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Sep 23, 2007

After the Jena 6 March, Now What?

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by The Francis L. Holland Afrospear Blog, via the Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP)

Here's an interview with the AfroSpear's Shawn Williams, Dallas South Blog, that will appear in the Dallas Morning News (largest daily in Dallas) this Saturday.

Like many public events these days, this week's Jena rally came together largely through the efforts of bloggers. One of them was Dallas resident Shawn Williams, 33, who helped spread the word through his Dallas South Blog (www.dallassouthblog.com) .

In an e-mail interview with The Dallas Morning News Friday, the pharmaceutical salesman and member of Friendship-West Baptist Church reflected on his blog and the Jena rally:

The News: Give us the background on the Dallas South Blog. Did you create it? What is its aim?

Mr. Williams: I started Dallas South Blog 15 months ago as a way of expressing myself, but as the site has evolved, the goal is to promote positive images of African-Americans to contrast the negative images put forth daily in the popular press.

The News: Have you been involved in other civil rights movements or protests before?

Mr. Williams: I think the movement is ongoing. Since college I have been aligned with these types of issues in some form or fashion, but most recently I worked to rid our neighborhood of a sexually oriented business that was being built in walking distance of a charter school.

The News: What was your role in this week?s trip to Louisiana?

Mr. Williams: Besides helping to get 1,000 folks that left from our church on the right bus, I was just a participant. I marched, I listened, I shouted, but mostly, I was there in support of the young men who stand accused.

The News: Did you network with other bloggers?

Mr. Williams: I am a member of the Afrosphere Bloggers Association . We had day of Blogging for Justice on August 30th, where many of us blogged about Jena at the same time.

The News: How will Thursday's event advance the civil rights movement?

Mr. Williams: No one can answer that. I am hopeful that the African-American community will commit to seeking justice and equality for the long hall. Cases like this happen all over the United States. We must use this energy to highlight injustice and to take responsibility for our own community and our own future.


End story by The Francis L. Holland Afrospear Blog, via the Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP)

The latest: Bail was denied Friday for a black teenager whose arrest in the beating of a black classmate led to this week's huge civil rights demonstration in the central Louisiana town of Jena, according to the father of one of his co-defendants. The bond hearing for Mychal Bell, one of the group known as the Jena Six, was held this afternoon in a juvenile court in Jena. Lawyers would not comment because juvenile court proceedings are secret. But John Jenkins, the father of one of Bell's codefendants, said Bell's bail request was denied. Bell's mother left the courthouse in tears and refused to comment. A man accompanying her said, "Denied" as they walked out.

Source: AP

Francis says: Just as Governor Orvil Faubus tried to bar the doors to the desegregation of Arkansas High Schools a half century ago, even in the face of a Federal Court order to desegregate, so the Jena courts seem to be in full revolt against the wisdom of the Louisiana 3rd District Appeals Court. The Junvenile Court, like Jena itself, is intransigent and unreconstructed.

In the AfroSpear, we've got to hang that town with its own nooses in the court of public opinion.

When an appeals court orders overturns a conviction, and then orders a lower court to hold a bail hearing, the appeals court is normally saying, "Let this person go, or at least set bail that the person is able to make." But appeals courts don't say that directly. They give the hint to the lower court, so that the lower court can maitain its dignity by coming to the right conclusion after a nudging.

In this case, the Jena local courts don't listen to nudges, even when the come from higher courts whose decisions are the law of the land, and whose suggestions and guidance are meant to be heeded.

If I could read the decision of the Third District Court of Louisiana, I could make this argument more effectively, based on that Court's own ruling of last week.

In any case, now we got to turn up the heat, emphasizing in our blogs that the Jena local courts are in full revolt from the Louisiana justice system and demanding federal intervention (which seems to be coming in the form of Congressman Conyer's Justice Committee hearings, which will increase the national focus and pressure.

We've got to turn this case into a trial of justice in Jena and of justice in America itself, demanding to know, in various forums, what America will do to right this injustice.

5 comments:

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Thanks for running this article, Adrianne. I have read the four decisions of the Appeals Court (Howard Witt provided the URL) and today I am going to write an analysis of the situation and send it out over the Afrosphere Associated Press.

When you run articles from the Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP), please be sure to list the author's name (there will be many different Afrosphere authors) and Afrosphere group membership, as well as the fact that the article was received over the Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP), for example, "by The Francis L. Holland Afrospear Blog, via the Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP)."

