The Jena 6 Are Not Economically Viable

Racism remains one of the most confounding and damaging aspects of life in the United States and few issues contain such a vast difference of opinion. Some people seem to believe all racist thought has been thoroughly eradicated, while others are bound and determined to seek it out in all situations, whether warranted or not. There are unrepentant racists, loudly proclaiming their ignorance at every opportunity, while others coolly attempt to conceal it, only letting loose under duress. Despite this, I was under the impression that racial segregation was a thing of the past, similar to scurvy or trephining as a medical procedure. Surely this cruel and unnecessary social control has no place in the 21st century?

Recent events sickeningly suggest otherwise. Right now in Jena, Lousiana six black youths are suffering continued abasement thanks to the local judicial system. The events read like some sort of dystopian science fiction; in fall 2006, a black student requested permission to sit under the so called white tree, a spot on campus informally delineated by white students. School officials granted permission (as though they had a choice; segregation has been illegal since the 1960s) and the next day the student body was treated to the sight of three nooses, proudly ablaze in school colors, hanging from the aforementioned tree. Predictably, things grew worse from there.

When the Jena high school principal suggested that the perpetrators be expelled, he was overruled by superintendent Roy Breithaupt. Breithaupt recommended only a three day suspension and when black students protested, obviously aghast at the lax punishment doled out, they were allegedly threatened by the LaSalle Parish DA. At a school assembly DA Reed Walters claimed to be capable of ruining the lives of anyone making trouble over what he termed an “adolescent prank.” That December, a flurry of conflicts set in motion the most troubling events thus far. A black youth was attacked by a gang of white kids at a party. Those responsible received no punishment. A white man pulled a loaded rifle on a group of black men at a convenience store. When one of the men wrestled the weapon away from the assailant, he was arrested and charged with felony theft (conversely, the white man received on a $5,000 fine for carrying a loaded weapon). At another party, a group of black students attacked Justin Barker, a fellow student frequently named as an instigator in many of the events leading up to this altercation. Barker was taken to the hospital, released the same day and even felt well enough to attend a party later that night. The six youths arrested for beating him were charged with second degree attempted murder and each faced up to100 years in prison.

So far, only one of the six has been to trial. Mychal Bell refused a plea bargain and was convicted of the reduced charge of second degree aggravated battery, which entails assault with a lethal weapon. Bell ’s lethal weapon consisted of a shoe. Apparently in Louisiana a black teenager with a shoe is more dangerous than a white man with a loaded rifle. Bell faces a possible sentence of 22 years and is awaiting an appeal. The remaining members of the now named Jen 6 are awaiting trial.

Rumors of corruption during the proceedings abound. Bell ’s court appointed district attorney called no witnesses in his defense, nor did he dispute the selection of Bell ’s all white jury. In addition, some members of the randomly selected jury had uncomfortably close ties to either the DA or several witnesses, one of whom was actually related to a juror. The overwhelming sentiment from officials seems to be that justice was amply served and it’s best to put all this unpleasantness behind us.

Adding insult to injury, this story has made nary a blip on the national news. The Jena 6 have received more thorough coverage from the international press, who no doubt use the situation to illustrate US’s waning moral authority. These are the same news outlets that relentlessly pummeled the public with hourly updates in Don Imus and the irreparable damage he supposedly caused, yet no one can be bothered with what is akin to a giant step backward in our social evolution.

There is no quick and easy solution for the plight of these young men. No sound bites, nor symbolic funerals, nor peaceful vigils can help them now. No amount of hand wringing or rhetoric will afford them the fair trial they obviously deserve. Consider that many of the citizens of Jena feel that nothing untoward has transpired at all. Many echoed the sentiments of the school superintendent and labeled those responsible for the initial hanging of the nooses as typical adolescent pranksters. A noose portends some dark things, especially in the south, where black men and women were not so long ago hanged with great frequency for often manufactured crimes. In light of this, I would not be so hasty to dismiss the appearance of three nooses as a mere prank.

