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Jul 14, 2007

All White Jury Convicts Black Youth in Racially Charged High School Criminal Case

In a small still mostly segregated section of rural Louisiana, an all white jury heard a series of white witnesses called by a white prosecutor testify in a courtroom overseen by a white judge in a trial of a fight at the local high school where a white student who had been making racial taunts was hit by black students.

The fight was the culmination of a series of racial incidents starting when whites responded to black students sitting under the traditionally "white tree" at their school by hanging three nooses from the tree.

The jury quickly convicted Mychal Bell of two felonies - aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery ("with a deadly weapon": his sneakers. Bell, who was a 16 year old sophomore football star at the time he was arrested, faces up to 22 years in prison. Five other black youths await similar trials on attempted second degree murder and conspiracy charges.

Yes, you read that correctly.

It has been called a modern lynching, in part because, according to sources, there was not agreement among the witnesses even to whether Mychal Bell was the one to have hit the white victim, and the victim received no serious injury.

Whites in the community were adamant that there is no racism. "most blacks are happy with the way things are." One person even said "We don't have many problems with our blacks."

READ MORE BELOW, OR JUMP TO THE END FOR 2 SIMPLE ACTIONS WE CAN TAKE NOW...

There is one black police officer in Jena and two black public school teachers.

After the initial noose-hanging incident, black students decided to protest its being given little attention by school authorities. After some unrest among the students…

The white District Attorney came to Jena High with law enforcement officers to address a school assembly; DA admitted threatening the black protesting students saying that if they didn't stop making a fuss about this "innocent prank... I can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."

In an incident similar to the one on trial, a black student was beaten and hit in the head with a beer bottle at a party…

On Monday, December 4, at Jena High, a white student - who allegedly had been making racial taunts, including calling African American students "niggers" while supporting the students who hung the nooses and who beat up the black student at the off-campus party - was allegedly knocked down, punched and kicked by black students. The white victim was taken to the hospital treated and released. He attended a social
function that evening.

Six black Jena students were arrested and charged with attempted second degree murder. All six were expelled from school. Many stayed in jail for months, awaiting trail.

Mychal Bell remained in jail from December 2006 until his trial (May)because his family was unable to post the $90,000 bond sufficient money to put up bonds.

When it finally came, the trial of Mychal Bell was swift.

What happened to the white guys? The white victim of the beating was later arrested for bringing a hunting rifle loaded with 13 bullets onto the high school campus and released on $5000 bond. The white man who beat up the black youth at the off-campus party was arrested and charged with simple battery, a misdemeanor.

OK, HERE IS WHERE WE GET TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE:

Remember that if you forward this to 5 people, and get each of them to do the same, you reach 3,125 people in 5 steps.

1) FORWARD this to 5 people (or even 1 if 5 seems too much…)

2) SIGN the petition here:
http://www.petitiononline.com/aZ51CqmR/petition.html

3) Make a phone call, if you feel like it:
To the District Attorney's Office in Jena: (001) 318 - 992 - 8282.

- Remember, this has not been covered much in the U.S., so we can help get the word out….

- Mychal Bell, 17, will be sentenced July 31; he may be going to jail until age 40

- see section: You Want to Really Get Pissed?
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/7/3/151941/8097

- If anyone wants to show their outrage to LA Senators:

Senator Mary Landrieu Phone:(202) 224-5824
Senator David Vittner Phone:(202) 224-4623

- ACLU of Louisiana www.laaclu.org or 417.350.0536.

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