September 22, 2007 in Nation/World

Judge denies Jena teen’s release

Mary Foster Associated Press
 

JENA, La. – A judge on Friday denied a request to release a teenager whose arrest in the beating of a white classmate sparked this week’s civil rights protest in Louisiana.

Mychal Bell’s request to be freed while an appeal is being reviewed was rejected at a juvenile court hearing, effectively denying him any chance at immediate bail, according to a person familiar with the case.

Earlier, Bell’s mother emerged from the hearing in tears, refusing to comment.

Bell, 17, was convicted of aggravated second-degree battery, which could have led to 15 years in prison. But his conviction was thrown out by a state appeals court that said he could not be tried on the charge as an adult because he was 16 at the time of the beating.

“This is why we did not cancel the march,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, an organizer of Thursday’s rally along with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the NAACP. “When they overturned Mychal’s conviction, everyone said we won.”

Jackson said in an interview Friday that federal intervention is needed to protect Bell’s rights. Sharpton said he has scheduled meetings in Washington with congressional leaders to discuss the Jena Six case.

On Thursday, the case drew thousands of protesters to this tiny central Louisiana town to rally against what they see as a double standard of justice for blacks and whites. The march was one of the biggest civil rights demonstrations in years.

© Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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