Thanks, Adrianne! I'm loving this!

Black Woman in Europe said...

Francis, I added the following before and after your story: by The Francis L. Holland Afrospear Blog, via the Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP).

It must have come out when I modified the HTML so that the layout would fit my blog, SORRY!

Keep the stories coming.

Average American said...

I'm 40 years old, I grew up going to completely integrated schools in the deep south. Therefore, I am familiar with situations of racial tensions that are very common in the public schools of the south.

First, I believe the consideration of one's race has no place at all in seeking justice, with the exception of hate crimes specifically perpetrated because of race.

In this situation, if race is not considered, then you have one person who was attacked from behind by a group of 6 people. This means without a doubt that the attackers had premeditated their attack which is demonstrated by their surprise attack with greatly overwhelming numbers. It is my understanding that the victim was quickly rendered unconscious and the attack continued whereby the attackers kicked the unconscious victim repeatedly.

There is no question this was a very malicious premeditated attack with intent and capability to do great bodily harm, to include death. I personally know of a person who was knocked unconscious and then kicked until he died, so "a shoe" is a deadly weapon when used in this circumstance.

So, with race out of the picture there is an attempted murder to seek justice for.

Has there been justice for this attempted murder?

Oh, but you say race must be considered. Ok, then this was clearly a hate crime where these 6 blacks attacked and tried to kill this one white, so the much heavier penalties associated with hate crimes must be levied.

To suggest the incident with fake nuces being hung out of a tree somehow justify this attack is the very same thing as saying that because Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exercised his right to free speech it was justifiable to murder him! That’s crazy right? Well that’s this case in reverse.

We all know how it works, there will be no justice here or anywhere Al or Jessie chose to spin the truth. They have done more in their life time to increase racial hatred than any other people I can think of. You can not seek equality and justice by perpetrating the exact opposite.

Ever since those race riots in California after that drug-head had his run-in with the police, things have been skewed dangerously allowing inequality and injustice to go unchallenged. OJ's free, Mayer of DC was a drug-head, the Duke Lacrosse team was wrongly prosecuted, and now this victim is laid on the alter of vanity that stands at the feet of these so called "civil rights leaders" who only seek the spotlight for their own glory. My question is this: How is it that so many black people care so little for truth? With the turnout at the Jena march it suggests there is a huge disparity in understanding that exists between the black population and the rest of America.

America needs to wake up and say enough, the 60's are over, let's get on with life, racial favor for any reason is over. A person stands on their own merit, and answers for their own actions.

Black Women in Europe said...

Teen in Jena case gets out of jail


By Howard Witt

Tribune senior correspondent

7:46 PM CDT, September 27, 2007

HOUSTON

Mychal Bell, the black teenager whose incarceration in a racially explosive case helped draw tens of thousands of civil rights protesters to the tiny Deep South town of Jena, La., last week, was released from jail on Thursday after more than nine months behind bars.

Bell, 17, one of six black teenagers charged with the beating of a white classmate at Jena High School last December, was freed after a local judge abruptly set a bond of $45,000, which a local bail bonding firm quickly posted on Bell's behalf.

The youth's release capped a day of mounting political and judicial pressures in a case that has drawn condemnation from scores of national civil rights leaders concerned about perceived inequalities in the town's justice system.

"We still have mountains to climb, but at least this is closer to an even playing field," said Rev. Al Sharpton, who helped organize last week's massive protest and accompanied Bell as he walked out of jail. "He goes home because a lot of people left their home and stood up for him."

In Washington, the Congressional Black Caucus asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate possible civil rights violations and prosecutorial misconduct in the Jena 6 case.

"This shocking case has focused national and international attention on what appears to be an unbelievable example of the separate and unequal justice that was once commonplace in the Deep South," the group of 43 lawmakers said in a letter to Acting Atty. Gen. Peter Keisler.

A Justice Department spokesman said investigations into the case were ongoing but declined to comment further.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana district attorney whose prosecution of the Jena 6 defendants sparked the civil rights protest declared that only through the intervention of Jesus Christ was Jena spared from a "disaster" last week when more than 20,000 African American demonstrators marched peacefully through the town.

"I firmly believe that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened," LaSalle Parish District Atty. Reed Walters told a nationally televised press conference.

When a black Jena pastor attending the press conference called it a "shame" that the prosecutor was crediting divine intervention for the orderly behavior of the demonstrators, Walters, who is white, said: "What I'm saying is, the Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people, and they responded accordingly."

