Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jena Six:The Nifong Effect

28June2007 4:28pm CST

Louisiana Teen Convicted in Jena, Louisiana?!

Bell convicted
JENA -- Mychal Bell, one of the "Jena Six" on trial in LaSalle Parish, was convicted this afternoon on charges of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery.

Bell faces 30 years in prison at sentencing.

The trial had resumed this morning at 9:30 in the courtroom of 28th Judicial District Court Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. Following closing statements, which lasted an hour and a half, the jury -- five women and one man -- was charged and retreated to weigh the evidence.

The jurors were told that in addition to the charges Bell faced, they also may consider the lesser and included charges of aggravated battery, second-degree battery, simple battery, or acquittal.

At 11:21 a.m., the jurors notified the judge that they wanted a written definition of the lesser charges, but the judge informed them that the attorneys were not in unanimous agreement on that accord. Instead, he brought them back into the courtroom and again told them the definitions of the charges.

Bell is the first member of the "Jena Six" -- the name given to the six boys charged in connection with the fight -- to go on trial. On Monday, District Attorney Reed Walters reduced Bell's charges from attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit the same -- charges the other boys still face.

If convicted on the original charges, Bell could be sentenced to as many as 30 years in prison.

If convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit the same, he faces as many as 20 years; second-degree battery, 10 years; and simple battery, a misdemeanor, 1 year.

During the day, [27Jun2008] potential witnesses, members of the media and family and friends milled about. A planned lunchtime demonstration by members of the American Civil Liberties Union and other supporters of the Jena Six was canceled after a ruling from Mauffray stated that they were not to protest anywhere he would be able see them.

All white jury selected for first 'Jena Six' trial; no minorities report for jury duty
By Abbey Brown
(318) 487-6387

JENA -- Some cried foul Tuesday afternoon after an all-white jury was selected in the first trial of one of the "Jena Six" -- the name given to the six black students charged in a Dec. 4 fight at Jena High School that, according to court records, left Justin Barker, a white student, unconscious.

Mychal Bell, 17, is charged with aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to do the same after LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters reduced his charges Monday from attempted second-degree murder.

"There should have been at least one black if not more on the jury," Bell's grandmother Rosie Simmons said after court was dismissed Tuesday. "I know they are going by procedure, but I just think more blacks should have been called to serve."

The court summoned 150 people for the jury pool, but only 50 showed up, court officials said. All of the 50 who reported for jury duty were white. Some of the 100 who didn't show up -- excused or unexcused -- were black, said Bell's attorney, Blane Williams.
"I'm always disappointed when minorities don't show up," he said. "There were minorities on that list that just didn't show up."

Williams said he doesn't blame parish officials at all, that they are following all procedures. This is the first time, though, that Williams hasn't seen at least one minority in the jury pool, he said.

"Jury duty is one of the best things anyone can do," Williams said. "I encourage everyone to do their duty. It is the only way for us to safeguard the judicial system."

LaSalle Parish Clerk Steve Crooks said the jury pool for every potential jury is selected randomly by a computer system that doesn't know the race of the potential juror, keeping it random and free from prejudice. The system pulls names two different ways -- from voter registrations and the motor vehicle office.

"The venire is color blind," Crooks said of the list of 150. "The idea is for the list to truly reflect the racial makeup of the community, but the system does not take race into factor."

After the venire is generated, it is published in the Jena Times newspaper. Summonses are sent out to each of the 150 people. Those potential jurors are expected to appear at the courthouse on the noted date unless they call the clerk's office ahead of time and get an excuse approved by 28th Judicial District Court Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr.

Once the trial is called, names from the venire are randomly drawn by a court official. One by one, they are questioned by Mauffray to ensure their qualifications to serve and then questioned by the prosecuting attorney -- Walters in this situation -- and defense attorney -- Williams for this trial. The attorneys have a predetermined number of strikes that can be used to not accept a juror.

