Friday, September 21, 2007


The horror of the Jena 6 case is that The System Is Not Broken It is working exactly How Most White Americans Expect It to- gord

It is sad how little coverage the Jena 6 case has gotten in the Canadian Press & media - even the CBC has barely covered the case though they did a number of stories on Muslim Canadian women wearing the full veil or burqas as Islamophobia takes hold in our country which is just another form of racism 0r, religious intolerance , nativism, & the belief in the Status Quo -

Sam Cooke - A Change is Gonna Come

Billie Holiday- Strange Fruit
This song should remind us that a noose hung over a tree in the front of a school or in the town square fills one with fear & terror & repulsion - maybe there are still those who don't get it - that is is a symbol of hatred - & the Jena 6 case shows us that there are still those whites in America who believe that the outlawing of lynching was a plot by the US Federal government against the South -

alternet blogs
Jena Six: Thousands to Rally for Justice Posted by Pam Spaulding at 6:09 AM on September 20, 2007.

Pam Spaulding: Elizabeth Edwards, David Bowie, Chris Dodd and thousands of other supporters have rallied to their cause.

Elizabeth Edwards spoke today at a send-off rally in Columbia, SC for those departing by bus to the rally in Jena. John Edwards released this statement:

"As someone who grew up in the segregated South, I feel a special responsibility to speak out on racial intolerance. To measure our progress in the fight against racism, today our nation looks to Jena, Louisiana. Americans of all races are traveling to Jena because they believe that how we respond to the racial tensions in Jena says everything about who we are as a nation.

"When a 'white tree' stands outside a public school, marking a place where white students sit but black students are not welcome, there is something so wrong that the right words are hard to find. When children have learned to intimidate each other with age-old, hateful symbols of racial terror, we are reminded that we cannot take progress for granted. And we must turn to the larger truth: that we still have two criminal justice systems in this country -- largely defined by race and class.

"Fortunately, we also still have in this country the desire for racial justice, understanding and tolerance. I am hopeful that justice will be served, these young Americans can look to the future, and the community of Jena will find peace."

And as this next article points out when white kids are treated unjustly by police & the courts it is news but when those kids are black it is often ignored by the media who are complicit in these racist attitudes:

Susan Madrak By The Color Of Their Skins September 20, 2007

...I was shocked when a Taser incident involving a white college student was given so much attention this week with so little context: Namely, that minorities

It's not so important when it happens to black people because of the unspoken assumption most white people are still privileged to hold: "They must have done something to deserve it."

I know better. I grew up in a working-class, blue collar Philadelphia neighborhood. The boys in my neighborhood (including my own brothers) were forever being beaten up by cops; it was a fact of life. I know that whatever rationale the cops claimed, they really beat them up for some variation on the same reason: Because I can and there's nothing you can do about it. "Deserved" it? Yeah, if you can call not being able to read a cop's mind and know just how quick of a hair-trigger he had that minute a crime. Excuse me, officer, but have you gotten laid recently? Any money troubles? Kids okay?

And so white people - people who never had to worry about real-life police brutality - just tune it out. It doesn't seem logical to them, that cops and elected officials would simply treat a black kid differently for no reason other than the color of their skin. After all, they're always so polite to them.

The legacy of Southern Racism is still alive at the core of Southern American culture:

Huffington Post Byron Williams: Old-Fashioned Southern Justice in the Modern South
September 20, 2007

After a two-day trial, in which Bell's public defender called no witnesses, the all-white jury originally found him guilty of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery for his role in the beating of a white male classmate who participated in last year's racial incident. The victim spent roughly one hour in a local hospital.

Bell and five of his fellow African American high school students, ranging from 15 to 17 years of age, are facing lifetimes behind bars for a schoolyard fight incident. In total, these young men could be sentenced to up to 100 years in prison, with charges of attempted murder.

Bails were set from $70,000 to $138,000; and coming from low-income families has resulted in these six young men languishing behind bars when the should be enjoying their final years of adolescents.

This case centers on a tree. Not just any tree, but a tree at the high school, known as the "white tree," which was symbolically labeled for white students only.

According to reports, an African American student, new to the area, asked permission from school administrators to sit under the infamous tree. Permission was granted, and the next day three nooses, draped in the school's colors, were hanging from the tree.

The school's principal recommended expulsion for the three white students responsible. The school superintendent overruled the expulsion and gave the students a three-day suspension for "an adolescent prank."

A school prank, perhaps. I am more accustomed to rolls of toilet paper on someone's house or car, I would like to think reasonable people could agree that a hung noose on a tree crosses the line of acceptability.

The barbaric legacy of legally sanctioned injustice that courses through the veins of every African American, in particularly those living in the South, makes the nooses hung from the school tree echo with the melodic sounds of Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit."

It is a haunting reminder of a less favorable moment in 20th century American history when black people were lynched on average every three days spanning over a 25-year period.

Thousands from all over the country have descended on Jena in support of these six young men. Their glaring absurdity, however, is but the tip of the iceberg that reaches several fathoms below the surface of justice.

