all the details. Her case would not have been weakened by telling the whole story. Had someone on the other side of the spectrum slanted a story is this way (which in my judgment happens too often), I would have been infuriated – and so in fairness, must express in this case my disappointment with the omission of certain information, and the failure to categorically reject violence.



report abuse
 

Warren Sapp

posted September 20, 2007 at 6:03 pm


I still believe in the best in people. Racism presents us all with a huge blind spot. Violence of any kind most often grows from blind spots. Did the teens who hung the nooses not see how reprehensible (way beyond “poor taste”) and threatening that was? I do not encourage criminal prosecution or permanent expulsion for hanging nooses — I encourage strong and sustained action on the part of the school system to confront the issue — suspension if necessary. After Jessie and Al have gone home to other dramas, Jena will have to sweep up the mess. This is an opportunity for dialog, learning, reconciliation after all the uproar has died down. Is Jena and its school system racist? You bet. Can they see it? Not yet. Can human beings learn? I hope. I’m so glad for the intervention of “outsiders.” But it will have to be “insiders” who finally bring the reconciliation home. Where are the churches and their leaders?
Peace, Warren



report abuse
 

Mark P (the Yank)

posted September 20, 2007 at 6:32 pm


Is the assault considered a hate crime? I intend that as a factual legal question, though it is, no doubt, loaded.



report abuse
 

neuro_nurse

posted September 20, 2007 at 7:00 pm


Before she died my grandmother lived in Harrison Arkansas, the mailing address for the Ku Klux Klan. (In answer to the query above regarding “White History Month” – see the KKK’s webpage. They are holding a “White Christian Heritage Festival” in Pulaski, TN – birthplace of the KKK)
I remember feeling very uncomfortable in the Wal-Mart in Harrison (hey, it’s pretty much the only store in town!) when I realized there were no people of color there. I also recall feeling very much at home in a Winn-Dixie in New Orleans when I realized I was the only white person in the store – but then, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Africa, so there’s no reason why that would strike me as out of the ordinary.
I also recall the nauseating feeling I experienced when my grandmother’s husband (she remarried after my grandfather died – so no wisecracks!) told me that he had witnessed lynchings in the town square in Harrison.
Lynchings and the civil rights movement are not things from this country’s remote past. These are things that many people living today not only remember, but participated in (I’m not so sure where my grandmother’s husband stood when that was taking place).
I try to remain calm and not insult anyone directly, but the remark that the ACLU would defend hanging a noose from a tree as ‘free speech” is absurd! Hanging a noose from a tree is a direct assault on the rights of other people – get a clue.
My ACLU membership renewal came in the mail a few days ago. I was thinking I’d let my membership lapse, but just for that I’m going to renew.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 20, 2007 at 7:40 pm


Lydia Bean does a huge disservice to the cause by not being forthright about the act of violence that was the basis of the legal action.
I’m not so sure about that. The whole situation reminds me a bit of the aftermath of the L. A. riots after the cops were acquitted for beating Rodney King — I didn’t condone them (and, in fact, when I saw Reginald Denny having a brick hit him in the head I burst into tears), but I understand the frustration of justice not being done. There does seem to be a double-standard here, and that’s why people marched today.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 20, 2007 at 7:47 pm


“I would make a wager that if swastika symbols had been spray painted onto the white tree not only would there had been major coverage by the mass media but the individuals responsible would have been expelled, arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. ”
I would take that bet in a heartbeat. There are swastikas all over Minneapolis, the product of gang graffiti. Nobody cares. At all. When was the last time a national news story arose from a swastika being painted? Do you think that it doesn’t happen?
I agree that the students should have been expelled, but there was simply no case for prosecution here.



report abuse
 

Gordon

posted September 20, 2007 at 8:04 pm


“I agree that the students should have been expelled, but there was simply no case for prosecution here.”
I have given this a lot of thought, and so far haven’t come up with a crime that could have been charged. Defacing a public tree maybe? Malicious mischief?



report abuse
 

Jeff

posted September 20, 2007 at 9:07 pm


The gun theft angle is the key I think. One source I read said there was a fight and a white student went and got a gun, which was then taken from him by a black student. The black student was then charged with theft. Another story is the incident was an assault and robbery with the black student stealing the gun.
Getting to the bottom of this is important. If the first story is true. Then we have the police protecting someone making a threat with a gun. If the second story is true, we have a media that is willing to foment a race riot to boost ratings.
Jeff



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 20, 2007 at 10:21 pm


The gun theft angle is the key I think. One source I read said there was a fight and a white student went and got a gun, which was then taken from him by a black student.
Because the white student was threatening the black student with it, I’m told.



report abuse
 

letjusticerolldown

posted September 20, 2007 at 10:43 pm


I think the problem is my heart.
Jena is America and it is a VERY complex place. And I really would prefer to be left alone rather than try to dissect and understand everything involved. It is absolutely unfair to project 400 years of a nation’s racial issues onto a handful of people in Jena–but neither does a noose in Jena exist in a vacuum.
I look in my home cities of Montgomery AL and Minneapolis MN and see our (i.e. Christian churches) dire failure to incarnate a creative, loving and just Gospel. We so need to courageously create a space of great grace, forgiveness, courage, clarity, and loving truth-telling–in which redemption and reconciliation and partnership occur.
Peace to all in Jena tonight.



report abuse
 

Mark P (the Yank)

posted September 20, 2007 at 10:55 pm


The gun threaten/theft is a big deal; I agree.
The Jena Times states that unconnected eyewitnesses support the claim that it was a robbery, NOT a self-defense against a threat (see kevin’s link to the article). Perhaps the paper itself is compromised. All the sources for the Jena 6 support the self-defense claim, but (so far as I’ve seen) they offer no citation, evidence, or support aside from the testimony of those accused. I’ll try not to pass final judgment from afar; thus far the preponderance of evidence evidently stands behind robbery, though certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt.
The fact that Ms Bean chose to ignore even that possibility, stating that it was self-defense with absolute factuality (and without any reference of assertions to the contrary in any way) tells me that she’s more into inflaming than investigating.
And again, to reiterate, I do not believe that the “six” ought to be in jail or prison, but neither do I believe that they ought to escape without any justice. Regardless of circumstances, let’s remember that there is only one brutal beating in this matter; the Jena 6 are obviously not hardened criminals or “lost causes” to be thrown away in the penal system, but nor are they innocent little angels.



report abuse
 

Bob

posted September 20, 2007 at 11:04 pm


You don’t have the facts straight. The nooses appeared the day after the black kids sat under the tree. The white kids who hung the nooses all got suspended.
The black kid who was sentenced to a long jail term (for kicking the unconscious white kid in the head), had a prior criminal record. The uproar is over racial inequity. But many are acting as if hanging the nooses from the tree was a worse crime than a potentially deadly assault! Let’s get the facts straight, and a get a realistic view of the situation.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 21, 2007 at 8:21 am


But many are acting as if hanging the nooses from the tree was a worse crime than a potentially deadly assault!
YOU DON’T GET IT!!! In that context, it’s similar to threatening someone with a gun — and as such it’s not a prank but a hate crime! As such, the white kids should have been expelled!



report abuse
 

Mark P (the Yank)

posted September 21, 2007 at 9:56 am


Rick, it IS serious, as I’ve said. And it is indeed a very serious threat. And they *should* have been expelled.
Bob’s implication is that the assault was a worse crime than the threat. Do you disagree?
Is threatening someone worse than knocking them unconscious and then kicking the s*** out of them?