* The Jena 6 petition

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco contact info:

PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge , LA 70804 -9004
Phone: (225) 342-0991

Stacie Adams is an unassuming and introverted young woman with plans to take over the world and make it tolerable. Her heroes are few, but precious: Bill Hicks, Nat Turner, Orson Welles, and Hunter S. Thompson. She detests useless celebrity, bureaucracy, and unfettered stupidity. "I am disgustingly provincial and I’ve never stepped foot outside the US, but it is my dream to travel the world. My favorite beer is Red Stripe, my favorite movie Irreversible. I’ve seen Evil Dead 2 over 100 times. I am an encyclopedia of trivial facts and figures." She can be reached at: Read other articles by Stacie, or visit Stacie's website.

22 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. mutterhals said on August 1st, 2007 at 10:28am #

    In the third to last paragraph it should read “Bell ’s court appointed attorney” minus the district. My apologies…

  2. Deadbeat said on August 1st, 2007 at 11:36am #

    Zionism should also be included in the topic of racism. There is really no difference since racism (the ideology of supremacy) is at its the core. When that connection is made then people will be able to better resist its affect on U.S. policy.

  3. Lila Rajiva said on August 4th, 2007 at 10:08am #

    Is that actually so, though? I was under the impression that Zionism was the movement to provide a homeland for the Jews – given the history of Jews in Europe. I understand that there can be forms for Jewish exceptionalism that are racist, but Zionism as such does not necessarily connote that.

  4. Karlin Klavin said on August 6th, 2007 at 3:43pm #

    Awwww, do we HAVE to go into the Zioinist things at every opportunity?

    Rascism is all about insecurity. In whites. Whites have never been so insecure as they are now, thanks to Bush’ “War on Fake Terrorism”. I think that is why the colored people of America are seeing an increase in “officially sanctioned rascism” there.

  5. alyce said on August 9th, 2007 at 4:17pm #

    I wonder who the some are that think all racists thought has been eradicated, because it is apparent everywhere. If you are a person of color, you do not want to go near the Bangor, Pennyslvania area extending to Oxford New Jersey. The Ku Klux Klansman still don white robes with pointed hoods even in broad daylight to pass out hate material. In 1998 a cross was burned on a biracial couple’s yard in Virgina Beach. Anyone that is under the impression that racists attitudes are gone, need only come to Long Beach and take a listen to the La Rasas, who are so arrogant they call themselves “the race” as if no other ethnicity exists and hate everything “Americano”. Many Mexican/Americans or immigrants openly spew their hatred of African/Americans; who in turn do not like them, because they are spewing hatred and contempt at them. Indians (people from India) also seem to especially dislike blacks.

    The Jena 6 incident is a good time for anyone that missed Selma AL and Montgomery AL protests to march into Jena, Louisanna on Sept. 20, 2008 and be part of today’s Civil Rights movement.

  6. Rachel said on August 10th, 2007 at 10:18am #

    Zionism = racism because of its views and relationship (of hatred and disdain) with Palestinians. Don’t Palestinians have a right to homes and livelihood, too? Why must they forced out of land and homes they’ve owned for generations and pushed to reside in refugee conditions in the Gaza Strip and West Bank? Smells like racism to me.

  7. Samuel said on August 13th, 2007 at 1:30am #

    Zionism and Americanism are intimately related.

    Both Zionism and Americanism are based upon the respective beliefs that Israel and America are “God’s Chosen People.” For Americans, this fundamentalist belief in American exceptionalism goes back centuries to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where John Winthrop articulated his belief that the first Anglo-American colonies represented a “City on a Hill” that had been uniquely chosen by God to create a holy community on earth.

    This belief in America as a nation inspired by God would be used to justify the USA’s colonization of the entire North American continent, including the theft of not only Native Indian but also Mexican lands (i.e. the supposed “American” Southwest and California). Interestingly, this American concept of religious Manifest Destiny would be mirrored by the Zionists in the Middle East a century later.

    Though Americans may deny it, this shared belief in the idea of being God’s select is one important cultural/religious bond that unites Israelis and Americans together–and partially helps to explain America’s sponsorship of the Zionist state.

    In modern times, this same fundamentalist belief in America’s divine moral goodness has been reflected in Ronald Reagan’s concept of the USA as a “Shining City on a Hill” endowed with a similar divine goodness.

    As was evidenced throughout the Cold War and now in the War on Terrorism era, Americans of ALL political strips–including self-styled Progressives and Liberals–deep down pledge allegiance to this messianic creed of America’s divine mission to “liberate” the world, whether in the name of God or Democracy and Freedom.

