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Friday, September 21, 2007

House Judiciary Committee To Hold Hearings On The Jena Six, Reports "Too Sense" AfroSpear Blog

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Friday, September 21, 2007

By Too Sense, Afrosphere Associated Press (AAP) blogger.

House Judiciary Committee To Hold Hearings On The Jena Six

Via Carpetbagger, it looks like the Feds are finally paying attention in Jena. It's amazing really, the effect twenty thousand people demanding justice can have on Congress. The House Judiciary Committee is set to hold hearings on the incidents in Jena, Louisiana. They will led by Chairman John Conyers.

(Washington, DC)- Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) told a crowd gathered on the Capitol grounds that he is holding a forum next week and plans to hold hearings to address the case of six teenagers in Jena, Louisiana who were charged with attempted murder for a schoolyard fight. Conyers spoke during a rally of support for the students, now being called the “Jena Six,” in Washington, in coordination with rallies in Jena and other U.S. cities.
This is bad news for Reed Walters, since evidence of his misconduct in this case is growing. The third district court in Louisiana ordered that Bell's bail hearing be held within 72 hours yesterday, just two days after Walters and a judge failed to show up to a previous bail hearing for Bell.

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Yesterday Walters reiterated his commitment to pursuing charges against the Jena Six, insisting that "the victim had been forgotten" in this controversy.

Last week, the same appeals court vacated Bell's June conviction for aggravated second-degree battery, ruling that Walters had improperly prosecuted him as an adult rather a juvenile. Walters has vowed to appeal that ruling and has already initiated juvenile proceedings against Bell. The prosecutor also said Wednesday that he would vigorously pursue his cases against the rest of the teenage defendants, insisting that their white victim had been forgotten amid the controversy.
The only thing that has been forgotten are the charges against Barker for bringing a loaded shotgun to school after the beating. This seems particularly convenient given that Barker was a prop at the press conference Walters held yesterday. Walters has now failed to press charges in every incident involving the aggression of a white student in Jena, including the beating of Theo Shaw at a an all white party. Shaw is one of the Six charged in the beating of Justin Barker.

In her column yesterday Amy Goodman artfully debunked a statement from a member of the Jena school board, who says that the young kids "didn't know the meaning of the noose".
I recently visited Billy “Bulldog” Fowler in his office. He’s a white member of the LaSalle Parish School Board. He says Jena is being unfairly painted as racist. He feels the hanging nooses were blown out of proportion, that in the high school setting it was more of a prank: “This is the Deep South, and [older] black people know the meaning of a noose. Let me tell you something—young people don’t.”
If that seems like a completely unsubstantiated assumption, that's because it is. Robert Bailey, one of the Jena Six, knew clearly what the noose meant when he saw it.
That night, I went to see the Baileys in their mobile home in Ward 10, one of the black neighborhoods in Jena. Two of the Jena Six, Robert Bailey and Theo Shaw, were ironing their clothes. I asked them what they thought when they saw the nooses. Robert immediately said: “The first thing came to mind was the KKK. I don’t know why, but that was the first thing that came to my head. I used to always think the KKK chase black people on horses, and they catch you with rope.”
So much for that argument.

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In addition, Goodman revealed in her column yesterday that Walters refused to allow the Jena School Board to review the school's investigation of the noose incident, a proper response to which could have ended the turmoil in Jena just after it began. The white students who hung the nooses were suspended for several days. The principal of the school resigned in disgust. At the School Board meeting, Walters denied the Board access to vital information before they were asked to vote on the expulsion of the Jena Six.

The African-American teens were dealt with differently. They were expelled, but appealed to the school board. The school district had conducted an investigation, but the school board was not allowed to review it. The school board’s lawyer was none other than the prosecuting district attorney, Reed Walters.

Board member Fowler recalls the January meeting: “Our legal authority that night was Mr. Walters.”

I asked, “And he told you, you couldn’t have access to the school proceedings, or the investigation?”

Fowler replied: “That’s right. [Walters said] it was a violation of something.” The board voted, without information. Fowler recalls: “It was unanimous. No, no it wasn’t. There was one board member who voted no, and that was Mr. Worthington.” Melvin Worthington, the only African-American on the school board, voted against upholding the expulsion of the black students.

Clearly, Mr. Walters had a particular outcome in mind. Hopefully, his intentions and conduct will be closely scrutinized by the House Judiciary Committee.

President Bush commented on the events in Louisiana yesterday:
"The events in Louisiana have saddened me," the president said. "And I understand the emotions. The Justice Department and the FBI are monitoring the situation down there. And all of us in America want there to be, you know, fairness when it comes to justice."
How carefully and deliberately ambiguous.

5 comments:

  1. Excellent take on this story here.
    http://averagebro.blogspot.com/2007/09/averagebro-blogs-live-from-jena-la.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's incredible how some people, in this day and age, can write off hanging nooses as a "prank." It's a symbol of terrorism, as offensive as the Nazi banner. These same people will go on and on about Al Queda and Osama, but gloss over lynching and the KKK. They are outraged when our American troops are kidnapped, filmed, and murdered in a foreign land, yet they tell blacks to "get over" the fact that this same kind of stuff happened to them.

    How can we fight terrorism and sectarian issues overseas when we can't manage our own house?

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  3. The mayor or Jena and the beating victim Justin Barker had an interview with a "White Supremacist" group:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-jena25_websep25,1,4962646.story

    The mayor of the town meeting with the likes of these - unbelievable, yet the residents of Jena want the world to think they are not racist.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The link was cut off, here is a tinyurl:

    http://tinyurl.com/36t24z

    ReplyDelete
  5. just found your blog today, and it's interesting and enlightening. keep up the work, brother!!!

    as to the noose thing... I saw one today outside of starbucks in forest hills today where myself and a latin friend were eating; I was disgusted and won't be spending any of my hard-earned money there again. open acceptance of racist symbols is unacceptable!!!

    then what ran through my mind was that these god-fearin' folks forgot one of their sunday school lessons, "When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things." if the noose is really just a "prank" symbol, why grown men feel they need to hang THIS item in their over-sized trucks and teach their young how to make them with lessons of intimidating others in case the visual doesn't work? how would they feel if people of color hung barbies from a noose from our rear-view windows?

    not trying to start something, just have questions that need answering.

    ReplyDelete