Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why I Remember Jena & Gina

Gina McCauley responds to US Economic Boycott Set November 2:

Why does this address the Megan Williams torture case and ignore Dunbar Village an equally horrific torture and rape of a Black woman and her child? Not to mention the implications of the City of West Palm Beach cordoning off poor African Americans into a slum and then leaving them to rot and die without police protection.

Eddie Griffin responds:

Thank you for your response, some of which I wish to address publicly for the sake of those who share your sentiments.

As a man who walks by faith and not by sight, it is not necessary for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel before I step out into the abyss. I am just truly appreciative that you read and responded to my article “US Economic Boycott Set for November 2”.

Re: JENA 6

I was inspired to write the article after receiving several emails calling for the boycott. In an earlier article, “Beyond Jena”, I wrote: “By now, we should be three miles down the road past Jena, with contingency planning as to where do we go from here.” At the time, I believed that the then-upcoming September 20 mass demonstration would not be enough to change the situation in this part of Louisiana. Therefore, I eagerly endorsed subsequent strategic actions.

Personally speaking, however, I would have isolated and targeted the state of Louisiana, particularly its riverboat gambling operations and the New Orleans relief effort. The state of Louisiana is well known for its corruption. For example, recently, two judges were either indicted or convicted for accepting bribes. Putting these factors together, you might infer some kind of connection.

Secondly, Jena is David Duke territory. This is where he reigned as Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Third, Louisiana, historically, has had the highest number of recorded lynchings, more than any other state in the union. Considering that fact, the Jena nooses represented a real threat to the black students at Jena High.

We do not know what would have happened had not this fight occurred. For sure, the outside world would still been in the dark. And, I am confident that the Jena 6 youth did exactly what we would have done back in the old days. Simply put, they defended themselves and their families against the threats and intimidations of the Klan. They risked their lives and their futures, just as some of us did in the 60s and 70s. You must realize that some of the grandfathers of these Jena boys are still in prison for taking a stand against white terrorism in their communities- and nobody has yet to say thanks.


Both torture cases, I agree, were so horrific that one case can not be weighed more importantly than the other in terms of shock. Also, I have read your stories of Dunbar Village on your blog. Although I have never been clear as to how to effectively deal with the Palm Beach, Florida situation without a local effort initiating the drive. And, I have not read a plan of action. (Maybe I’m missing something and you can update me).

Here are some of the excerpts I found in your writings about the issue:

So in light of everything that is "happening" in West Palm Beach, I would like to offer some "observations" perhaps even a critique or two as I am prone to do. If you live in West Palm Beach, now would be the time that you stopped reading this post if you are "tender hearted" and have a heaping pile of civic pride… Lots of movement, if not progress, seems to be occurring in West Palm Beach. I fear, however, that all this "movement" is all style and no substance…

1. Dunbar Village was a crime against humanity, not some petty theft of a bicycle. So what does that mean? It means that although the crime happened in West Palm Beach in a place called Dunbar Village, all of civil society has a vested interest in making sure that the conditions that facilitated this crime are stamped out…

2. Clearly intervention from the State of Florida is required…. You can't have roving militaristic gangs running around committing crimes against humanity as a matter of course…

3. The Federal government needs to get involved if the State of Florida will not… Second, the victim was clearly targeted based on her gender- HATE CRIME and possibly her national origin- HATE CRIME!

4. What kind of civil society will we have if the freedom of movement for women and girls is restricted because little Dunbar Villages start popping up all over the country?

5. If ever there was something to be POLITICAL, how local and state leaders deal with this disaster should be POLITICAL…

Eddie Griffin Commentary:

I believe that gangs should never have the dominant influence in the community. But they can only rule if there is an absence of local leadership. If local community leaders are MIA, then calling for state and federal intervention essentially means putting the neighborhood under police or military quarantine. Does the state of Florida need to declare martial law to deal with gangs?

Frankly speaking, I do not know how bad the situation is. It is bad enough to ghettorize the black community. Given that fact, martial law and state militia does not seem the solution to the psychotic culture that breeds inside of Dunbar Villages. True and good leadership suppresses criminal tendencies before a crime wave breaks out, and that means working with youth and channeling their energies into productive paths. It is all a matter of who is in control.