    America is a nation of religious fundamentalists through and through. George W. Bush is only the symptom.

  8. Chris Obiekwe said on August 20th, 2007 at 7:10am #

    I watched the Jena 6 documentary on BBC yesterday..and it was sickening. I am a Nigerian and live in Nigeria, Africa. I have visited New orleans many times and the poor condition of blacks is very evident. I was not surprised at all at the condition of blacks when the Katina natural disaster happened.

    At first the national news media were playing down on the fact that blacks were mostly affected but when the international news media came in with the accurate stories..the national media started telling the true stories.

    I believe America is a country living in self denial about its true self.

    The Jena 6 affair is sure to cause some people agony on why this affair is generating so much tension. the national media will not be saying much…as usual but others will always be watching the acceptance of racist practices in the name of justice.

    No wonder blacks form a disproportionate potion of the US prison population….answer is inbuilt racism endures in a lot of American people’s minds.

    We are watching the Jena 6 affair unfold in a country that prides itself as a champion of human rights and democracy.

  9. yeh right said on August 22nd, 2007 at 10:11am #

    We are flooding these official’s phones with calls, please do the same to support these kids and their families Also contact Jena mayor Murphy McMillan as neither he nor the City Council of Jena has lifted a finger of protest against this travesty of justice that we are aware of:
    Murphy McMillan, Mayor
    Phone (318) 992-2148
    To contact District Attorney Reed Walters directly:
    Parish of LaSalle: District Attorney’s Office
    (318) 992-8282

  10. Barrett Laurie said on August 24th, 2007 at 2:55pm #

    I just posted an article to my blog today about this tragic story! Great post! You make all the right points! I think we should do everything we can to get our readers to speak out against this injustuce! You have a great site, I will be back soon to see what’s new!

  11. Kita said on August 28th, 2007 at 8:42pm #

    My parents told me this morning about this tragic situtation. I think this is a act of insecurity and jealous. How can you treat someone in such a unfair way. I personal don’t believe that these 6 people should be charged with anything it was just an act of protection how can a shoe compair to a gun. If their charged with something then all the whites should be also. We as Amercians should learn form our forfathers how to treat and care for other races the same as we do ours we come form one God and will have to face that one God when our lives come to an end so why act so ingorant. God gave his life for us to love, and treat each others and christ brothers and sisters.

  12. Selena said on August 30th, 2007 at 10:54am #

    I keep reading all of these articles about the Jena Six and it makes me want to cry. This is a tragedy but it happens everyday and no one knows about it or cares enough to do anything! There are an abundance of Black children and men in prison for crimes that do not warrant such harsh punishment. The legal system is set up so that they have an up hill battle in life. If a person commits a crime because they have not had opportunities to see that education works and that there are alternative ways to rise above their meager birth rights (poverty, lack of education, broken homes, etc.) they are imprisoned and are further shut out of the American Dream. Thus creating a cycle of joblessness, crime and incarceration.

    My question is this after the Jena Six are set free… what next? Are we going to sit back revelling in our pious victory? Claiming that at least we won one! Because they will let us have our victory… if we will shut up and go calmly back into the night.

    Look at the Imus situation… he’s coming back on the air (now that everything has blown over). And… besides they got M. Vick! No offense to the animal lovers out there but he did not personally kill any of the animals. He made a series of bad decisions and now he is paying for them. But what we are really saying is that a Black man’s life is worth less than a dog’s… come on people, anyone else would have gotten a fine for what he did. People kill dear, bears, rabbits, etc. and gut them and stuff them for entertainment. What’s the difference…

  13. bubba said on September 3rd, 2007 at 12:16pm #

    So if you see a rope its now a rasist statment? Oh boy! isnt that race card wore out yet? IM so sick and tired of the race card being thrown out Im seeing RED…..

  14. Gnatalie said on September 4th, 2007 at 4:38am #

    No dear, a rope is not a “rasist statment”. However, a noose is a different story.

  15. Selena said on September 4th, 2007 at 9:51am #

    Bubba… so nothing in the entire situation seems racially biased to you? No one is pulling a race card… the facts demonstrate that those children are being treated unfairly.

