Atlanta Responds to The Jena 6

For the last several weeks my head has admittedly been up my ass in the sand when it comes to what’s going on in the world. If it isn’t discussed on WABE between 5:45 and 6am on my way to the office, I know nothing about it. 12 hour work days and the busy social season are providing unwanted shelter from reality.

Case in point – yesterday at lunch I bumped into a few girls from the office in the lobby of our building. One of them joked as I passed about how she called and told me to wear black, and I agreed, but then paused to dig in – since they were all wearing black.

One of my colleagues went on to tell me about the Jena 6, and I quickly turned into a mouth breathing, astounded and disgusted by the behavior of my countrymen.

For those in the same position I was yesterday, The Jena 6 are young men in the town of Jena, Louisiana. At the high school there in Jena, there was apparently a tree on campus. A tree called The White Tree, beacuse only the white kids at the school could/did gather around it. One day, some young black men stood under it, and the next day there were six nooses hanging from its limbs.

You might think this happened in 1956, but it didn’t. It happened in 2006. Here. In our backyard.

So the young men went back to the tree. I would have. They waited. They challenged the backwards thinking redneckness of it all, and it came. Those white boys came back, and what ensued was a school yard scrap. Nothing worse than what you or I saw in our days of lockers and letter jackets, but with much better cause than the justification for the fights of my youth.

The next chapter is where it gets really mind boggling and perverse: the black youths were arrested and charged with Attempted Murder. One of them, 17-year-old Mychal Bell; remains in jail.

Link love to stories about it on CNN here.

I continued on my day more and more aware of all the folks I crossed paths with wearing black. I was inspired by the unity and the support they presented without saying a word. I heard that Morehouse and Clark sent busses of folks to Jena to participate in the protests. I also hear that since Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama was tied up here in Atlanta, he sent representatives to Jena.

Now it’s your turn. What are your thoughts on the situation? Based on a CNN.com online poll, most CNN readers see this as an issue of race, though some of the folks in Jena say otherwise.

Did you wear black yesterday? Did you notice it but didn’t know why? Tell me. I wanna hear.

10 Comments so far

  1. Tashaonda Washington (unregistered) on September 21st, 2007 @ 9:18 am

    While I totally agree with the support of the 6, we have to be careful of not changing the story to make it more dramatic. I think the original story is outragous enough on its own:

    – There was no fight after the hanging of the nooses.
    – The guilty kids were suspended (for only 3 days!)
    – Three months passed before the new incident
    – The 6 boys jumped the victim and beat him unconscious

    I think we should support the 6! They should not be charged with attempted murder but with more reasonable assault charges. If I were to say they should get off with no punishment then I would be betraying my race and heritage.


  2. Eater (unregistered) on September 21st, 2007 @ 9:23 am
  3. jamie (unregistered) on September 21st, 2007 @ 9:25 am

    I agree that the charges are extreme but there needs to be some outrage with the way the Jena six reacted. Is it appropriate to hang a noose in tree- no. Is it appropriate to beat someone in response- no. This is not a race issue it is respect issue and teaching kids how to react to a situation. If these kids are grown and working a job where someone insults them are they going to beat the crap out of them?


  4. Maigh (unregistered) on September 21st, 2007 @ 9:28 am

    Great comments and interesting points, keep ’em comin’!

    eater, how I love you and wikipedia…

    Jamie – do you really believe hanging a noose on a treat is an insult and not a threat?


  5. Dub (unregistered) on September 21st, 2007 @ 9:50 am

    So you feel that the teens should not have been charged after they jumped the other teens?

    Perhaps I am jaded, but I just don’t see how people in Atlanta wearing black shirts really change anything.


  6. ear (unregistered) on September 21st, 2007 @ 10:48 am

    I’m really confused about this. I understand that the original kids involved with the noose hanging should have been more severely punished, but, what does that have to do with 6 kids 3 months later jumping, knocking unconscious and continuing to kick and stomp while on the ground another kid?

    The kid that was attacked wasn’t even one of the kids that hung the nooses. From reports, he was just leaving the cafeteria with his girlfriend when jumped by these 6 thugs.