We call our influence in the community a “footprint” because some things get squashed before it ever gets started. I would recommend leadership training before militarization.

Re: Genarlow Wilson

Eddie Griffin wrote: What about Genarlow Wilson, the 17-year old black boy sentenced to 10 years in prison for having consensual sex with a 15-year old girl in the state of Georgia, under an antiquated law that has since been changed? Not that this boy-meets-girl scenario is outrageously unusual, but the fact that Genarlow is still incarcerated and will be marred as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Gina responded: I take take umbrage at the characterization of the facts in the Genarlow Wilson case. That was not a scene out of Romeo and Juliet. A group of older boys made a 15 year old girl their entertainment and they video taped it (child porn) and the tape of the 17 year old girl, at least the portions release on media outlets was not "usual" or ordinary. In fact, they were outright disturbing. Let's have an 8th amendment argument without tossing young Black girls overboard. Consider revising that paragraph on Wilson, he does not have to be a saint for the constitutional protections to apply to him, but let's not minimize the fact that the lives of two girls were also changed that night in Douglasville, GA. Maybe it is a gender thing, but consider a revision.

Eddie Griffin replies:

I had to go back to Webster and look up “umbrage” because I don’t get very many of those. But I admit the “gender thing”, insofar as it is impossible for me to think as a woman- although I have seen men in prison who can no longer think as men.

From my understanding, the case of Genarlow Wilson was “consensual sex” between teens. Nowhere have I read that the girl was forced into the act. This is typical adolescent behavior, unless something in human nature has changed since I was a teenager.

But I did not typify this behavior based upon my own personal experience. In December 2004, eleven Fort Worth Trimble Tech High School basketball boys were suspended for basically the same things.

The boys went to Granbury, Texas to play in a tournament, met some girls, sneaked onto a school bus and had sex. Instead of videotaping the incident, they took cell phone pictures.

Of course, this is not Romeo and Juliet of Shakespeare’s day, but surely it is a sign of the time in which we live. The purpose of the cell phone photos, no doubt the same as with Genarlow, was for sharing nude photos with other teens. Maybe the videotaping could be interpreted as child pornography by a stretch of the imagination. Even further stretching the law, it can be made a prosecutable criminal offense. But never were any of these Trimble Tech boys remotely threatened with 10 years of imprisonment. In fact, local religious leaders fought to keep them in public school, instead of being banished to alternative school.

I believe that we can save the child if we treat them as children and minimize the offense to match the seriousness of the juvenile offense. It must be remembered that these are immature children, though they may physically look like adults. By virtue of their age, they cannot possibly think as adults, let alone be held responsible for their underdeveloped mentality. They will do as children do. Teenagers will do juvenile things. But a sin, in this instance, is not a prosecutorial crime.

You suggest: Let's have an 8th amendment argument without tossing young Black girls overboard.

Better yet, let’s have an 8th amendment argument without tossing young black girls and boys overboard in cases of consensual sex where the age differential is within three years. I believe this is the reason none of the Trimble Tech basketball boys were prosecuted. All parties were within the same age range, and equally immature.


  1. Eddie,

    Thank you for responding to my questions in a thoughtful and reflective manner.

    You are right about the absolutely lack of any initiative from local authorities, but historically when local government has failed to do those things which are reasonable to protect their citizens, there has been intervention from the state and federal govenrment.

    I am not asking for military occupation, but public pressure on the City Commissioners of West Palm Beach to DO THEIR JOBS. Clearly, that pressure is not coming from within that community.

  2. Judging from the news reports, the individual whom Mychal Bell and his associates attacked had nothing to do with the noose hanging incident, that he was attacked only because he was caucasian. Does that fit your definition of a hate crime? Do you think Dr. Martin Luther King would have approved of that attack?

  3. Anon:

    No one is justifying the attack, even though it was precipitated by verbal taunting over a previous racially motivated assault against Black students. What is being protested is the arbitrary and grossly disproportionate application of justice in this case.

  4. Did you hear the news? The Georgia Supreme Count freed Genarlow Wilson today! He will not have to serve the remaining years of a 10-year sentence that the court sez was "cruel and unusual" punishment. Visit the Electronic Village and share your thoughts.

    peace, Villager