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 21, 2007 at 10:07 am


Bob’s implication is that the assault was a worse crime than the threat. Do you disagree?
In that context, I do — because the “noose prank” was purely racially motivated and the fight, if anything, was retaliation for that. Now, I don’t condone the fight, but the clearly racist atmosphere had a hand in creating the conditions under which it occurred.



report abuse
 

Nuttshell

posted September 21, 2007 at 10:27 am


Mark P & Bob,
Why do you keep ignoring the fact that there were black kids who were also assaulted? A black kid was jumped at a party which in turn led to other violence. My goodness this kind of thing has been going on for nearly 40 years after schools were desegregated. It happened at my high school. And usually after one kid got jumped, then a group of other kids would go out and jump some other kids (usually of a different race). Given the attitudes of people in that town, do you really think blacks down there would instigate violence if they didn’t think they were being provoked or intimidated? It wasn’t too long ago (and I’m sure the parents made sure their kids knew it) when black youths could be killed for doing little of nothing that offended white people, especially down South. Mark P & Bob are all too willing to believe that apart from the nooses, the white kids down there are pure. And yes the kids who put up the nooses were originally suspended but then the school board overturned that decision so effectively nothing happened to them. That’s when this whole situation started. The school board and DA are to blame for everything that happened afterwards.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 21, 2007 at 10:50 am


It wasn’t too long ago (and I’m sure the parents made sure their kids knew it) when black youths could be killed for doing little or nothing that offended white people, especially down South.
That’s why the nooses are the central issue in this conflict.



report abuse
 

neuro_nurse

posted September 21, 2007 at 11:43 am


Let’s try to look beyond the issue of who-did-what-to-whom.
In the Grand Scheme of Things, Jena serves a larger purpose than whether or not six young men go to prison for a crime they committed.
Jena calls to our attention the fact that in the U.S. in the 21st century, there are schools where blatant racism is still tolerated, by this I am referring to the “white tree.” A black student should not have to ask for permission to sit under a tree on a school campus that has been ‘traditionally’ reserved for whites.
The outrage over the hanging of nooses from that tree in response to an African-American student having the audacity to sit under that tree is justified – again, this is the U.S., “home of the free, home of the brave – isn’t that what all of the fighting is about? Isn’t that what patriotism really is?
This is the 21st century.
I would like to trust the legal system in the U.S. and believe that the young men who committed the crimes will be treated justly, but I think it would be extremely naïve to believe that in a community where excluding African-Americans from sitting under a specific tree is tolerated and perhaps even condoned, and where white young men feel free to express their disapproval of that action by vividly recalling this country’s shameful history of oppression of African-Americans, that there will not be a strong, palpable, if not overt, bias against a couple of young, African-American men.
The issue is bigger. It goes beyond a tiny town in Louisiana. The issue is that this attitude towards African-Americans still exists in this country. I do not believe that this is a unique event. I believe that similar behaviors towards African-Americans are still very common in this country – perhaps not to the same degree, and therefore, easier to ignore.
I’m a white man living in the south. I can’t tell you how many times I have pulled up to a gas station and the cashier inside will allow me to pump gas before paying, then watched as a the same cashier will insist that an African-American man pay for his gas before pumping.
Is that racism? Is it “actionable?” Should we march against that gas station for its racist policies? Or just put up with it? It’s a lot easier for me to put up with it, since I’m not the one who is being discriminated against. What about you? (I can hear you already – “Well, black people are more likely to drive off without paying than white people are.” Where’s your data? Can you support that with facts? I will not accept anecdotes. I’ve known plenty of white scumbags who have done it – that’s an anecdote, does it justify saying that white people are more likely to drive off without paying?)
Is it despicable that that happens in the U.S. in the 21st century?
Should Christians make excuses for that?
Jena is a case when racism rears its ugly head. How should we, as Christians, respond?
Seek peace and pursue it.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 21, 2007 at 12:38 pm


neuro_nurse — That’s what this is all about.
I can’t say a lot of that stuff has happened to me. While driving I’ve never been stopped by a cop for no good reason. I’ve never knowingly been followed around by a store clerk. But, as I mentioned earlier, people have tried to exclude me and twice even picked fights with me. I always doubted that, despite the progress I’ve seen in my 46 years, we’ve “cured” racism.
My own racially- and culturally-diverse evangelical church had a “diversity luncheon” last Sunday, and I wondered why it was even necessary. This situation reminded me.



report abuse
 

letjusticerolldown

posted September 21, 2007 at 1:04 pm


Rick,
It took me many years to grasp the “threat of the noose”–that there is a long history and present capacity of Black lives to be taken with the system offering nothing but a bland, blank, stare (at best).
My dear white brothers and sisters–at the heart of racism and at the heart of complaints against US foreign policy–is the human capacity to murder–the human capacity to make another invisible–to shut them down–with a wave of the hand, or look of disgust, to shut down another person as a nothing–to commit homicide in our hearts that can in a more ultimate form produce genocide.
One of the good things, in my thinking, about the cultural hostility to conservative Christians is that it gives some of us just an inkling of what it feels like to be made invisible and a legitimate target of scorn.
Before we argue over details/facts of cases in situations like this, I believe we really need hearts, minds and ears opened. We need to perceive in our spirits what the noose is about and then apply our heads.
The noose hangers could well have been semi-innocent pranksters. In which case white parents, pastors, teachers are needed to minister something very deep–something they may have not taken time to understand.
Persons, such as Rick, have been a profound blessing in my journey–African-Americans who through and through feel it is a lost cause to attempt to communicate their journey to conservative white guys like me–and yet they pause, take a deep breath, and again help me to see and hear. Until we hear the reality of this central relationship (white-black relations) in the American church and nation–our ears will be crippled and twisted in hearing the voices of the world–which we must do if we are to fulfill our God-assigned purposes.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 21, 2007 at 1:12 pm


One of the good things, in my thinking, about the cultural hostility to conservative Christians is that it gives some of us just an inkling of what it feels like to be made invisible and a legitimate target of scorn.
FWIW, probably most of the scorn that conservative Christians — which, to a certain extent, includes me — receive is, frankly, earned. It’s our touchiness, arrogance and self-righteousness, not our Savior, that non-believers react to, plus the fact that we haven’t always communicate a message of grace and reconcilation.
Otherwise, you’ve got it down pat.



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted September 21, 2007 at 1:19 pm


Rick as usual I agree w/ you. I think you conservatives get picked on because you earn it. I think the average person is willing to just leave you alone but I find that most of the time there is so much judmentalism and so little grace that people feel attacked and so they attack back.
p



report abuse
 

squeaky

posted September 21, 2007 at 1:53 pm


I don’t know the details of this case, but what strikes me is how deeply the school administration erred in dealing with the initial issue–a tree that traditionally was for whites only, nooses in school colors hung on that tree after black students requested to sit there. That action should not have been dismissed as a mere prank, but rather been met with swift and harsh repercussions. Suspensions of the guilty parties were in order, serious and hard school-wide discussions on why that is unacceptible behavior was in order. It was a hate crime, not a prank. The students responsible for the initial hate crime should have been dealt with in a way that lets everyone else know this is no longer accepted in the south or in this nation. The fact it went as far as it did was a result of the school administration’s anemic response to an incredibly serious and offensive act. If incidences like hanging a noose in a tree are dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders by those in authority, then it is clear race issues are still of major concern in the south.



report abuse
 

carl copas

posted September 21, 2007 at 2:27 pm


Friends in Christ,
this is one of the best discussions we have ever had on SOJO. Differering points of view vigorously expressed but no name-calling or accusations of bad faith.
Let’s take this as a model for our future exchanges, and let us pray for all in Jena, of whatever race.



report abuse
 

Nuttshell

posted September 21, 2007 at 3:55 pm


I agree with Carl. This discussion has been much more positive than most of late. I think it is because few people on this site are so blind and some around the country and even in LA who think this is case about nothing. Most believers understand that the human heart is wicked and capable of so much hate and therefore in need of God’s saving Grace. I believe most of us recognize the incidents in Jena for what they are and are not willing to gloss over these things. Those of us in Christ no matter what color, sex, orientation or origin must demonstrate that God’s abiding love in all human life.