After the right number of jurors have been approved by both the prosecution and defense, the entire jury is sworn in and the case can proceed.

Bell's case calls for a jury of six that all must agree on the verdict. His jury is made up of five women and one man. The alternate is a woman.

Questions asked of the jurors by Mauffray included their address, occupation, previous experience with the judicial system, acquaintance with Bell or one of the more than 40 called to testify, if they'd ever been a victim of a crime and their understanding of their responsibility as a juror and the law.

Walters' questions to the jury focused on the difference between "reasonable doubt" and "shadow of a doubt," their understanding of the definition of the crimes Bell has been charged with and their ability to vote for a guilty verdict if the evidence merits it.

During Williams' questioning, he focused on the potential jurors' opinions about what a dangerous weapon could and couldn't be, their definition of serious bodily injury, the degree of exposure they had to the facts of the case and what they thought about fighting.

Bell's parents, Melissa Bell and Marcus Jones, weren't allowed to talk with the media, as they had been selected as potential witnesses. But they did express their unhappiness about being ordered to leave the courtroom when told to do so Tuesday morning along with the other potential witnesses, as is required by law. But Barker, who is also a potential witness, was allowed to stay in the courtroom because state law says victims are allowed to view all court proceedings.

Barker spent most of the day sitting in the back of the courtroom while his parents, David and Kelli Barker, sat a few rows in front of him.

During the day, potential witnesses, members of the media and family and friends milled about. A planned lunchtime demonstration by members of the American Civil Liberties Union and other supporters of the Jena Six was canceled after a ruling from Mauffray stated that they were not to protest anywhere he would be able see them.

The trial is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. today with instructions for the jury and opening statements.


JENA, La. -- An all-white jury was seated Tuesday, to hear the case against the first of the "Jena Six" _ a group of black youths accused of beating a white fellow student amid racial discord at a central Louisiana high school.

Five women and a man will hear opening arguments Wednesday morning at the courthouse in LaSalle Parish, where the black population is only about 12 percent.
Justin Barker
The approaching trial had led to allegations of racism from parents of the accused, who said the original charges _ attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder _ were out of proportion to the crime. The charges carry a combined sentence of 80 years.

However, prosecutors on Monday reduced the charges for Mychale Bell, the first of the teens to go on trial, to aggravated second-degree battery, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years, and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery, which carries a maximum sentence of 7 1/2 years.

It is unclear when or whether prosecutors intend to change charges for the other defendants _ four still facing attempted murder and conspiracy charges, and a juvenile whose name and charges have not been made public. LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters has refused to publicly discuss the case.

Aggravated second-degree battery involves use of a dangerous weapon, according to state statutes.
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Jury selection begins in Bell trial
Town Talk staff
JENA -- Jury selection began this morning in the trial of Mychal Bell, one of the six Jena High School students charged in the Dec. 4 fight at the school that, according to court records, left the victim unconscious and in a hospital emergency room.

As jury selection began, authorities forced the handful of protesters holding signs to stand across the street and not on the courthouse lawn so as not to interfere with witnesses reporting to the trial in the courtroom of 28th Judicial District Court Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr.

More than 35 witnesses were expected to be called in the trial of Bell, 16, who on Monday had his charges reduced from attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit the same to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit the same.

Among the trial witnesses are Bell's parents, Melissa Bell and Marcus Jones, who said they were upset that because they could be called to testify, they could not be in the courtroom with their son. They said they also were upset that another potential witness, victim Justin Barker, was allowed in the courtroom.

State law, though, does allow crime victims to attend the trials of their accused. Inside the courtroom, all of the seats were filled as 50 to 60 potential jurors were questioned.

Outside, bystanders and media -- including a truck and crew from CNN Live -- milled about. Jury selection was expected to continue through the early afternoon, and witnesses were told to report back to the courthouse at 3 p.m. If convicted on all charges, Bell could be sentenced to as many as 30 years in prison.

