Jena Six Thread

The Jena Six case is huge news today. Here's some links to today's articles.

  • Update: Christy at Firedoglake has a thoughtful post on the Jena Six

Note: I have removed the link to the Jenna Times page because I found the coverage selectively inclusive -- meaning it omitted important details which in my view, prevents a full, unbiased and accurate understanding of the events that have transpired.

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    I'd expect nothing less (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by jondee on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 03:34:16 PM EST
    from the part of the country where David Duke was lately considered a valid candidate for higher govt and it takes forty years to get good leads on the people who like to blow up little girls in church.

    I have to admit though, that if you wre unlucky enough to be born with the moron gene, the wingnut talk radio commentary on this case can can be very persuasive.

    to be honest, (4.50 / 2) (#1)
    by cpinva on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 01:47:58 PM EST
    i'm a tad confused. 6 kids beat the living daylights out of another kid, rendering him unconscious and putting him in the hospital. the one beaten up did nothing to those beating him.

    the six who did the beating are arrested and charged.

    where is the "injustice" in this case? or did i miss something?

    Ah, (none / 0) (#2)
    by HeadScratcher on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 01:59:08 PM EST
    Because of other incidents that led to this beating...Selective prosecution and harsh penalties, etc...

    Not that the Jena 6 are great people to mobilize around. They should be punished pretty harshly. It's just that some of the crimes committed by whites should have at least been prosecuted.


    What other incidents? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Patrick on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 02:01:35 PM EST
    I don't think you can find anything that justifies what occ'd.  

    I'm not justifying (none / 0) (#15)
    by HeadScratcher on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 03:08:46 PM EST
    in any way or shape what happened. On the contrary, I think that some of the crimes committed by whites (including one incident where a white kids smashed a bottle against a black kid without penalty) should be prosecuted harshly also. There just doesn't seem to be parity between the handling of this case and some of the other things that went on.

    Personally, I think the Jena 6 should rot for awhile...I just think some of the white students should too! That's why I think using these 6 as role models for civil injustice is bad.


    In an ideal world, the U.S. Dept. of (none / 0) (#30)
    by oculus on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 06:22:43 PM EST
    Justice would investigate and possibly prosecute.  

    I heard.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 02:17:27 PM EST
    the victim was out of the hospital later that day, fwiw.

    The injustice is the attemted murder charge....assault seems more applicable, if anything.  We had a few brawls at my high school, I remember one where a kid left in an ambulance, and nobody got charged with attempted murder.  In fact, nobody got charged with anything.    

    Plus the circumstances that led to the string of racially charged fights....hanging nooses from a tree.  That counts for something.


    your argument (none / 0) (#17)
    by HeadScratcher on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 03:09:49 PM EST
    would make more sense if the person who was beaten was the person who put up the nooses. Otherwise it's irrelevant.

    They were kicking him in the head (none / 0) (#19)
    by Pancho on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 03:11:54 PM EST
    while he was laying on the ground unconscious. That is very serious.

    What should the charge be for the noose(s)?


    No charge on the nooses, (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 03:26:51 PM EST
    the school suspension was sufficient for that, imo.  

    I say charge all the players in all the fights  with assault, if anything at all.  

    When the white kid who smashed a beer bottle over a black kid's head gets a slap on the wrist, and the black kids who stomp on a white kid get attemted murder....we have an injustice ladies and gentlemen.

    My preference is a slap on the wrist for all....things got way out of hand at this school, attempted murder charges for anybody, white or black, is not the way to de-escalate the situation, imo.


    For starters, (none / 0) (#25)
    by Pancho on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 04:28:29 PM EST
    I think we ALL agree that race should not be a factor in punishment, but I honestly don't think a single blow with a bottle on the head is the same as stomping an unconscious kid in the head multiple times by multiple people.

    You would think we'd all agree..... (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 05:32:28 PM EST
    the DA in Jena must have missed the memo.

    I'll take you at your word Pancho, take me at mine.  I've seen guys hit with beer bottles, I've seen guys on the ground getting stomped, both in the same brawl incidently...I see them as equally disgusting acts.