report abuse
 

Wolverine

posted September 22, 2007 at 12:01 am


A few observations:
I’ve sort of stayed out of this discussion, mainly because I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but also because my gut told me something really had gone wrong in Jena.
I’ve looked around and found a few different versions of the story. In some Jena comes out looking worse than in others, but none do the town any credit.
It should be noted that Mychal Bell had a history of violence. Apparently he was on probation for assault at the time he was found to have attacked Justin Barker:
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/columnists/jason_whitlock/story/284511.html
But even after taking that into account, I find it hard to see how any of this could be the basis of an attempted murder charge. Was it serious? Yes. Did Bell deserve some jail time? Maybe. Attempted murder? (rolls eyes)
And yes, the nooses were provocative. Given the history — “Strange fruit hanging from the poplar tree” — its hard to see how black students wouldn’t take that as a threat. And the light punishment extended to those responsible was reckless to say the least. If by some chance those involved didn’t understand the seriousness of what they did, it was the duty of the school board to make good and sure that they did understand before they set foot in school again.
Are the people of Jena a bunch of bigots? Maybe, maybe not. In any event it sure looks to me like Jena has more than its fair share of nitwits in positions of authority.
Are the protestors “playing the race card”? Maybe, but heck, after treating the noose incident like it was no big deal and then treating the attack on Barker as a murder attempt, Jena’s political leaders were begging for exactly what they got.
What a bunch of idiots…
Wolverine



report abuse
 

TheOtherJames

posted September 22, 2007 at 6:19 am


“I am generally sympathetic to the cause of the Jena 6, but turning this into polemic seems neither helpful nor useful. ”
She is not turning it into a polemic- she is telling what she has experienced in working through Friends of Justice. It is painful but true. The fact that there have been protests and discussion of this problem is the only hope that these kids have.
“I don’t see where all the protests (with SWAT teams and Black Panthers and etc…) are going to make this situation better. I wish the black community had better spokespeople that Sharpton and Jackson, whose preening participation will only fuel the contention that this is simply an example of playing the race card.”
Jackson and Sharpton have been highly controversial figures in the past and have both made their mistakes. But simply because they’re involved does not mean that these kids are simply playing the race card and anyone who make such an accusation would probably make it regardless of the participation of Jackson and Sharpton in the debate and protests.



report abuse
 

Nana Yaa

posted September 22, 2007 at 2:19 pm


AMERICA — HOME OF THE FREE IS A FALLACY!
THIS IS BASED ON THE FALSE HOPES THAT THE FOREFATHERS OF THIS NATION CREATED WHEN DRAWING UP THE CONSTITUTION.
MINORITIES INCLUDING WOMEN ARE CONSIDERED LESS THAN A WHOLE PERSON UNDER THE CONSTITUTION AND THE POWERS AT BE WILL NOT HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY.
THIS IS EVIDENT BY THE WAY PEOPLE ARE TREATED IN THIS SOCIETY DAILY. IT IS EVIDENT IN THE INEQUALITIES AND DISPARITIES OF INCOME — COMPARE STUDIES OF WHITE MENS SALARIES VERSUS OTHERS IN THIS NATION WHICH IS WIDELY KNOWN AND PUBLISHED AND THIS ALONE WILL PROVE MY POINT!
THIS NATION WAS BUILT ON A LIE.
WE ARE STILL LIVING THAT LIE TODAY.
CHANGES WILL NOT TAKE PLACE UNTIL WE ALL COME TO GRIPS WITH THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
READ AND RESEARCH PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
STOP LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO STATE AN OPINION AND ACCEPT THAT AS TRUTH…TAKE THE TIME TO FIND OUT WHAT IS HAPPENING.
PUBLIC OFFICIALS INCLUDING THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE SCHOOL, THE POLICE DEPARTMENT, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND IT APPEARS EVEN THE ATTORNEY GENERAL VIOLATED THE LAW AND LEFT YOUNG CHILDREN NO OTHER CHOICE BUT TO SETTLE THEIR DISPUTES THE BEST WAY THEY COULD…THESE ARE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO RELY ON US — THE ADULTS AND PUBLIC OFFICIALS TO HELP GUIDE THEM AND NURTURE THEM TO GROW. IF WE DO NOT SET THE PROPER EXAMPLE WHAT DO YOU EXPECT OF THEM??? WHITE — BLACK — BROWN — YELLOW — INDIFFERENT!
IF ANY ACTION SHOULD TAKE PLACE IT SHOULD BE TO PROSECUTE THE PUBLIC OFFICIAL INVOLVED WHO KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING AND CHOSE TO PERPETUATE THE PROBLEM INSTEAD OF SOLVING IT.
Consider these facts and you will see who really needs to be prosecuted in this case:
(1) The Superintendent of the school dismissed a criminal act by the white kids hanging 3 nooses as a prank. Louisiana state law states that this is a form of harassment– it is a non-verbal threat that has caused a reasonable person to fear for his or her life. Since he is a public official he should be upholding the law.
And, fights broke out long before the Jena 6 and Justin Barker were involved. White kids jumped a black kid first and stomped, kicked and beat him down to the ground before the incident happend with Jean 6. No serious action was taken here. Justin Barker the white kid attacked by Jena 6 boys taunted and teased the blacks for “getting their asses kicked by white kids) (Please read and research this site and others that details the case) –
AGAIN, THESE ARE KIDS WHO WENT TO THE AUTHORITIES FOR HELP AND WERE LET DOWN. THEY WERE FORCED TO SETTLE THEIR DISPUTES SOMEHOW AS THEY WERE CONSTANTLY TAUNTED AND PROVOKED — THE ADULTS IN THIS CASE SHOULD BE PROSECUTED!!!!!
(2) The District Attorney should be prosecuted because he violated the law. He made a direct verbal threat when he addressed the students in a school assembly and looked over at the blacks sitting in the auditorium and threatened them by stating “If you don’t stop this mess, with the stroke of a pen I have the power to change your lives forever”. And as we all can see he is carrying out these threats. On top of that he has boldy gone on record stating that he said this.
(3) The Attorney General did not take responsibility for this case instead he punted it over to the US Attorney’s office. According to Louisiana state law it is the Attorney Generals responsibility to investigate the case and if a state attorney or any attorney is in violation, the Attorney General must seek approval from the courts to supersede the attorney on the case. Clearly this has not happened. ATTORNEY GENERAL COFI IS CONCERNED ONLY ABOUT HIS CONSTITUENTS. Protests have been going on well before September 20th. And 60,000 marching on Jena has not changed a thing. The District Attorney SHOULD NOT have been allowed to prosecute this case at all. He is still on this case and you can be assured that his position has not changed.. According to reports he is seeking to appeal last weeks courts decision to turn the case over to Juvenile courts. Originally the case was being tried in Adult court and the District Attorney was requesting a 100 year sentence. Sentence now since it has been turned over to Juvenile court has been reduced to 22 years. PLEASE NOTE: This is a scheme–the case is being appealed by the District Attorney to bring it back to Adult court. Therefore, if the judges rule in favor of the unjust in this case then a precedence will be set for future arguments against our civil liberties in this country. Also, remember that this case is one of six. Hence, “Jena 6″. All six boys could have been tried as one to have a better understanding of what happened, to save time and money and to expedite the process. The scheme is to try them all separately to breakdown the system and wear out the attorneys and or defenders and those who will fight against them.
(3) The Sheriff should be prosecuted for holding Mychal Bell even though he can post bail. Just last week, the sheriff has decided to hold Mycal Bell for an additional 3 weeks to allow this corrupt scheme to continue until they get their way…The District Attorney is appealing the decision now to move the case back to Adult court See how they operate. In the meantime, this kid is in jail still—thousands have marched — there is a public outcry — the world is watching and the corrupt are bold enough to pursue this anyway on their terms — not the law.
(4) The FCC should be prosecuted for allowing the News to skew reports — we could be on the verge of a civil war about something like this! Consider the facts that were reported from independent journals such as Friends of Justice, Truthout.org and NPR among others that do not line their pockets based on advertising dollars and therefore are not told by their bosses to follow the script or be fired…
IF YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD — THEN SEEK THE TRUTH ALWAYS AND TAKE ACTION TO INSTILL PEACE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD!
Nana Yaa



