Who are the Jena 6, you ask? 6 young men in Louisiana who are being railroaded as we speak. Why? Because of a corrupted criminal justice system that allows those charged with upholding the law to interpret the law differently depending on your race.

It’s a long story and here’s some background. From the too-brief wikipedia entry on Jena, LA on this:

The six accused of attempted second-degree murder are black and were fighting a white student after a week of intimidation by white students, including the one who was assaulted.[6] Intimidation cited includes an incident where a white man brandished a gun on school property. Students allegedly wrestled away the gun and were then held in custody.[7] The white man was later fined and the students charged. There are also claims of intimidation from the DA during the alleged week of intimidation.[8]

On June 26, 2007 the first day of trial for Mychal Bell, one of the defendants, the prosecutor agreed to reduce the charges for Bell to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery.[9] Bell was found guilty by an all-white july, and will face the possibility of up to 22 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 31, 2007.[7] However, the case is currently in dispute, as the court-appointed public defender did not call a single witness in his attempt to defend Bell.[10] As of June 26, 2007 there is no word as to whether the charges of the other 5 (for which the trial date is later) will be reduced.

The town has gained international notoriety as an example of the alleged “new ‘stealth’ racism” that lives on in America[11] with national attention drawn to the events by a National Public Radio prime time story on July 30, 2007

dnA over at Too Sense has been doing an excellent job covering this story here and here, for example. (Good luck on the move to NYC, bruh)

Suffice it to say, it’s outrageous on a number of different fronts. For one thing, what we are seeing with Shaquanda Cotton, Genarlow Wilson and the Jena 6 is lynching, 21st century style. It’s updated for the modern era and conveniently bloodless. Why bother with the messy illegality of violent bloodshed from the Jim Crow era when you can now use the law to destroy lives and set a chilling example that the rest of the local African-American community will heed?

It’s Legal Lynching. Where is the NAACP in all this? Well, check out their home page. They are using the outrage over this case as an opportunity to fundraise — but for whom, you ask? How much of that money exactly is going to help the families of these teenagers and for the boys’ legal team? As opposed to the salaries of the complacent bureaucrats working there?

Where is the NAACP Legal Defense Fund when you need them and believe me, sounds like the Jena 6 need them. I would be interested to know: The NLDF’s most recent press releases are from October 2006 and there is no mention of the Jena 6 on their website. From Democracy Now’s interview with recently convicted Mychal Bell’s father:

AMY GOODMAN: Why did Mychal choose not to plea bargain?

MARCUS JONES: ’Cause he wanted Mychal to take a plea. Well, see, you’ve got to remember, any time a plea bargain be thrown on the table for any man here in LaSalle Parish, that person is innocent. Here in LaSalle Parish, whenever a black man is offered a plea bargain, he is innocent. That’s a dead giveaway here in the South. So he was putting pressure on Mychal, threatening him, you know, about the time he gonna get and, oh, he ain’t going to be able to play no football no more, and his life is over with, you know, just that old Jim Crow intimidation method that he was using for to try to get my son to take a plea bargain. So he lowered the charges down on my son from a lesser charge, but it was still — all of it was still felonies. But he wanted Mychal to give away information for the plea bargain, give away information about who all else was involved in there. Well, why you gonna try to trick him and lie to him for to do something that he’s innocent of? If you have all this hardcore information about who was involved in it, you shouldn’t even be trying to manipulate no young man’s mind like that. And, I mean, the court-appointed lawyer, I mean, he was just playing right along, right along with the DA.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you able to get another lawyer?

MARCUS JONES: No, not at this moment.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you, Marcus Jones, father of Mychal Bell, the first of the Jena 6 to be convicted. His son on July 31st faces up to twenty-two years at his sentencing.

The NAACP has received more attention for comments accusing people of “piling on” regarding Michael Vick’s indictment on dogfighting than on any visible efforts to help the Jena 6. I am just calling it as I see it. I’d love to hear that I am mistaken and that the NAACP and NLDF are in the trenches fighting hard for these boys’ justice. Wouldn’t you?

Lynching remains a haunting scar on America’s past. From a post on BlackProf Feb 27 2007 that attracted 164 comments:

Last Saturday over 150 people gathered in Harlem to talk about lynching. The occasion was a reading by Blackprof’s Sherrilyn Ifill of her new book “On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century.” The conversation felt as contemporary and as urgent as a discussion of an exit strategy in Iraq.

When you talk about racial profiling and the threat it poses daily in the lives of African-Americans…when you talk about a well-publicized injustice like Genarlow Wilson or the Jena 6 that persists even under public scrutiny — then yes, isn’t this contemporary and urgent?

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