    Long story short, in my knuckleheaded opinion, the situation calls for some healing, forgiveness, and second chances.  And it calls for legitimate questions into prosecutorial practices.

    Not long prison sentences for teenagers.


    The question is (none / 0) (#34)
    by Donna Darko on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 11:25:23 PM EST
    does hitting someone over the head with beer bottle constitute


    No racial prejudice here.


    Injustice, Indeed! (none / 0) (#43)
    by smcronic on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 06:55:18 PM EST
    Your post is laughable. Arrested and charged-initially facing 80+ years for a schoolyard fight, this is not an injustice? Certainly, these children/men (one being 18) broke the law but why was the white teenager who beat up AFAM teenagers previously only charged with a "simple" battery not resulting in arrest. It is an injustice that hanging a noose from a tree, which envokes slavery, reconstruction, and Jim Crow eras (read: racist) is not "illegal" in the so called "land of the free". It is an injustice that our country has ever tolerated those practices, which are still embedded in the very thread of our personal and public ideologies and manifest daily. The only difference between these time periods and the present is that racism operates very diffently-covertly instead of overt and blatant. But, yes, it is still alive and well and the INJUSTICE of the Jena 6 proves this. As if, we needed proof.  

    Those who cannot see the Injustice (none / 0) (#4)
    by glanton on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 02:10:29 PM EST
    of what has happened there in Jena, might try opening your eyes.


    some clarification (none / 0) (#5)
    by A DC Wonk on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 02:13:43 PM EST
    My understanding (which could be wrong) is that:

    1.  While the victim did go to the hospital, he was able to attended a school function later that eveing.

    2.  The "injustice" is that it was an after-school fight, and yet one was initially charged of attemped 2d degree murder, as an adult.

    3.  Then, charges were reduced to aggravated assault, which requires a deadly weapon.  The defendants tennis shoes, which he wore when kicking the victim, were the deadly weapon.

    4.  Court appointed attorney for the defense called zero witnesses.

    5.  Appeals court overturned, stating that defendant should have been charged as a juvenile.

    6.  Some of the complaints are that the events leading up to the incident, many perpetrated by whites, went ignored.  (E.g., a white student pulled a gun on a couple of black students who wrestled it away and reported the incident to the police, who in turn charged THEM with assault and robbery of a firearm.)

    In short, had they been charged with assault or some such thing like that, we wouldn't be reading about it today.

    More facts (none / 0) (#41)
    by LarryE on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 08:54:51 AM EST
    (2) is not mitigated by (3). The charges were reduced only after the local black community started organizing and some media attention resulted. The remaining charges are still both felonies.

    (3) I'm not sure where all the insistence on "kicks" and "stomps" to Barker's head (as opposed to anywhere else on his body) come from. Not only is the kicking/stomping part disputed, but the only reference to kicks to the head I can find in the coverage is a statement by Barker's father. Barker's injuries as described in the ER report are more consistent with fists and falling than kicks.

    (4) Incompetent counsel is cause for retrial.

    (6) The black student who got beaten was Robert Bailey, one of the 6. He was also the one who had a white student - who had been one of those at the party where Bailey was beaten - pull a shotgun on him. That white student was not Justin Barker. Some witnesses say that just before the assault, Barker was in Bell's face, using racial slurs and giving him the finger but that, too, is disputed.

    Bottom line is that I agree with DC Wonk that if the 6 had been charged with simple battery as was the white student who attacked Bailey, we never would have heard about this case. It was the grossly disparate treatment against a backdrop of a "whites only" tree, racism, and de facto segregation that got this the attention it has.


    assault and robbery of a firearm (none / 0) (#48)
    by due east on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 10:21:19 AM EST
    Some of the complaints are that the events leading up to the incident, many perpetrated by whites, went ignored.  (E.g., a white student pulled a gun on a couple of black students who wrestled it away and reported the incident to the police, who in turn charged THEM with assault and robbery of a firearm.)