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 22, 2007 at 4:15 pm


Note: None of what I write below should be construed to mean that I do not think that what happened in Jena is unjust.
“She is not turning it into a polemic- she is telling what she has experienced in working through Friends of Justice. It is painful but true. The fact that there have been protests and discussion of this problem is the only hope that these kids have.”
I read another article from the AP correcting some previous misinformation.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070922/ap_on_re_us/a_place_called_jena
The article notes that the kids who hung the nooses were actually placed in an alternative school for a month and given a two-week in-school suspension. This is not as severe as expulsion, but neither is it the slap on the wrist that advocacy groups have claimed.
The “stroke of my pen” line was uttered at an assembly of the entire school, whereas the post here implies that it was during a protest. The statement is certainly ill-advised, and may easily have been racilly motivated, but tell the story as is.
“But simply because they’re involved does not mean that these kids are simply playing the race card and anyone who make such an accusation would probably make it regardless of the participation of Jackson and Sharpton in the debate and protests.”
The problem with Jackson and Sharpton is that they will show up to protest whether or not a particular cause has any merit. That does not mean that every cause at which they decide to draw attention to themselves is without merit, but they are certainly doing nothing to enhance the credibility of the Jena 6.
Perhaps, as Friends of Justice and others became flustered at the lack of media response to this case, they began to sensationalize the story, trimming away nuances and conflicting motivations. Such an impulse is understandable, and often necessary in advocacy work.
Now, people are starting to become aware of this case, and it is starting a national discussion. The best way to have this discussion is to deal with facts. If information is being withheld, people are going to feel duped (remember Tawana Brawley?) and they are going to become resistant to the discussion.



report abuse
 

Lydia Bean

posted September 22, 2007 at 5:23 pm


To quote Kevin S: “The problem with Jackson and Sharpton is that they will show up to protest whether or not a particular cause has any merit.”
Jackson and Sharpton have nothing to do with anything. People only focus on their personalities because they don’t want to take a good look at themselves and their own country.
And to respond to your accusation of sensationalism:
“Perhaps, as Friends of Justice and others became flustered at the lack of media response to this case, they began to sensationalize the story, trimming away nuances and conflicting motivations. Such an impulse is understandable, and often necessary in advocacy work.”
God’s Politics gave me strict space limits, which did not allow me to go into every jot and tittle of the story. The basic outline of the story is accurate. If you want more in-depth analysis of the timeline of the Jena events, go to http://friendsofjustice.wordpress.com, where there is more extensive documentation.
I find it incredible that some folks prefer to debate about matters of my organization’s phrasing and motivation, instead of taking the time to follow the links that I provided SPECIFICALLY so they could get more in-depth coverage of the facts of the case and judge for themselves. Perhaps we have become numbed by our media’s frivolous obsession with celebrity news. Are we now incapable of carrying out disciplined analysis of events, by following the links that I freely provided for your perusal? Why do people prefer to make snide remarks about people’s private lives instead of deliberating honestly about our nation’s future?



report abuse
 

TheOtherJames

posted September 22, 2007 at 6:41 pm


” Why do people prefer to make snide remarks about people’s private lives instead of deliberating honestly about our nation’s future?”
Thank you for calling that particular person out on this. He has been engaged in that type of activity for quite some time here and it is about time he be made to answer for his way of interacting with others on this blog.



report abuse
 

Wolverine

posted September 22, 2007 at 7:56 pm


Lydia Bean wrote:
Why do people prefer to make snide remarks about people’s private lives instead of deliberating honestly about our nation’s future?
Snide or not, nothing that Kevin talked about is “private”. The protests staged by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are very much public events. News releases put out by Friends of Justice are matters of public record as well.
The discrepancy over just what punishment was dished out over the noose incident is an important point. Most stories say that those guys got little more than a wrist slap, but now Kevin has found a source that says it was something more substantial. This is not a minor detail, this is supposed to be the point where racial conflict gets escalated and the local authorites fail to act, but Ms. Bean slides right past it.
I hope you won’t accuse me of being snide or infringing on anyone’s privacy when I ask Ms. Bean: Was it a three day suspension or was it something longer?
Wolverine



report abuse
 

Catherine Bombac

posted September 22, 2007 at 10:24 pm


There is no question that racism persists, and the Jena situation demonstrates it in a variety of ways. However, we don’t advance justice with the selective omission of factual material. Lydia Bean does a huge disservice to the cause by not being forthright about the act of violence that was the basis of the legal action. One individual was beaten, held down, & viciously kicked in the head by a group of youths.
Posted by: Lynn Bergfalk
Assault is assault. My grandson was assaulted viciously at school by six white students, and, the school did nothing about it. Boys will be boys. He is white, btw. I was really angry. But, I didn’t retaliate physically. Youth today, don’t seem to have calm. What is with that?
I agree that there is way too much energy going on here. Jenna law enforcement should have nothing more to do with this business, as everything has been compromised. To restore calm and proper procedure a federal person should be appointed to clear all this up. Reason, Not, Reaction to Violence is needed here.
Hopefully, one day , we will all be americans and not designated by color or ethnic origin.
Thank you,
Hope everything gets better for all of us.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 22, 2007 at 11:51 pm


“Jackson and Sharpton have nothing to do with anything.”
Would that this were so.
“People only focus on their personalities because they don’t want to take a good look at themselves and their own country.”
I do want to take a good look at myself and my country. I would like to do so on a factual basis, thank you.
“And to respond to your accusation of sensationalism”
Which, to reiterate, I noted was understandable.
“God’s Politics gave me strict space limits”
There are ways to be even-handed and concise.
“I find it incredible that some folks prefer to debate about matters of my organization’s phrasing and motivation, instead of taking the time to follow the links that I provided SPECIFICALLY so they could get more in-depth coverage of the facts of the case and judge for themselves.”
All the links are to information provided by your organization.
“Are we now incapable of carrying out disciplined analysis of events, by following the links that I freely provided for your perusal?”
Well, my disciplined analysis of events went beyond your suggested links, which is sort of my point.
“Why do people prefer to make snide remarks about people’s private lives instead of deliberating honestly about our nation’s future?”
What did I say about your private life? This is a bizarre comment.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 22, 2007 at 11:55 pm


“Thank you for calling that particular person out on this. He has been engaged in that type of activity for quite some time here and it is about time he be made to answer for his way of interacting with others on this blog.”
Can you cite an example of where I have been engaged in making snide remarks about your private life, or of the private lives of anyone else on this blog?



report abuse
 

TheOtherJames

posted September 23, 2007 at 8:36 am


“Most stories say that those guys got little more than a wrist slap, but now Kevin has found a source that says it was something more substantial. ”
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh! Ahhhhh! You and and Kevin are a veritable truth squad when it comes to nit-picking at progressive bloggers. Would it be that you applied the same standards to an administration that lied to get us into a war and continues to lie on any number of issues- that simply doesn’t suit you, though, because you are sypathetic to those causes. The value of your comments and insight is at best de minimis.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 23, 2007 at 11:24 am


“The value of your comments and insight is at best de minimis.”
Okay, but I would think that the Associated Press might have more heft.