According to the Urban League:

• America presently incarcerates more than 10,000 youth in adult prisons.

• African American men are three times more likely than white men to face jail once they have been arrested in the United States.

• 24.4 percent of African Americans arrested in 2005 ended up in jail, compared with 8.3 percent of white men.

• African American men receive jail sentences on average 15 percent longer than white men convicted of the same crime.

The "Jena 6" case serves as a microcosm of the Urban League's findings. Instead of calling them the "Jena 6" perhaps the "American 6" would be more appropriate.

I know justice is blind but you would think she could see the injustice in this case from miles away.

And once again we see racism is alive & well even if those in power including the media do not wish to speak about it or liberals like to pretend its a thing of the past:

Etan Thomas and Dave ZirinRacism, Hatred and Southern Justice are Alive and Well in Jena, Louisiana September 12, 2007

"Outsiders need to stay away." That's what Billy Fowler of the school board in Jena, Louisiana, said about those who have raised concerns about the sentencing imposed on six African American boys -- ages 15-17 -- facing 100 years in prison.

Outsiders are always what people in the South have called those who challenge racism. But the story of Jena is not an outsider/insider story. It's a story about the worst tradition of what is known as Southern Justice. And like in the days of Jim Crow, it's a story where any shades of grey matter far less than black and white.

The issue by now has become well known: discussed on CNN and in the pages of USA Today. At Jena High School, a black student received permission from school authorities to sit underneath what was known as "the white tree" (remarkable that he felt he had to ask!) The next day, in retribution, three nooses hung from the branches, threats that they would soon be harvesting "strange fruit."

In protest black students collectively decided to sit under the tree. This a bold and beautiful act in the spirit of the best traditions of the '60s. They refused to comply with racist terror, even when those threats are as drastic as being lynched for simply not staying in your place.

And just like in the old South, the state made clear which side it was on. The town DA, Reid Walters, actually had the audacity to threaten only the black students, telling them that he had the power to ruin their lives with the stroke of his pen if they continued to make trouble.

Tensions escalated over the course of the semester. Two black students were beaten by a white student while another group of black students were threatened with a shotgun by a former classmate. Surprisingly, none of the white students or former students were punished in any way for these incidents.

But the following Monday when a white student was beaten up by six black classmates, they were immediately arrested and charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder, charges that would put them in jail for 100 years without parole. The Jena 6 ranges in age from 15-17. The white student spent three hours in a hospital emergency room and required no further medical care.

Mychall Bell was the first student tried. He was represented by a public defender that called no witness, and was quickly convicted by an all-white jury, white judge, and now faces up to 22 years in prison.

Recently, in response to a public outcry about the case, prosecutors have announced that charges against Shaw and Jones had been reduced to lesser felonies. But the need to be heard on this continues. Two other students, Robert Bailey Jr. and Bryant Purvis, still await trial for attempted murder. Bell's conviction has been allowed to stand even though the judge ruled he had been improperly convicted in an adult court when he should have been tried as a juvenile. Shaw and Jones still face years in prison.

As Billy Hunter, the head of the National Basketball Player's association, said:

"The situation in Jena, Louisiana is abominable and rotten to the core. The actions of the District Attorney demonstrate that "racism and bigotry are live and well in Jena ." As a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California and Assistant Chief in the S.F. District Attorney's Office, it is my opinion that the District Attorney's has severely overcharged the case revealing his bias against the six black Jena youth. His actions should serve as a wake-up call for all Americans who believe in an impartial and fair criminal justice system."

This is a case that should outrage any individual regardless of the color of their skin. When the justice system can be a direct symbol of racism, injustice and terror, the very moral fiber of our society is threatened. This is not a time for neutrality. Insiders and so-called outsiders will be marching in Jena on September 20th. We will also be circulating a statement in the world of sports for those who choose to support the efforts to have the charges against the Jena 6 dismissed. The simple truth is that when it comes to issues of basic justice, there are no such thing as "outsiders."

The symbols of racism like a burning cross or men clad in white hoods & the lynch-mobs noose are seen as trivial by many whites while Blacks in America feel repulsion & fear & can be terrorized by these symbols of hatred but then again the Bush Regime isn't interested in Home Grown terrorists such as the White Supremacists -

Trey Ellis:The Jena 6 Case is History Written in Lightning September 19, 2007

What white Southerners still fail to realize is their complicity in some of the most vicious and effective terrorism the world has ever seen. Lynchings were only the most visible and brutal embodiments of a system to terrorize the black minority. A noose is a symbol the way a swastika is a symbol. A noose hanging from a tree in that context is an almost unimaginably vicious act. Those white teens, instead of being ashamed of their terrorist ancestry, reveled in the evil. The adults who are charged with the education of all the students deemed it merely a prank.

The scariest part of this ordeal is that you know these boys are the relatively lucky ones for whom publicity might spare them. How many other black lives are still thrown away at the whim of our broken justice system?

take care,

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