    Depending on the circumstance, this wasn't
    a unreasonable charge.
    If I and some of my friends were threating you,
    you pulled a gun to protect yourself, and we
    got the gun away from you and then assaulted you,
    we should be charged with assault and robbery.


    Double standard (none / 0) (#7)
    by Slado on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 02:23:04 PM EST
    We are supposed to ignore prior incidents when we charge perps with crimes, IE past convictions etc...

    But when someone is charged with an obvious crime we are then supposed to go back and look for reasons to justify their obvious criminal action.  

    You can't have it both ways.  

    These guys are guilty.  Should the white guys be in jail.  Maybe.   But saying these guys should be released to make a point is insane.

    Guilty of attempted murder? (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 02:44:53 PM EST
    No freakin' way Slado.  Maybe assault.  First time offense for assault by a minor, probation is in order, not a stint in adult prison.

    Technically.... (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 05:52:49 PM EST
    I guess it could be considered appropriate, if you ignore all the extenuating circumstances.

    Actually (none / 0) (#38)
    by LarryE on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 07:35:32 AM EST
    They are only convicted of assault

    No one has been convicted, as Bell's was overturned on the grounds he was improperly charged as an adult and the others have yet to come to trial.

    However, the five (the sixth is in juvenile court) are not charged with assault but with aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, both felonies. They face up to 30 years in prison.

    The white student who smashed a bottle over a black student's head, by comparison, was charged with simple battery, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to probation.


    That's misleading (none / 0) (#39)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 08:39:02 AM EST
      Prior incidents are not "ignored" by the criminal justice system. Many time prior convictions lead to prosecution under recidivist statutes which enhance punishment. In the absence of limited exceptions a prior felony record or certain misdemeanors (involving untruthfulness)can be used to impeach a witness including a defendant testifying in his own behalf. Under Rule 404 (b) of the rules of evicence (denominated differently in some jurisdictions)prior bad acts are often admissible at a trial.

      At sentencing judges are permitted to and do evaluate a defendant's entire known record and background in determining a sentence.   Conversely, mitigating evidence (such as the broader circumstances surrounding the offense) is also something a judge is permitted to and does consider at sentencing.

       Nor do prosecutors generally "ignore" persons past records and backgroundswhen determing whether to seek indictment and if so what charges to seek in the indictment.

      All of that is standard-- and in the abstract fine. the problem arises when factors which should be impermissible, notably but not only race, lead actors in the system to reach different positions in different cases.

      Essentially that is the complaint here.



    White students cracked skull of black student (none / 0) (#8)
    by Donna Darko on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 02:43:42 PM EST
    The injustice is clear when white student beat up a black student and got one misdemeanor. One of the white students even cracked the black student's head open with a beer bottle.

    "In early December, a black student was beaten by white students at an off-campus party. One student in that attack was charged with a misdemeanor."

    "In the first weekend of December, a Black student was assaulted by a group of white students, and a white graduate of Jena High School threatened several Black students with a shotgun. The following Monday, white students taunted the Black student who was assaulted over the weekend, and one of the white students was beaten up."

    White STUDENTS (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Donna Darko on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 04:07:09 PM EST
    Six white STUDENTS beat up one black student and got one misdemeanor. That's injustice. The black kid's skull cracked open.

    Then a white guy brandished a shogun at three black students at the convenience store but the students were charged with theft because they took the shotgun away from him. The white guy wasn't charged with anything.

    White students hung three nooses in the three school colors after black students ASKED TO SIT UNDER A TREE.

    The white student who was beat up started the fight by racially taunting the black student who was beat up by white students. He only received facial cuts and bruises and was released from the hospital two hours later. He attended a social function that night. We don't even know how long the black student with the cracked skull was in the hospital.


    A better remedy.... (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 03:29:26 PM EST
    would be to throw no young lives down the drain with "pound me in the arse" prison sentences.  

    Probation for all and some anger management classes.