report abuse
 

Nana Yaa

posted September 23, 2007 at 11:53 am


To: Kevin and others that want to sidetrack away from the real issues at hand:
YOU ARE THROWING MUD IN THE WATERS!
PEOPLE DON’T BE FOOLED — THESE ARE OLD TACTICS THAT AMERICA USES TO DIVIDE AND CONQUER — INORDER TO HAVE IT’S WAY.
LET’S GET BACK TO THE PROBLEM AT HAND!
THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH JUSTICE FOR ALL IN THIS COUNTRY — LET’S FORGET FOR A MOMENT (just only a moment)ABOUT THE FACT THAT THIS IS A CASE THAT INVOLVES TWO RACES FIGHTING.
NOW — if we were all equal under the constitution of the law (which is debatable) and considering ALL of the facts that were reported including that in which you Kevin have stated (and you’d better believe that I will investigate this) — then do you think it is fair and just to prosecute? I ARGUE NOT! And here’s why:
(1) From the onset the black students exercised their right to enjoy PUBLIC property that their parents, family and community pay taxes for. They simply sat under a tree on school grounds.
(2) In response to this the white kids hung 3 nooses. This is a SYMBOL in this COUNTRY that is –in the minds of those who wish to be honest about it — deep rooted in evil. It is a threat to kill! Plain and simple. Now if you wish to be honest with yourself then you would not accept any other explanation that will justify this.
(3) According to Louisiana state law — any threat, verbal or non-verbal that causes a reasonable person to fear for his or her life is a crime. Should this crime go unpunished? In-school suspension is NOT a punishment. In-school suspension is a measure of correcting kids that are misbehaving and CANNOT replace the action of the courts. THE KIDS THAT HUNG THE NOOSES SHOULD HAVE BEEN PROSECUTED ACCORDING TO THE LAW AND THIS WOULD HAVE PREVENTED ALL OF THIS.
SO, LET’S BE REAL PEOPLE — WAKE UP AND TAKE A LOOK AT THE TRUE ISSUES HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nana Yaa



report abuse
 

Nana Yaa

posted September 23, 2007 at 12:48 pm


Kevin and others who attempt to justify the actions of the unjust:
Consider these facts reported by Associated Press—
Billy Wayne Fowler, a white school-board member who is one of the few leaders with the school administration or local law enforcement who still talks to reporters stated in the AP article:
“Most townsfolk interpreted the events of last year pretty much the same way — that a small minority of troublemakers, both black and white, got out of hand, and that the responses from authorities weren’t always on the mark. The boys who hung the nooses “probably should have been expelled,” Fowler says, and the murder charges brought against the black teenagers were “too harsh, too severe.”
TO FURTHER DEMONSTRATE THE REASON WHY THE AUTORITIES SHOULD BE PROSECUTED IN THIS CASE:
AS REPORTED BY ASSOCIATED PRESS:
A number of other blacks — and whites — have raised similar questions about the Jena Six episode, particularly the manner in which authorities handled a series of racially charged incidents leading up to it.
Why, they ask, wasn’t the noose incident ever reported to police? (A report might have triggered a hate-crime investigation, although federal authorities rarely go after juveniles in such cases.) And when whites and blacks tangled several times before the Jena Six episode, why did authorities charge the whites with misdemeanors — or not at all — while charging blacks with felonies?
THERE IS AN UNDERLYING REASON FOR ALL OF THIS – JUSTICE WILL NEVER BE JUST AND THE TRUTH WILL ALWAYS RISE — BUT IT DEPENDS ON HOW WE – THE PEOPLE – RESPOND – OUR RESPONSIBILITES AS ADULTS AND PUBLIC OFFICIALS SHOULD ALWAYS COME FORTH AND BE EXAMINED IN EACH CASE AS WE SET EXAMPLES FOR OUR YOUNG. AND IF WE ACT IRRESPONSIBLY OR UNLAWFULLY THEN WE MUST BE DEALT WITH – NOT THE YOUNG – THEY LEARN FROM US.
IF YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD THEN YOU CANNOT DENY THIS –
Nana Yaa



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 23, 2007 at 1:22 pm


Nana,
I concede that this is an example of injustice. Ideally, however, we would want not only to see the injustice remedied, but to learn how to prevent the same sort of injustice from occurring in the future.
I feel as though a lot of lessons that could be learned about systemic injuctice (racial or otherwise) within our judicial system can get lost in hype. Maybe this can be the issue that breaks that cycle.
Regarding prosecution related to the noose incident. There are three potential means by which charges could have been brought.
1) Hate Crimes: I have yet to see a hate crimes bill that has resulted in prosecution solely for the production of an oppressive image. We must hold the enforcement of hate crimes legislation in balance with the freedom of expression. You simply cannot prosecute someone for producing a noose.
2) Implied threat or extortion: The problem with prosecuting along these lines is that you have to determine who was making a threat to whom. This means first establishing, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the nooses were intended as a threat to kill. It then means establishing who was threatening to do the killing, and who they were threatening to kill.
For a prosecutor, this alone represents a profoundly high hurdle to clear, and would probably result in the same sort of overblown sentence being handed to the kids who put up the nooses. I don’t think they deserved 20 years in prison either, do you?
3) Vandalism: This would probably be the easiest to prosecute, and might have been a decent avenue to pursue in terms of making a point, but would have resulted in a nominal fine, if anything, given that there was no lasting physical damage to the tree in question.



report abuse
 

Mark P (the Yank)

posted September 23, 2007 at 7:59 pm


For starters, let me clarify yet again that I believe that the noose-hanging was a despicable act, a veritable death threat, and worthy of punishment. This was not an innocent act, and I have been quick to rebuke anyone who wants to call it “poor taste” or a “mistake.” The boys should have been expelled, as I’ve said before.
Some thoughts and responses.
A black kid was jumped at a party which in turn led to other violence.
-What I read in the Jena Times stated that a fight broke out between two groups at a barn party when a group of black kids tried to enter a mostly (but not entirely) white party. This was probably racially motivated, but it was not one kid getting jumped, as you have framed the issue.
In that context, I do — because the “noose prank” was purely racially motivated and the fight, if anything, was retaliation for that.
-We seem to have some word choice problems. A clash between two groups is a “kid” getting “jumped”… but seven boys executing a preplanned attack from behind on one other boy is a “fight.”
“probably most of the scorn that conservative Christians — which, to a certain extent, includes me — receive is, frankly, earned.”
-I think it’s the same process, to an extent. You’ve decided what a group is like, a representative of that group acts accordingly, and you decide that you’re preconceived attitude was justified. However, degrees are clearly different – the amount of stereotype-validating jerk conservatives far, far outweighs the number of stereotype-validating blacks.
-Nonetheless, the same broad-brush strokes are often applied. I am a jerk sometimes, heartless sometimes, and I often fail to be Christ-like. So I will not pretend to be one of the victimized in most circumstances; my sin certainly validates most criticism.
-But I’ve essentially been called a racist by one reader here because I believe that a racial death threat – AS WICKED AS IT UNDENIABLY IS – is less severe an offense than a premeditated assault of a group of seven on a lone individual, from behind, in which the individual was knocked unconscious and then viciously beaten and kicked. Now I can see the reasoning behind an argument that the threat is worse than the assault, but I cannot see how disagreeing with that reasoning makes me a racist.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 23, 2007 at 8:54 pm


I think it’s the same process, to an extent. You’ve decided what a group is like, a representative of that group acts accordingly, and you decide that you’re preconceived attitude was justified.
I didn’t just make the judgment. I saw it up close and personal and even questioned people about it — or tried to. And I did so because I was trying to “call them on it,” to say that such attitudes defame God, but they wouldn’t listen (and some still don’t).
But I’ve essentially been called a racist by one reader here because I believe that a racial death threat – AS WICKED AS IT UNDENIABLY IS – is less severe an offense than a premeditated assault of a group of seven on a lone individual, from behind, in which the individual was knocked unconscious and then viciously beaten and kicked.
The first created the conditions where the second can occur. You have to deal with root causes to make sure nothing like happens in the first place. The authorities didn’t do that, which is why we see the problems we have today.



report abuse
 

Wolverine

posted September 23, 2007 at 9:39 pm


The first created the conditions where the second can occur. You have to deal with root causes to make sure nothing like happens in the first place. The authorities didn’t do that, which is why we see the problems we have today.
No Rick, the nooses did not “cause” Mychal Bell to attack Justin Barker. I don’t mean to say that Bell wasn’t provoked, but Bell and his cohorts chose to respond to that provocation by lying in wait for Barker, punching him him from behind, then continuing to kick Barker after he was unconscious.
If Barker had insulted Bell and Bell had gone after Barker immediately then we could talk about someone other than Bell triggering the whole thing. But what I have in front of me looks premeditated, which means that Bell wasn’t acting in the heat of the moment. This wasn’t a reaction, this was a choice. Bell could just as easily have chosen to cool off.
All the rest of what went on before, the nooses, Barker’s insult, that mitigates things and needs to be taken into account. But the main root causes of Mychal Bell’s attack are to be found in Bell’s head and heart.
Wolverine