    I just can’t stop thinking if it was your kid jumped, wouldn’t you want to see the thugs punished? How is it OK to use something that happened 3 months ago and was unrelated to this incident as an excuse to avoid punishment?

    This might be a little too long ago for some, but think back to the Rodney King incident in LA. That was horrible and those cops needed to be punished. But, because it happened, does it mean that some other black person could beat a white person and get away with it?

    How is violence against another human being OK because of the color of ones skin? These six are thugs and deserve to be punished. Hell, the ring leader already had 5 convictions against him for violence (which in most reports doesn’t get mentioned, most reports even gloss over or don’t even mention the kid that was attacked).


  7. Jack (unregistered) on September 21st, 2007 @ 10:59 am

    Hey… Glad to state my two cents on this uber-divisive topic. Like a lot of folk I’m totally confused by this story. It’s hard not to make some serious judgements about a how misguided modern Civil Rights sensibilities are and b) the state of race relations in America in general. Dr. King preached non-violent resistance back in the 1960s. But today black folk are rallying around thugish young men who opted for violence and who beat a white kid to a pulp. And their cause is something to be championed? I’m sorry, I completely don’t “get it” and I’m disillusioned by the whole thing. So, no, I don’t have on black on today. (Truth be told, I didn’t know anything about wearing black.) If I did wear black today, it would be black to demonstrate a state of mourning — mourning the loss of common sense and mourning that today’s Civil Rights leaders are completely unmoored. Needless to say, this must be said: If the races were reversed, can anyone possibly imagine any “march” to free white kids who clocked a black kid — in a six-on-one melee? C’mon people: I need some more explaining to understand why the “Jenna Six” deserve anything other than punishment and societal opprobrium. I just don’t get it.


  8. tiffany (unregistered) on September 21st, 2007 @ 11:21 am

    @ear: an *ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGE* for a beatdown that left the victim so injured that he *was able to attend a party later that night* is a bullshit charge. never should have happened. period.

    the fact that other incidents in which whites were the perpetrators were dealt with fairly or not severely enough suggests that something is amiss in jena when it comes to color and justice.

    nooses on a tree is a death threat given the history of lynching in this country. yet the d.a. didn’t see fit to prosecute those nooses as a ‘terroristic threat’ or the like.

    he did, however, manage to charge 6 kids with attempted murder — and tried one as an adult — for what was an ugly ass whipping.

    the incidents are not directly related in that the nooses justified the beating. but they are entirely related when we’re talking about fairness.


  9. ear (unregistered) on September 21st, 2007 @ 11:37 am

    If you want to get technical, it should be an “ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGE + RACE CRIME”. The kid was out of the hospital and walking around hours later. So, that excuses the act? He didn’t get more seriously hurt so the thugs shouldn’t be punished? So, if a woman is raped, but is walking around hours later, it is excused?

    Back to the nooses… Yeah, I totally agree that was messed up. But it wasn’t a violent act. If you want to get really technical, it was freedom of speech. Are you and everyone else agreeing that someone for example burning an effigy of Bush should be thrown in prison? Or, is the whole freedom of speech thing only OK when it works for you? Just saying that is going to make you people think I support the noose hangers and agree with what they did. WHY is it so FLIPPIN hard to understand that if you are allowed to do or say something, then the OTHER side gets the same? But, if you physically ATTACK someone, you are going to be punished?

    And again, the only reason this noose thing is being brought up is to excuse the acts of these thugs. Even though, the incident again was THREE months ago. Since then, all of these kids had been going to dances, playing football games, etc etc… THREE months ago.


  10. Rashid Z. Muhammad (unregistered) on September 22nd, 2007 @ 10:07 pm

    Ear: The act is not excused. Nobody – not even the white folks’ boogeymen Revs Al and Jesse – are saying that. What they are saying is that attempted murder is a bit harsh.

    Also, there were numerous things that happened after the nooses, one of which was a group of white kids jumping a black kid and not being punished. The ironic thing is that the black kids would have probably gotten off lighter had they kicked some ass when the people who hung the nooses were exposed. I can’t imagine three nooses being considered anything other than “fighting words.”



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