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- - - - - - - - - Mychal Bell's attorney Blane Williams enters the LaSalle Parish Courthouse in Jena, La., Tuesday, June 26, 2007. Prosecutors reduced charges against a black high school student a day before he was to go on trial Tuesday in the beating of a white student amid escalating racial tensions. Mychale Bell and four other black students faced up to 80 years if convicted of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the December beating.

JENA, La. -- Caseptla Bailey describes this north Louisiana town as quiet _ but with an inescapable undercurrent.

"This is a good town to live in for things like no crime, it being peaceful," Bailey said on Sunday. "But it's very racist and they don't even try to hide it. It's like, stay in your place or else.

Bailey's son is one of five black students facing attempted second-degree murder charges for beating a white student in December, the climax of weeks of racial tension that included nooses hanging from a tree in a school courtyard. Two of the black students were to go on trial Tuesday on the charges, which supporters say are way out of line. "The detective investigating told me it would be simple battery," Bailey said. "My son has never been in trouble before. He's never done anything wrong, now he's facing this. How can that be?"

The five students, plus a juvenile whose name and charges have not been made public because of his age, have been dubbed the "Jena Six."

The two facing trial this week are Theodore Shaw and Mychale Bell.

Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis and Carwin Jones face trial on the same charges, but no date has been set. Shaw and Bell, have been jailed since their arrests, unable to make $90,000 bond.

Jena is a town of 2,900, with about 350 black residents. Last August, a black student at Jena High School, Kenneth Purvis, was told by the school principal that he could sit in the school courtyard under a tree traditionally used by white students.

The following morning, three nooses were hanging in the tree when students arrived at school. Whites in the little town may have dismissed it as a tasteless prank, but in the black community it had far more gravity. "It meant a lynching," Bailey said. "Everyone knew what it meant." Jena High School's principal recommended expulsion of the three students who hung the nooses. But they ended up serving a suspension instead. "That just set all the black kids off," said John Jenkins, father of Carwin Jones. "Wasn't that a hate crime? If anyone was going to be charged, shouldn't they have been?"

The racial tension led to a series of fights between white and black students, Bailey and Jenkins said. On Dec. 4, Justin Barker, who is white, was attacked at school by a small group of black students. District attorney Walter Reed and school officials did not return calls for comment. "I don't know what's going on," said Bryant Purvis, father of Billy Purvis.

"I know the election is coming up. Looks like they are playing politics with our kids lives." Jones, who played football, basketball and track, had enough credits to graduate, Jenkins said.

He was not allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony, however. Jones is working now, Jenkins said. He had several offers of athletic scholarships for college, Jenkins said. But those disappeared when the charges were filed. Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Charges reduced against Bell
Town Talk staff - 25 June 2007

JENA -- LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters this afternoon reduced the charges faced by Mychal Bell -- one of the six Jena High School students charged in a Dec. 4 fight at the school -- to second-degree aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit second-degree aggravated battery. He, along with five other students charged in the fight -- together called the Jena Six -- had faced charges of attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder.

Earlier this morning, a plea agreement for a lesser charge was turned down by another member of the Jena Six, Theodore Shaw, who is on trial this week in the courtroom of 28th Judicial District Court Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr.

Shaw's attorney, Tim Shumate, tried to persuade him to plead guilty to aggravated assault, a felony, against the wishes of Shaw's father, Theodore McCoy. "We are confident to go to trial," McCoy said.

"They are trying to avoid trial because they don't have a case." Standing, from left, John Jenkins, Melissa Bell, Tina Jones and Marcus Jones talk before entering the LaSalle Parish Courthouse in Jena, La., Monday, June 25, 2007. Jenkins' son, Carwin Jones, is one of five black students facing attempted second-degree murder charges for beating a white student in December.Louisiana Teen Convicted

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Slow Demise

"Poor," More than Just a Label By: Lolis Eric Elie 20 June 2007 New Orleans Times-Picayune

A Slow Demise in the Delta
U.S. Farm Subsidies Favor Big Over Small, White Over Black

By Gilbert M. Gaul and Dan Morgan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, June 20, 2007; Page A01

SHELBY, Miss. -- From 2001 to 2005, the federal government spent nearly $1.2 billion in agricultural subsidies to boost farmers' incomes and invigorate local economies in this poverty-stricken region of the Mississippi Delta.