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 23, 2007 at 10:07 pm


…the nooses did not “cause” Mychal Bell to attack Justin Barker.
Not directly, no. But they certainly created the conditions that made such at attack more likely.
Bell could just as easily have chosen to cool off.
“Cooling off” would have served no practical purpose because the underlying atmosphere would not have changed. Even if Bell hadn’t gone off someone else probably would have; you certainly don’t expect people to accept passively what happened initially, especially since it was pretty much dismissed by the authorities. Yet that is essentially what you advocate. That is why you simply cannot look at Bell’s actions in a vacuum.



report abuse
 

Wolverine

posted September 23, 2007 at 11:06 pm


“Cooling off” would have served no practical purpose because the underlying atmosphere would not have changed.
“Cooling off” would have served the very practical purpose of keeping Mychal Bell out of jail. “Cooing off” would also give Mychal Bell some time to think of a more constructive way to deal with the entire situation.
Even if Bell hadn’t gone off someone else probably would have; you certainly don’t expect people to accept passively what happened initially, especially since it was pretty much dismissed by the authorities. Yet that is essentially what you advocate. That is why you simply cannot look at Bell’s actions in a vacuum.
You display a remarkable lack of creativity here. Mychal Bell was a star athlete, what if he were to quit the football team in protest? Or how about if he were to use his position as a prominent student to organize protests, or even a boycott of the school? Mychal Bell had other options. He chose the worst, in both practical and moral terms.
Whatever happened to “Soul Force”, anyway?
Wolverine



report abuse
 

Nana Yaa

posted September 23, 2007 at 11:28 pm


Kevin,
If the system is just— and the people pursue to to hav the law executed with the same vigor and passion as that of the District Attorney — then prosecution is possible for authorities involved. Take the time to read up on the law — it is very simple — not vague at all.
Because of the history of this country, the nooses represent a deep rooted symbol of hatred and evil in this country — they CAN be considered a non-verbal threat and in fact IS a CRIME punishable by law. The question is who upholds the law? I live in the deep south– born and raised — seen it all my life — what happened in Jena is no surprise to me – And, it is happening all over the country.
According to the laws of the land — Freedom of expression is within reason — Hanging nooses crosses over that line of reasonableness. And what exactly were they expressing — That Black folk be warned that they are superior than others and therefore could claim public property as their own? There is no way around this — This was a threat which results to crime plain and simple –
I do not believe that those who uphold the law are above it. And unless we examine those who perpetuate a system of injustice they will persist.
It is clear to see who made threats when they go on record saying so. And why would the Superintendent allow the District Attorney and Police to address an auditorium of students at all? And if the Superintendent felt it necessary — then bring it about during a public/PTA meeting — that way the whole school community could come together to try to sort out differences.
Again, we are talking about kids in dispute. Shouldn’t we as adults take the lead and responsibility to set the examples to help our young make sound decisions inorder to grow.
These children are– just that — children who are learning how to grow up and unless we stop slinging mud and take a look at the REAL issues here — then we are lost as a nation and as a world.
Just take a look around you right now — look at your city — peek outside a bit and look at the neighboring states — this nation– alot in common, yes? Okay — now go beyond our borders and look across the oceans –
The Middle East =(Afghanistan + Iraq + Iran + Syria +++)
Asia = (China + North Korea +++)
Others = (not mentioned or unknown +++)
Add them up and they equal threats — not just any threats but—
THESE ARE MAJOR THREATS — HOW ARE WE HANDLING THESE??? IF YOU ARE NOT SURE, I’LL TELL YOU — POORLY — WE ARE AN UNDIGNIFIED ROUGE NATION — AND GAINING ENEMIES DAILY — THIS JENA CASE IS VIEWED BY THE WORLD AS A DISGRACE — AMERICA WANTS TO FREE IRAQ??? COME ON — WE ARE NOT YET FREE OURSELVES –
IT IS UNDENIABLE THAT OUR PROBLEMS LIE WITH THE AUTHORITIES OF THIS NATION.
Nana Yaa



report abuse
 

Nana Yaa

posted September 23, 2007 at 11:38 pm


Jim Wallis and Friends Blog Patrol:
Why are you monitoring my posts? I speak only the truth — I quote the law — I report the facts — I have not broken any of your rules of conduct — why then do you examine me???



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 23, 2007 at 11:44 pm


You display a remarkable lack of creativity here. Mychal Bell was a star athlete, what if he were to quit the football team in protest? Or how about if he were to use his position as a prominent student to organize protests, or even a boycott of the school?
You mistakenly assume “exceptionalism” on his part. For openers, the town still is 85 percent white, and even his status as a football player would not necessarily have granted him respect. Meaning, if he had quit the team or organized a boycott he might not have had a necessary majority whites go along with him and it would have had no effect.
That’s important, because during the civil-rights movement there was more than a critical mass of blacks ready for action wherever demonstrations took place. At the time of the bus boycott, Montgomery, Ala., was already more than half-black, and blacks also made up a large portion of Birmingham and Selma. Few local whites, however, participated in the demonstrations in Jena.



report abuse
 

Nana Yaa

posted September 23, 2007 at 11:49 pm


Jim Wallis and Friends Blog Patrol:
You may answer me in an email message — you have the address. I must say that I am disappointed in this site that is duly called “God’s Politics” presented by beliefnet…



report abuse
 

Wolverine

posted September 24, 2007 at 12:28 am


Rick,
ESPN has an article on Bell up on its website:
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=3030458
Here’s the relevant quote:
Bell had the most to lose. The only All-State player on the Jena Giants, Bell had attracted the interest of a number of Division I schools. LSU, Mississippi State and others had come to Jena to see the two-way player who frequently led the team in rushing and tackles.
I don’t need to tell you that folks in Louisiana care about football. If Bell would have threatened to leave the team, and done so publicly, that certainly would have gotten attention. Would that have gotten results? I’ll admit I don’t know, but I doubt it would have turned out any worse for him or the community as a whole.
Wolverine



report abuse
 

bren

posted September 24, 2007 at 3:40 am


There are a couple of related points haven’t been mentioned yet. First, the noose is not just a symbol of violence, it’s a symbol of lynching. Lynching of black men continued in the south well into the 20th century, and many adults still remember those events.
Second, the principal of the school expelled the boys who put the nooses in the tree but the schoolboard over-ruled him. The school board’s legal advisor was–guess who?–the prosecuting attorney. He also apparently denied the board access to some of the material outlining the case. The school principal quit–truly a principled act.
What is the role of the prosecuting attorney in all of this? Jena is a small town, with a population of about 3,000 with not that many attorneys. So it seems reasonable to assume that this man has a lot of power. Certainly, he chose to prosecute Bell as an adult; he chose to advise the school board to over-rule the school principal; he wants to challenge the court ruling that Bell should not be tried as an adult–to what extent is this man possibly manipulating more people than just the school board?



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 24, 2007 at 7:53 am


If Bell would have threatened to leave the team, and done so publicly, that certainly would have gotten attention. Would that have gotten results?
Probably not, for reasons I’ve already mentioned — he would have needed a majority of whites to go along with him, and based on what we already know that wasn’t happening. Even at the next level, “activism” isn’t always encouraged to make things right. Some might have even told him, “Why don’t you just shut up and play ball?” Besides, it’s likely that the “pranksters” may have had more pull than he did.



report abuse
 

Wolverine

posted September 24, 2007 at 9:02 am


Rick,
You keep missing the point. Mychal Bell didn’t have any easy options that guaranteed success, but he did have better options, both morally and practically, than sucker punching Barker.
Look, if there’s a consensus about anything here, it is that the punishment meted out against Bell has been way out of line with what he actually did. But that doesn’t mean Bell is totally without fault. You lose credibility when you fail to acknowledge that Bell’s actions were both fundamentally wrong and juvenile.
Even if you want to be ruthlessly pragmatic and look at things solely from the interests of Jena’s black community, attacking Barker was, to borrow a line from Talleyrand “worse than a crime, it was a blunder.”
Wolverine



