We haven't discussed the "Jena 6."
Perhaps you have been discussing it in class, but for those who haven't heard, here is the condensed version:
Jena is a small town in Louisiana. In early August of 2006, three (white) boys hung nooses from a tree at the high school. Administration knew who did it, but did not punish them. (I don't remember their reasoning, but do remember "Boys will be boys" being thrown out.)
The local prosecutor also did not press charges because he could find no Louisiana law under which they could be charged.
Tensions rose, and three months later six (black) students beat up a white student. Justin Barker was knocked unconscious, his face badly swollen and bloodied, but he was able to attend a school function later that night.
The six teens were prosecuted--there were plenty of laws in which they could be charged. They were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy.
Only one of the Jena 6 has been tried: Mychal Bell:
By MARY FOSTER (AP) Bell, 16 at the time of the 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.
Thursday's protest had been planned to coincide with Bell's sentencing, but organizers decided to press ahead even after the conviction was thrown out. Bell remains jailed while prosecutors prepare an appeal. He has been unable to meet the $90,000 bond.
Yesterday, up to 20,000 people marched in protest of the treatment of the Jena 6 in the town of about 3,500. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson helped organize the event, and Martin Luther King III was also there. Sharpton calls Jena the beginning of the 21st century civil rights movement.
For more, here are links to two good articles on the topic: one and two
(from the same AP article...) Bails for the Jena 6 were between $70,000 and $138,000, and all but Bell have posted bond. Bell, 17, has been in prison since his arrest. The judge has refused to lower his $90,000 bail, citing Bell's record, which includes four juvenile offenses -- two simple battery charges among them.
What do you think, gang? Be respectful...
Do you agree with Sharpton? What do you think the ramifications of this issue will be on race in America?