Most residents are black, but less than 5 percent of the money went to black farmers. They own relatively little land, and so they generally do not qualify for the payments. Ninety-five percent of the money went to large, commercial farms, virtually all of which have white owners.

In Bolivar County, where Shelby is located, farmers received a total of $200 million in crop subsidies over the five-year period, while just $11 million in Rural Development grants from the Agriculture Department went to replace the abandoned factories, decaying houses and boarded-up downtowns in dozens of dirt-poor, majority-black Delta towns.

Many of these towns are trapped in a long, painful death spiral, plagued by poverty, crime and unemployment. More than 100,000 people -- nearly a quarter of the population -- have fled in recent decades in search of a better life.

"It's just a sad situation," said Judy Hill, who leads a women's group that is desperately trying to rescue what is left of the small agricultural town of Shelby, which has a cotton gin, two liquor stores and not much else. "There's no industry, no factories, no hope for the future, nothing to keep the people here. And what the answer is, I don't know."

The farm bill that Congress is now crafting is a complex mosaic of competing goals, including income support for farmers, conservation incentives and the preservation of rural communities by spurring economic growth. Farm subsidies are meant to tide growers over when prices fall or when disasters strike. The Rural Development grants, on the other hand, are supposed to help small, struggling communities such as Shelby. Yet in the Delta, farm subsidies are massive, while Rural Development money is relatively scanty. From 2001 to 2005, the Agriculture Department awarded $1.18 billion in subsidies but just $54.8 million in Rural Development grants for housing, new businesses, water systems and other projects, a Washington Post investigation found.

"The policy choice that Congress has made is so stark," said Charles W. Fluharty, director of the Rural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri at Columbia. "You see the effects in lots of poor rural communities. But the tragedy is exacerbated in the minority communities."

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said the importance of agriculture to the Mississippi Delta economy is "undeniable" because it contributes hundreds of millions in state and federal taxes and is "a driving force" behind progress there in the past few years. "The challenge we face centers around ensuring that we pursue the most responsible and fair policies when seeking to sustain our nation's agriculture industry," he told The Post in an e-mail interview.

The wide disparity between subsidies for farmers and Rural Development money for agriculture communities highlights one of the contradictions of federal farm policy, which favors big agriculture over small farms and poor rural towns. In the Delta, it has helped to preserve a two-tiered economy and a widening economic chasm between the races, according to local residents, government officials and researchers.

"You're in the Delta. Most of the real economy is controlled by large families. It has been that way for 200 to 300 years," said Ben F. Burkett, a black small farmer who also works part time for the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives. "We'd like to break that cycle and create new businesses. But there's not much money for that. You see what we get from Rural Development. It's not much, is it?"

Agriculture Department officials declined to comment for this article.

Farmland in the Mississippi Delta has been passed down from generation to generation and built up through acquisitions, with whites controlling most of the land. In Bolivar County, whites now own 421,000 acres, records show, while blacks own 22,000 acres. Because farm subsides are based on farm size and production, most of the payments go to the large operations.

Farm-state lawmakers have repeatedly argued that the farm subsidies will trickle down to the local economies, spurring growth. But as farms consolidate and become more mechanized, there are fewer jobs, especially for unskilled laborers.

"The problem with agriculture is that it's not a wealth builder for the people who live here," said John Greer Jr., director of the Mid-Delta Empowerment Zone in Leflore County. "It's a wealth builder for the few who own the property and the resources."