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 24, 2007 at 11:16 am


You keep missing the point. Mychal Bell didn’t have any easy options that guaranteed success, but he did have better options, both morally and practically, than sucker punching Barker.
No, you miss the point. No one in authority in Jena took seriously what was going down anyway, which is why that town had such a media circus last week. Besides, for many years there has been an unwritten rule that black celebrities were to keep silent about such things while they “did their thing” and there were repercussions if they didn’t. Yesterday I read a New York Times article about Louis Armstrong’s speaking out in favor of the Little Rock Nine that caused a great deal of consternation, and Harry Belafonte basically ruined his singing career when he became an activist. Now, that kind of pressure is way, way too much for a high school student.



report abuse
 

Wolverine

posted September 24, 2007 at 12:35 pm


Rick,
No, I got that point. Here’s what I wrote on this very thread on Saturday:
And yes, the nooses were provocative. Given the history — “Strange fruit hanging from the poplar tree” — its hard to see how black students wouldn’t take that as a threat. And the light punishment extended to those responsible was reckless to say the least. If by some chance those involved didn’t understand the seriousness of what they did, it was the duty of the school board to make good and sure that they did understand before they set foot in school again.
And why do you care what the “unwritten rules” are? Heavens, there’s also rules against assault, but none of that stopped Bell and his friends from attacking Barker. It would appear that Bell is not lacking the nerve to be transgressive, so why not be transgressive in a way that has a chance — even if its a slim one — of leading to a positive result and at worst doesn’t end up with him in jail?
Wolverine



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted September 24, 2007 at 12:44 pm


Hell just froze over again.
I agree w/ Kevin and Wolverine. The punishment was out of line and that’s what this whole thing is ultimately about. There is a system in place in Jena and other places around our country that creates a racist hierarchy.
But Bell is not innocent of any wrong doing. He was wrong. I am not saying the white kid was innocent either. It just seems that both sides of this issue want blood. It’s the whole law of the jungle an eye for an eye… The problem is that neither side of this issue are attacking the problem of legalism. Only one side seems to be doing a deeper job of attacking southern racism.
p



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 24, 2007 at 12:56 pm


It would appear that Bell is not lacking the nerve to be transgressive, so why not be transgressive in a way that has a chance — even if its a slim one — of leading to a positive result and at worst doesn’t end up with him in jail?
Because, in that context, you have to be viewed as strong, that you won’t be “intimidated,” and sometimes “pre-emptive measures” have to be taken. (I’m not justifying that in the least, but it’s beside the point.) It’s important to understand that the hanging of the nooses didn’t start the animosity; it simply made people who don’t live there aware of it. It’s similar to what I said on other threads about Iran and nuclear weapons — people miss the bigger picture.



report abuse
 

Absolutely Sweet Marie

posted September 24, 2007 at 1:03 pm


The thing that really gets me is that the Jena whites who are interviewed by the media are consistently in denial that racism is even a problem in their town. None of them are standing up and saying there should have never been a “white tree” in the first place. Why on earth should a black student have to ask permission to sit under a tree because of his color, in 21st century America?
Instead, those white Jena townsfolk publicly wring their hands about the bad reputation their town is acquiring because of the controversy. Well, my fellow white Americans in the good town of Jena, here’s something for you (ready?): White southern conservatives need to get the oatmeal out of their brains and the lead out of their arses and publicly repent for their racism–the way George Wallace did– and begin working to end it. As long as you act like 19th century bumpkins, the rest of the country WILL laugh at you.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 24, 2007 at 1:29 pm


“As long as you act like 19th century bumpkins, the rest of the country WILL laugh at you.”
The way the media is presenting this, Jena is ground zero in an all out race war, and residents (of both races) have pointed out that this is not the case. All we know about Jena is based on this issue. Everything is race, race, race, which probably seems absurd to the people living there.
If you feel justified in laughing at people of a particular region, and assume that the “rest of the country” is on your side, then you should examine your own presuppositions and bigotry. There is no scripture requiring people to repent on account of where they are born.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 24, 2007 at 2:05 pm


All we know about Jena is based on this issue. Everything is race, race, race, which probably seems absurd to the people living there.
We have a winner! Really, race is the issue in question, as it is througout the South even today but, as Absolutely Sweet Marie said, the whites in Jean are pretty much in denial. However, race wars in this country have always taken place outside the South, as MLK Jr. pretty much kept that from happening.
If you feel justified in laughing at people of a particular region, and assume that the “rest of the country” is on your side, then you should examine your own presuppositions and bigotry.
How often have you been South? And what then gives you the right to make that kind of pronouncement? Many of us understand its history; I’ve been there many times, went to school there briefly and have family who still lives there.



report abuse
 

Mark P (the Yank)

posted September 24, 2007 at 2:56 pm


-Rick, are you exonerating Bell of all guilt or wrongdoing?
“Even at the next level, “activism” isn’t always encouraged to make things right.”
-Are you suggesting that such violence is? Is there a Black Panther sympathizer down in you?
-And, wow, I agree with P’s last post entirely. Good day at the office.
“None of them are standing up and saying there should have never been a “white tree” in the first place. Why on earth should a black student have to ask permission to sit under a tree because of his color, in 21st century America?”
-According to the AP, the reason why the Jena residents are not condemning the “white tree” is because (according to the article) there was NO white tree. I quote:
“The so-called ‘white tree’ at Jena High, often reported to be the domain of only white students, was nothing of the sort, according to teachers and school administrators; students of all races, they say, congregated under it at one time or another.”
[Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070922/ap_on_re_us/a_place_called_jena
Rick, I lived in Pensacola, Florida (often referred to as LA – “Lower Alabama”) for six years. One set of grandparents lived in Alabama for about a decade. My mom’s side ALL live in Alabama, mostly in Montgomery. My mom grew up there, went to one of the first schools desegregated in Alabama. I can say with assurance and personal experience that race is absolutely still a divisive issue in the South.
However, I will also say that it’s not like there are lynchings there anymore… or KKK (in any significant respect, though they still pop up) or Black Panthers (same as KKK)… The issue is absolutely not dead and matters. But as Kevin said, it probably feels ridiculous to the residents of Jena to imply that the place has been some silent racist pocket forever.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 24, 2007 at 3:45 pm


Rick, are you exonerating Bell of all guilt or wrongdoing?
Read my previous posts — you know the answer to that.
Are you suggesting that such violence is? Is there a Black Panther sympathizer down in you?
During the civil-rights movement there were a lot of black folks who wanted to use violence; in fact, during the Montgomery bus boycott a bomb exploded outside a black nightclub for the express purpose of fomenting it — because MLK’s non-violent approach was working quite well. It’s important to note that only a minority of African-Americans at the time supported King’s strategy because they considered it “weak,” and he’s revered today only because it got the job done.
To answer your second question, no, I’m not in the least a “Black Panther sympathizer,” but I understand the anger that would drive folks to fo that way. African-Americans do have the right to be angry over perceived injustices and others’ indifference to such, and unless that anger is given a voice violence is inevitable.
But as Kevin said, it probably feels ridiculous to the residents of Jena to imply that the place has been some silent racist pocket forever.
As some of us have said, they’re thus in denial. However, the Southern Christians I knew some 30 years ago didn’t try to deny it.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 24, 2007 at 3:52 pm


“How often have you been South? And what then gives you the right to make that kind of pronouncement?”
I’ve been there a few times, which has nothing to do with my statement that one should consider whether the country really stands with them in mocking an entire region.



report abuse
 

Mark P (the Yank)

posted September 24, 2007 at 4:18 pm


Rick, understanding and excusing are different matters. I can understand such actions, as I have said multiple times. But I don’t excuse them.