The six-hour march on Sept. 20 drew families from across the nation who rode buses for hours to protest perceived racial discrimination in the mostly-white town of 3,000 people. The demonstration was completely nonviolent; state and local authorities confirmed that they made no arrests and received no reports of property damage.

Walters insisted that he had treated all of the Jena 6 defendants "fairly and with dignity" but said he would not relent in his prosecution of the youths for aggravated second-degree battery in the beating of Justin Barker, a 17-year-old white classmate.

The attack on Barker followed months of racial unrest in the town sparked after three white students hung nooses from a tree at the high school in an apparent warning aimed at black students not to try to sit beneath its shade. In a series of ensuing racial fights both on and off the campus, white students who attacked black students were charged with misdemeanors or not at all, but the six black youths who jumped Barker and knocked him briefly unconscious were initially charged by Walters with attempted murder.

Bell was the first of the teenagers to go to trial. One of the remaining five has been charged as a juvenile, three others await trial as adults and one youth has yet to be arraigned.

Walters said Thursday he had not been swayed by the demonstrators or the attention the case has attracted. But his prosecution of the case has not been smooth.

On the eve of Bell's trial in June, as national scrutiny mounted after a Tribune report about the case in May, Walters abruptly reduced the attempted-murder charges to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy. He won a conviction before an all-white jury after Bell's original court-appointed defense attorney called no witnesses and presented no defense.

But the appellate court vacated that conviction on Sept. 14, ruling that both Walters and LaSalle Parish District Judge J.P. Mauffray had erred in allowing Bell to be prosecuted as an adult rather than a juvenile.

Walters confirmed Thursday that he had decided not to go through with an appeal of the appellate decision and would instead refile the charges against Bell in juvenile court. That decision cleared the way for Bell's release on bond after Mauffray, who last week refused to set bail for Bell, quickly set the new bond just hours before the appellate court was expected to rule on a defense request that Mauffray be compelled to release Bell.

Had he been convicted as an adult, Bell could have faced up to 15 years in prison. If convicted as a juvenile, he can be held until he turns 21.

Walters' decision not to press for Bell's prosecution as an adult followed an intervention by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who had declined for months to get directly involved in the Jena case.

On Wednesday evening, Blanco emerged from a meeting with Sharpton in Baton Rouge, declaring to the protesters who had marched through Jena that "I share your concerns."

Blanco added: "The Louisiana justice system is designed to correct itself when necessary...The juvenile court system is where this case belongs."

One of Bell's new defense attorneys, Robert Noel, said he was certain that political pressures were having an effect on the case.

"The tide has been turning since we won that [reversal] on Sept. 14," Noel said. "I think Walters is under tremendous pressure. There's not a single district attorney in the state that doesn't want to see this whole thing go away. They are concerned about jury nullification in their own cases--they don't want the system to be seen as so unfair that potential jurors are not going to be willing vote guilty."

hwitt@tribune.com

Black Women in Europe said...

Got this great press release from Francis:

Afrosphere Blogs, Marches, Lawyers and Mainstream Media Pressure Win Victory in the Jena Six Case!

RE: Afrosphere press releases in the Jena Six Case

I am encouraging all of the AfroSpear and afrosphere bloggers who have talked to members of the press about this case to call those contacts and offer a statement for articles about this victory:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

1). “AfroSpear bloggers and our audiences will continue to assert our role as forceful advocates of equal justice for Blacks in the American justice system.”
2. "Although the charges against Mychal D. Bell have been reduced, it still is not equal justice when a Black student receives an eighteen month prison sentence while the white students are not penalized at all for their offenses."
3). "We will continue to insist that ALL ADULT AND JUVENILE CHARGES AGAINST ALL 6 DEFENDANTS be dropped and foreclosed for the future, and that de jure and de facto segregation be ended at Jena High School."

4). "This victory shows that Blacks armed with blogs can confront injustice and win."
5). "We have to ask ourselves whether the final result in this criminal case is what it would have been if Mychal D. Bell were white. We know that it isn't. Black young people in Jena should not go to jail while white students commit the same acts with impunity."

6). "This is still not equal justice, because white students who committed armed assault, and terroristic acts in this case still have not been charged at all." (One white person confronted Black students with a firearm at a variety store, and white students hung three nooses on school grounds and were not criminally charged at all.)


Sincerely,

Francis L. Holland, Esq.
AfroSpear Blogger

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