But the farmers say they would not be able to survive without their subsidies. "I am not getting rich on subsidies," said G. Rives Neblett, a Shelby lawyer and businessman whose family has farmed here for three generations. Farms in which Neblett holds an interest have received about $3 million in federal payments since 2001.

"I understand the disparity and desperately wish there was something we could do about it," he said. "But without the safety net of subsidies for prices and bad weather, we would have no more agriculture in the Delta, and agriculture is all we've got left."

'We've Lost Generations'

When income supports for farmers were first passed during the Great Depression, nearly 1 in 4 Americans lived on a farm. Today, 1 in 75 lives on a farm, and 1 in 750 on a full-time commercial farm. Still, the subsidies flow, with cotton and rice producers in the Delta among the largest beneficiaries.

Despite the payments, many rural economies have seen their populations wilt and have lost thousands of jobs. That is true in poor, isolated farm towns in the Great Plains states, as well as in the Delta, where sprawling farms abut tiny towns like Shelby and Mound Bayou, which are all but boarded up.

This trend is especially pronounced in this northwest corner of the Mississippi Delta, where subsidies and poverty rank among the highest in the nation.

Bolivar County has lost nearly 5 percent of its population and more than 10 percent of its non-farm jobs since 2001, federal data show. Sunflower County lost 6 percent of its population and 19 percent of its non-farm jobs. Humphreys County lost 6 percent of its population and almost 36 percent of its non-farm jobs.

"We've lost entire generations of young blacks because we told them to stay in school and get a good job," said John Mayo, a state legislator who represents several Delta counties. "But unfortunately there's not a good job for them to get when they get out. The smart kids are leaving. It leaves us with the families who have given up hope."

Some officials and residents blame crime, drugs, underperforming schools, an unskilled labor pool and poor work habits for the area's demise, not a shortage of federal aid. Neblett said that children "don't have a dog's chance" of succeeding in some Delta schools.

Mimi Dossett, the Bolivar County administrator, said: "We have had employers who just gave up and left. It takes longer to train people around here because of the poor education . . . and workforce turnover is terrible."

"It's a tough situation," said Willie F. Brown, a member of the Humphreys County Board of Supervisors since 1988. "We hired an economic development person. They leave empty-handed. They come back empty-handed."

One industry that is succeeding in the Delta is casino gambling, which arrived in Tunica County, near Memphis, in 1993. At the time, the county had an annual budget of $3 million and most of the same problems that the rest of the Delta had. Today, it has a budget of $51 million and uses the money for new roads, recreation centers and housing grants for the elderly and disabled.

"The casinos pay great benefits. The wages average maybe $9 to $10 an hour," said Clifton Johnson, the chief financial officer for Tunica County. "Some people would probably say that's not a living wage. But I would say for this area that is a living wage."

Goal Is 'One New Business'

Decades ago, the agricultural town of Shelby was a thriving community with stores and restaurants and a busy downtown. Mayor Dorothy Grim recalled traveling here from a nearby town as a child to do her "shopping and trading." The cotton and rice farms were a source of jobs and money.

But as agriculture changed, so did Shelby. Farms got bigger. Combines went from four rows to six to eight, and now to a dozen. There was less need for unskilled laborers. Less money changing hands.

Small businesses began to close. School integration and a complicated race history accelerated the flight of white families. Today, more than 90 percent of Shelby's 2,700 residents are black. The median household income of $17,798 is less than half the national average. Most of the stores straddling downtown Beale Street are boarded up. Many neighborhoods are scarred with tumbledown bungalows and weed-choked lots.

A few years back, Grim, Hill and a cluster of other spirited women formed a group called Shelby Women United to tackle the town's problems. With a state grant and a lot of elbow grease, they helped transform an old train depot into a library. Volunteers tore down 80 dilapidated buildings and removed abandoned cars. Now, the group is searching for ways to attract businesses and start a chamber of commerce.

"The goal is to get one new business to go into one of these abandoned buildings," said Hill, 66, who moved to Shelby nine years ago and is white. "That would be a good start."

