‘Jena 6’ protest held at Louisiana town

 

‘Jena 6’ protesters rally at Louisiana town

Marchers support black teens who were charged with attempted murder

IMAGE: MARCH ON JENA

Frank Franklin II / AP
Supporters of six black teens initially charged with attempted murder march through Jena, La., on Thursday.

NBC video

Thousands march
Sept. 20: Protestors came Jena, La., where six black teens face charges. Martin Savidge reports.

Nightly News

Slide show

Focus on Jena
Activists descend on a Louisiana town in support of six black teens accused of beating a white classmate.

‘Jena 6’ case
Thousands show support for ‘Jena 6’
Sept. 20: Thousands of people march in support of six black teenagers initially charged with attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate. NBC’s Leanne Gregg reports.

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Race & Ethnicity

 

JENA, La. – Thousands of chanting demonstrators filled the streets of this little Louisiana town Thursday in support of six black teenagers initially charged with attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate.

The crowd broke into chants of “Free the Jena Six” as the Rev. Al Sharpton arrived at the local courthouse with family members of the jailed teens.

Sharpton told the Associated Press that he and Reps. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and William Jefferson, D-La., will press the House Judiciary Committee next week to summon the district attorney to explain his actions before Congress.

This could be the beginning of a 21st century’s civil rights movement to challenge disparities in the justice system, Sharpton said, adding that he planned a November march in Washington.

“What we need is federal intervention to protect people from Southern injustice,” Sharpton told the AP. “Our fathers in the 1960’s had to penetrate the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. We have to do the same thing.”

The six black teens were charged a few months after three white teens were accused of hanging nooses in a tree at their high school. The white teens were suspended from school but weren’t prosecuted. Five of the black teens were initially charged with attempted murder. That charge was reduced to battery for all but one, who has yet to be arraigned; the sixth was charged as a juvenile.

The beating victim, Justin Barker, was knocked unconscious, his face badly swollen and bloodied, though he was able to attend a school function later that night.

Thousands march through streets
Thursday morning, thousands of demonstrators clad in black converged on the local courthouse and a nearby park to protest the disparity in the charged teenagers’ treatment. Thousands more marched along city streets in what at times took on the atmosphere of a giant festival — with people setting up tables of food and some dancing to the beat of a drum.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke to one crowd. Dennis Courtland Hayes, interim president and CEO of the NAACP, was also there.

“People are saying, ‘That’s enough, and we’re not taking it any more,”’ Hayes said.

Martin Luther King III, son of the slain civil rights leader, described the scene as reminiscent of earlier civil rights struggles. He said punishment of some sort may be in order for the six defendants, but “the justice system isn’t applied the same to all crimes and all people.”

DA: Race has nothing to do with charges
District Attorney Reed Walters, who is prosecuting the case, said Wednesday that race had nothing to do with the charges.

NBC video

Why are protestors coming to Jena?
Sept. 20: NBC’s Mike Taibbi looks for answers among the thousands who came to a six-stoplight town in Louisiana.

Nightly News

He said he didn’t charge the white students accused of hanging the nooses because he could find no Louisiana law under which they could be charged. In the beating case, he said, four of the defendants were of adult age under Louisiana law and the only juvenile charged as an adult, Mychal Bell, had a prior criminal record.

“It is not and never has been about race,” Walters said. “It is about finding justice for an innocent victim and holding people accountable for their actions.”

Bell, 16 at the time of the December attack, is the only one of the “Jena Six” to be tried so far. He was convicted on an aggravated second-degree battery count that could have sent him to prison for 15 years, but the conviction was overturned last week when a state appeals court said he should not have been tried as an adult.

Quote

‘Jena 6’ protest held at Louisiana town – Race & Ethnicity – MSNBC.com

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