    Or just watch this video (none / 0) (#10)
    by Donna Darko on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 02:46:07 PM EST
    cynicism... (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 03:03:15 PM EST
    Sure, the boys were overcharged, but let the court system work itself out.  Calling for a congressional hearing looks like Al Sharpton trying to deflect attention away from the new book about Duke.  Al didn't exactly call for a congressional hearing about Nifong.

    100 years each? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Donna Darko on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 04:12:30 PM EST
    They were facing 100 years in prison each.

    These are 17 year old kids. Mychal was 16 at the time.

    None of the kids including the white kids should be in prison because they're juveniles.

    The hanging of nooses is a hate crime as it constitutes hate speech. If they had been punished for that none of this would have transpired. Students were suspended for three days until the parents complained. They should have remained suspended and none of this would have happened.  


    You are correct... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 05:51:36 PM EST
    a couple battery and desctruction of property adjudications for one of the six minors.

    In other words, fighting.  High school kids fighting.

    I have no dog in this fight - (none / 0) (#29)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 06:01:20 PM EST
    except that my bet, that, like almost every other time some "outrageous" event is presented on TL, there is much more to the story than we are aware of - but you explain away a HS kid's 5th conviction?

    Sorry, a HS kid with one violent crime conviction is an attention-getter in my book. But 5?! Wow.


    It was 3 incidents..... (none / 0) (#31)
    by kdog on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 06:25:41 PM EST
    prior to this case with charges doubled up.

    From what I've heard about this town, It doesn't carry much weight with me bro.  


    Racism is embedded in institutions (none / 0) (#44)
    by smcronic on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 07:04:17 PM EST
    FYI-racism as it operates today is embedded in each and every one of our societal institutions (meaning law, education, etc.). Is it not possible that these prior convictions were also the cause of an over zealous sheriff/police person or what have you? The sad reality is young AFAM teenagers and men are railroaded by our system. Actually, it begins much younger in our educational systems, which track and continually define AFAM boys as "inherent" criminals and underachievers. In addition, priors are not relevant. Are you taking these convictinos at face value or do you actually know all details surrounding them? So, quick we are to lock up another black man to "save society".

    Do you? (none / 0) (#47)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 11:40:04 PM EST
    Are you taking these convictinos at face value or do you actually know all details surrounding them?

    his criminal record (none / 0) (#37)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 01:34:23 AM EST
    is outlined here.

    • a battery Christmas Day 2005, for which he was put on probation until Jan. 18, 2008
    • criminal damage to property that occurred on July 25, 2006.
    • a battery Sept. 2 and criminal damage to property Sept. 3 (probably 2006)

    At a minimum, (none / 0) (#40)
    by Pancho on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 08:47:00 AM EST
    there must be a probation violation. None of the cases you've cited have been disposed of yet.

    If the white kids need charges filed against them, then great- file charges, but letting this kid go "free" is not the answer.

    If every protestor contributed one dollar, this kid could be bonded out, but they don't want that.


    Selective memory (none / 0) (#35)
    by Donna Darko on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 11:40:02 PM EST
    Today, the DA said the racist incident of hanging nooses wasn't connected to the fight but you connect Bell's past with the fight.

    So it's okay to live in a racist town but not one with a violent male.

    My comment was a response to another poster (none / 0) (#45)
    by Donna Darko on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 09:14:09 PM EST
    not Jeralyn. The comment was about Mychal's past.

    Jeralyn deleted that comment for some reason.


    History (none / 0) (#36)
    by Donna Darko on Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 11:44:56 PM EST
    One could also say the hanging of nooses is a violent act. One of the fathers said on CNN today that, to blacks, it means someone will be lynched.

    you're right (none / 0) (#46)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 09:27:42 PM EST
    I deleted two comments with false facts.

    btw, your factual recitations are pretty good. Thanks for contributing.


    Gee I wonder why? (none / 0) (#49)
    by jondee on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 11:27:09 AM EST
    It might have something to do with a period spanning generations in which blacks, particularly in the South, could be not only lynched, but castrated, burned alive, gang raped etc with almost complete impunity. If this were Germany and the harrasment targeted at Jewish students, the noose-hangers would be in jail right now and their parents would be publicly disgraced.