I don't live in the South and when I happen to be in the South it's usually DisneyWorld in Orlando Florida, but I do know that things do not happen in a vacuum. At first blush, it appears there are two related events:
The first event, 30 Aug 2006, during a high school assembly a black student asked the principal if black kids could sit underneath the 'white tree' in the town square where whites traditionally congregated. The next day, three white kids hung two (some say three) nooses from the same tree.
It doesn't take much imagination to see how inflammatory that gesture was. The principal expelled the white students, but the school superintendent overrode that decision, instead giving them 3 day suspensions. I believe the expulsions were too severe but that the 3 day suspensions were much too light. Mr. Walters, the white prosecutor, says the students who hung the nooses could not be prosecuted because there was no law against it. But, he added, "The people that did it should be ashamed of what they unleashed on this town."
If I were a Southern black perhaps execution for the white students would make me feel better. It seems as a society we tend to over-react to everything.
The second event, 4 Dec 2006, in what the authorities described as the most violent attacks in Jena High School's history, 6 black kids beat up a white kid in the school hallway. The white boy ends up in the hospital, is treated, and released a few hours later although he continues to complain of pain later. The six black kids are charged with attempted second degree murder. What would white boys have been charged with? Second degree battery I suspect. If I were Southern White perhaps execution for the black students would make me feel better.
I have to tell you that the charges are too extreme for a high school fight. What's missing between the two events is not just a few months but years of whites getting the soft treatment and blacks getting the shaft. Just looking at the disparity of treatment given to whites and blacks in these two events, I have no doubt that this is one of the times when a massive protest is indeed warranted to force the town of Jena to face the fact that they are still mired in the bigoted attitudes of the antebellum South.
I'm not for freeing them, but the Jena 6 should be charged with the same sentences they would have given to whites. How to determine that? Simple: find a case in Jena where whites beat up a black and give the Jena 6 THOSE charges. As for Mychal Bell, his previous felony convictions should be taken into account.
Sadly Al Sharpton, who wants these boys completely freed, has to get his nose into this affair: "Honestly, Im not mad at these 6 bruthas. At that age, I probably wouldve beat the shit outta those kids as well. Now that Im older, I know how to do it and not get caught."
You know what would be interesting is that we phrase the question this way to Al Sharpton: "Listen Rev, 6 white students kicked a black student unconscious, what sentence should we give the white students?" And then give the black students that sentence.
Sigh. I am not surprised at the media whoring Jesse Jackson — he criticized Barack Obama for not speaking out more forcefully on the Jena 6."If I were a candidate, I'd be all over Jena," Jackson was quoted as saying. "Jena is a defining moment, just like Selma was a defining moment." By not seizing on the issue more, Obama was "acting like he's white," the paper quoted Jackson as saying. Jackson, who endorsed Obama in March, today denied making that last comment, while The State stood by its reporting.
Kansas City Star,
Lessons from Jena, La.
Reed Walters, the Jena district attorney, is being accused of racism because he didn’t show Bell compassion when the teenager was brought before the court for the third time on assault charges in a two-year span.
Where was our compassion long before Bell got into this kind of trouble?
That’s the question that needed to be asked in Jena and across the country on Thursday. But it wasn’t asked because everyone has been lied to about what really transpired in the small southern town.
There was no "schoolyard fight” as a result of nooses being hung on a whites-only tree.
Justin Barker, the white victim, was cold-cocked from behind, knocked unconscious and stomped by six black athletes. Barker, luckily, sustained no life-threatening injuries and was released from the hospital three hours after the attack.
Reynolds and Balko on the "Jena 6″Three months prior to [the "Jena 6″] attack, Bell committed two violent crimes while on probation for a battery Christmas Day 2005, according to testimony.... Bell was adjudicated — the juvenile equivalent to a conviction — of battery Sept. 2 and criminal damage to property Sept. 3, said Cynthia Bradford, LaSalle Parish deputy clerk.As a prosecutor, I can tell you that the most important factors in the treatment of any criminal defendant are (1) the seriousness of the current offense, and (2) the nature of the defendant’s prior criminal history — with a special focus on similar actions.
It is not a "minor” detail that a person charged with a violent crime has a criminal history, including four previous violent crimes.