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 24, 2007 at 4:51 pm


I’ve been there a few times, which has nothing to do with my statement that one should consider whether the country really stands with them in mocking an entire region.
I would think that people who have actually lived there or have family that do have a little more authority than you to speak about the subject.
I can understand such actions, as I have said multiple times. But I don’t excuse them.
Oh, I never said they were justified. But if you don’t want something to happen again you have to address the root causes.



report abuse
 

Absolutely Sweet Marie

posted September 24, 2007 at 5:24 pm


Reality check here, Mr. Kevin. There are plenty of Southern whites that have condemned racism, such as the Wallace example I gave, and the many who helped in the civil rights movement, and those who are active in the SPLC, and those who simply refuse to tolerate racist talk from friends and relatives. But you know, to be conservative in the South pretty much means to turn a blind eye to racism if not to actually abet in it. And you may as well not try to deny that. And guess what: I’ve lived in the South all my life, my grandfather was racist, my father stood against racism and for it was shunned by neighbors AND a parent, and in my experience 9 out of 10 white southern conservatives still hold blatantly racist views even if they are now too sophisticated to use the n-word in public. So yes my dear Kevin, I think I’m entitled to tell my fellow white southerners to get a clue.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 24, 2007 at 5:44 pm


“I would think that people who have actually lived there or have family that do have a little more authority than you to speak about the subject.”
They can speak about the subject, but there is quite a difference between that and laughing or mocking the people of an entire region. You can mock blatant racists all you like, but not every southern conservative is one.



report abuse
 

Mark P (the Yank)

posted September 24, 2007 at 8:36 pm


“to be conservative in the South pretty much means to turn a blind eye to racism if not to actually abet in it.”
-That’s ridiculous.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 24, 2007 at 9:18 pm


“-That’s ridiculous.”
And gramatically incorrect. How southern.



report abuse
 

bren

posted September 24, 2007 at 10:13 pm


I heard an interview this morning with the broadcaster in Alexandria, La. who originally broke the story. He described the Jena story as one of justice, not about race per se. Justice would have occurred if the white kids had been charged for the violence they perpetrated (at a party to which a black youth had been invited), and the violence perpetrated when one of the white kids pointed a gun at one of the black kids (when a black kid disarmed the gun-wielding white kid, it was the black kid who was charged), like that. He said that it’s not a question of whether Bell should have been charged, but rather, whether all who committed violence (black and white) had been charged, and charged appropriately.
Furthermore, he called this story the Jena 6 because it reminded him of the story of the Little Rock 4, the four young black girls who tried to go to school in Little Rock, Arkansas. And BTW, tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the event in Little Rock. Although lip service has changed–lot of folks talk the talk–nothing has really changed for black, especially for black men, who are disproportionately charged and imprisoned, not necessarily for events they perpetrated.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 24, 2007 at 10:32 pm


If a reporter broke the story in a manner that intentionally evoked the name of the Little Rock 4, then he is clearly guilty of bias. It is not a reporter’s job to make those sort of comparisons, which might explain why he naturally came to a different conclusion about the facts of the shotgun case (and might have reported his own opinions about the case as fact).



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 24, 2007 at 11:17 pm


Actually, it was the Little Rock Nine, and not all of them were girls.



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted September 24, 2007 at 11:59 pm


Yikes. Got that mixed up with “4 little girls”. If the journalist did as well, then I don’t feel so dumb.



report abuse
 

bren

posted September 25, 2007 at 3:23 am


The reporter’s bias, if any existed, was to ensure that the story was told. After all, the events didn’t happen yesterday! Only when he told the story, did outsiders know about it. And I agree that we outsiders–those who live outside of Jena–needed to know about it if only to realize that there is still lots of work to be done by Christians and others to ensure that justice be done, and be seen to be done.
The error re 4 girls is mine; one of them was also interviewed in the radio broadcast I heard and I clearly mis-heard the number.



report abuse
 

Mark P (the Yank)

posted September 25, 2007 at 2:34 pm


“The reporter’s bias, if any existed, was to ensure that the story was told.”
-In a catchy and factually inaccurate way, apparently, as the AP article on Yahoo and the Jena Times website (both links posted by kevin) both reveal. He either did not do a thorough job fact-checking or deliberately distorted the facts. Whether that was because of bias or an over-enthusiasm to “get the story out” I don’t know and frankly don’t care.



report abuse
 

5

posted September 26, 2007 at 8:02 am


Not only is there almost no coverage by the corporate media of black violent crimes against white people, but in high profile cases they proffer the black criminals as ‘real victims’.
To illustrate the racial bias of the media, imagine if the facts were reversed – if a gang of six white kids led by someone with four previous convictions for violent-crime had attacked a lone black student, kicking and stomping him into unconsciousness. As far as the corporate media are concerned, they would be interviewing the black victim on every TV talk show across the land, discussing his fear, his pain, his suffering. They would be interviewing his crying relatives and friends. They would not be voicing any fear that the white attackers would be treated too harshly, or even that they would be treated at all.
No one knows who hung up those noose, onl that ‘white racists’ lost out the most from it.



report abuse
 

Nana Yaa

posted September 26, 2007 at 10:55 am


To: 5
Re: Your post on 9/26/07 – 8:02 AM
Your position on this issue is Weak!
You make a case based on the hypothetical: “If”
This is because you cannot name one case in which you described where a gang of white kids have attacked a black student and was convicted in this country followed by an outcry in society. You can’t — The media does not cover these stories — the authorities do not prosecute to these kind of cases at the least — not to mention to the fullest extent of the law — you can’t point to any Black District Attorney’s addressing school children in an assembly threatening and intimidating them either — else, if he’d be fired. Whites would not accept this and most certainly would not stand by.
And… it was reported in the “Jena 6″ case that a gang of white kids did jump a black kid and no serious if any action was taken by authorities.
So why — please tell me why do you or any other member in society expect the black families and community to stand by — This is completely UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nana Yaa



report abuse
 

Rick Nowlin

posted September 26, 2007 at 11:01 am


Not only is there almost no coverage by the corporate media of black violent crimes against white people, but in high profile cases they proffer the black criminals as ‘real victims’.
I think the good folks in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Over the Rhine might have had something to say about that a few years ago. The only time that neighborhood had police presence was when white folks were clubbing there, and the cops became somewhat abusive toward the locals, eventually causing a riot. Bottom line, there’s no need for national media to deal with that — they just send more police.



report abuse
 

Nana Yaa

posted September 28, 2007 at 9:52 am


Rick Nowlin and all:
There will continue to be riots and disturbances in neighborhoods, communities, even in our homes and… as we all can see — there are wars going on right now throughout the world… they have not fully reached our shores but it is inevitable… fanatics in this country and abroad are fed up with the way this nation and other rouge nations operate. Unless people take an honest look at those who thrive based on greed and those who perpetuate methods that foster predatory behavior we will never have enough police, military or intelligence to handle what is to come.
FOR OUR CHILDREN’S SAKE — BE HONEST!
IF YOU PROCLAIM TO BE A CHRISTIAN THEN HONOR YOUR BELIEF — JESUS CHRIST IS THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH.
SEEK THE TRUTH IN ALL YOU DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORLD.
FIGHT FOR JUSTICE NOT POLITICS — FREE “JENA 6″
WE ARE ALL OF GOD’S CHILDREN…
Nana Yaa



report abuse
 

Pingback: "sida"

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting God's Politics. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:14:07am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Why I Work for Immigration Reform (by Patty Kupfer)
When I tell people that I work on immigration reform, they usually laugh or say, "way to pick an easy topic." Everyday it feels like there is more fear, more hate. Raids are picking up in Nevada, California, and New York. A number of senators who supported comprehensive reform only a few months ago

posted 12:30:52pm Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Audio: Jim Wallis on "Value Voters" on The Tavis Smiley Show
Last week Jim was on The Tavis Smiley Show and talked about how the changing political landscape will affect the upcoming '08 election. Jim and Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state, debated and discussed both the impact of "value voters" on the election and what those values entail. + Down

posted 10:11:56am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Verse of the Day: 'peace to the far and the near'
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss u

posted 9:35:01am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Daily News Digest (by Duane Shank)
the latest news on Mideast, Iran, Romney-Religious right, Blog action day, Turkey, SCHIP, Iran, Aids-Africa, India, Budget, Brownback-slavery apology, Canada, and selected op-eds. Sign up to receive our daily news summary via e-mail » Blog action day. Thousands of bloggers unite in blitz of green

posted 9:31:25am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.