Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Segregationist racism alive and well in the US south

This is from Amy Goodman of Democracy Now: the case of six black youths from Jena, Louisiana who are basically being lynched by the racist legal system there:

AMY GOODMAN: Jena is a small town nestled deep in the heart of Central Louisiana. Until recently, you may well never have heard of it. But this rural town of less than 4,000 has become a focal point in the debate around issues of race and justice in this country.

Last December, six black students at Jena High School were arrested after a school fight in which a white student was beaten and suffered a concussion and multiple bruises. The six black students were charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy. They face up to 100 years in prison without parole.

The Jena 6, as they have come to be known, range in age from fifteen to seventeen. Just over a week ago, an all-white jury took less than two days to convict seventeen-year-old Mychal Bell, the first of the Jena 6 to go on trial. He was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy charges and now faces up to twenty-two years in prison. Black residents say race has always been an issue in Jena, which is 85% white and that the charges against the Jena 6 are no exception.

The origins of the story can be traced back to early September, when a black high school student requested permission to sit under a tree in the schoolyard, where usually only white students sat. The next day, three nooses were found hanging from the tree
. In an interview Amy does with parents of the Jena 6, a mother suggest what we can do to help:
CASEPTLA BAILEY: I would like to leave this message to the people of the United States, that we are asking for a plea to the governor of Louisiana, Governor Kathleen Blanco, to come in and assist, investigate, and do as she needs to do on this case with Mychal Bell, as well as the other Jena 6.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you all for being with us. And, finally, Catrina, one more time, that address that you gave out. Catrina Wallace, secretary of the LaSalle Parish NAACP.

CATRINA WALLACE: Yes, it’s the Jena 6 Defense Committee, PO Box 2798, Jena, LA 71342.