  16. acote001 said on September 8th, 2007 at 8:57am #

    This is a typical example of reverse racism. Was it wrong to hang nooses from the tree, absolutely. Should those students responsible for hanging those nooses be punished, absolutely and they were. Now to say that 6 black students jumping a white student and kicking him in the face is ok, that is wrong. If it were the opposite, if 6 white students jumped a black student than the NAACP, rev. Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton would have had a 10,000 black people protesting a hate crime, but because it was black on white and the students responsible are being punished appropriately the black students are being treated “unfairly”. Enough is enough, black, white, or purple, 15 or 50 when you jump someone 6 to 1 and you kick them in the face while they are on the ground regardless of the injuries inflicted they should be punished to the full extent of the law. Stop using racism as a blanket to protect black people from being prosecuted from doing things that are clearly wrong.

  17. dan said on September 16th, 2007 at 10:32pm #

    fullest degree of the law? a black youth is beaten up and the white students get a misdemeanor charge? but black student beating up a white kid get felony charges? come on acete001 you got to stop smoking the stuff you’re growing. yes the black youths should be punished, a misdemeanor charge for beating up the kid who was okay enough to go to a party later that evening hardly a life threatening situation, near death? no HE WAS WELL ENOUGH TO GO TO A PARTY!! If six people were trying to beat you to death, I think they would have done a better job!, BUT HE WENT TO A PARTY LATER THAT EVENING!!

    I can’t stand it when people pick and choose, only what’s convenient to them to make their point. Misdemeanor charges for the black youths, yes so they will not do it again, but what about the white youths slap on the wrist, and stop hanging those darn nooses on trees you crazy kids!! people might take your prank the wrong way..

  18. dawgg said on September 19th, 2007 at 5:51pm #

    One on one violence can be termed a fight. Six on one is much worse. If this had been 6 whites on 1 black I’m sure everyone would see it differently. Remember the Duke Lacross Team?

  19. mutterhals said on September 20th, 2007 at 4:36am #

    Your right, the white dudes would have got off with a slap on the wrist and the black dude would be thrown in jail.

  20. Johnmark said on September 20th, 2007 at 10:33am #

    The more you support the jena six and others like them, the more you loose the support of white people. Six boys beat up on one boy and you defend them? Give me a break. I have always supported civils rights in this country but never again. The antiquated black leaders in this country and destroying any progress made by the so called black movement. You should not defend people who break the law.

  21. MAC said on September 22nd, 2007 at 10:13am #

    Please realize that the thousands who marched in Jena didn’t do so because Sharpton or Jackson brainwashed them to do. The only truth is that there is an unequal justice system exists in this country and it’s about time that a light shines on this unspoken truth. The world watched during the Hurricane Katrina tragedy and saw how Blacks and Whites are treated differently in this country. A double standard exists and a change needs to take place!!!!

    Given the biased racist nature of the DA, Michael Bell prior convictions cannot be held against him. Who knows the legitimacy of the prior convictions?

    Justin Barker did not deserve to be jumped but please realize that he wasn’t innocent. He taunted the Black students for only God knows how long.

    All of this talk about 6 to 1 is ridiculous. Do you really think that in such a racially charged town that other whites would just sit there and let a white get beat???? Views of this case are so distorted it’s a shame.

    Those who don’t see the connection between the events (nooses, blacks getting beaten and threatened with riffles and Barker being jumped) please see To those who dont understand why everyone is hurt and upset by the injustice that the Jena 6 faces are simply in denial of the fact that racism is alive in America; sometimes its covert and sometimes it’s overt. It’s time for a reality check. To those who are offended by others marching for equal rights, the truth hurts. Stop complaining, face the facts, and join the fight!!!!!!!!!

  22. steve said on September 23rd, 2007 at 7:20am #

    the jena 6 should be still in jail,the took the law into their oun hands,what if it been 6 white kides that jumped a black kid? last january 6 blacks kidnap 2 white kids (go to double murder in knoxville)both were raped for hours before being killed, where was rev jessey,and rev al. who is standing by the kids famils now?(when i say kids she was 22 and he was 23 both college studentswho is marching for the kids, who remember these kids? next thing to happen is marchers will be trying to get the animals free,after they just kidnap, raped, ans killed 2 white kids