Shelby has received modest help from the Agriculture Department's Rural Development program but is seeking much more. From 2001 to 2005, it received a total of $106,000 that was used to buy police cars and a mower.

"We would like to get more help from Rural Development," Grim said. "But it's hard because we're small and don't have the staff."

In 2005, Congress slashed the Rural Development budget by $439 million as part of a budget reconciliation. The remaining funding is stretched across 40 programs, including water and sewer projects, rental assistance, and grants for police cars. More than half of the awards are loans and loan guarantees, not grants. Four of the 10 counties studied by The Post received no economic development money.

"It takes an enormous amount of energy and time to get anything done that is not farm-related," said Robert L. Jackson, a state senator from Quitman County and director of a nonprofit development corporation.

'They Have No Hope'

Rogers Morris, 61, operates one of the few large black-owned farms in Bolivar County. He grows sweet potatoes, soybeans and vegetables on about 500 acres near Mound Bayou. "We're not impacted much," he said of the federal subsidies. "I maybe get $8,000 to $9,000" a year. "It helps a little. But the subsidies basically go to white farmers."

In the mid-1990s, Morris received a federal grant to help start a sweet-potato processing plant in Mound Bayou. The idea was to provide jobs for some of the young unemployed men during planting and harvest seasons. The potatoes came from the fields of local black farmers. The plant created about 20 temporary jobs, Morris said.

Now, he and several other black farmers hope to get help from Rural Development to expand. Their plan is to use the same facility to clean and process a variety of fresh vegetables and sell them at local markets and to the casinos in Tunica County. "We want to use people who are unskilled, people who are left on the wayside," Morris said. "So many of our people are on the corners. They have no hope. It is a real struggle."

Morris has been more fortunate than many black farmers. He grew up in a farm family and returned here after receiving undergraduate and master's degrees. He has slowly built up his farm and now is able to borrow from a local bank. "Borrowing has always been a problem" for small black farmers, he said. "And borrowing from the government has not been the best, either. That has hampered the black farmer."

A decade-old lawsuit by black farmers against the Agriculture Department alleged a pattern of discrimination. Settlements are still being sorted out and Morris said that he could possibly receive a cash award. The department has since created a program to help minority farmers, but the impact has been modest. The powerful county farm committees, which hire the county Farm Service Agency executive and help enforce federal farm policies, continue to be dominated by whites. Nationally, there are 7,882 committee members, but just 90 of them are black. In Mississippi there are 236 committee members, only eight of whom are black.

Neblett, the Shelby farmer, worries that the economic and education gaps between whites and blacks in the Delta have grown so wide they may never be bridged. "We're now to the point that it is such a culture difference between those who are privileged and who had the education that I don't know how you will close that [gap]," he said.

Pat W. Denton, who is from a prominent white Shelby farm family, recently moved to Cleveland, Miss. He still rents out 1,600 acres back home and is part owner of the local cotton gin. "When I was a kid we had theaters, service stations and steakhouses in Shelby," he said. "Now, it's just going down."

As farmers shift from cotton to corn to take advantage of higher prices, even the cotton gin is emptying out. "We used to do 35,000 bales," Denton said. "We might do 15,000 this year."

Said Judy Hill: "That's what's happening all over. These Delta towns, they're just folding up."

Friday, June 8, 2007

"The Merchandise of Slaves"

I think it appropriate at this time, seeing that we are in an exact "changing of the prevailing winds" as evident in the Persian Gulf cyclone Gonu, which in the language of the Maldives means a "bag made of palm leaves"; and as I think of palm leaves, I can only think of the "triumphal entry of Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord's Christ into Jerusalem". I must say with all the world's perplexity, this is a sign of Christ Jesus, the Lord God Almighty's Return. And, the brown-ness of the people; and even the little hindu boy who wanted to run 500 kilometers, but the government stopped him, claiming child abuse, as he lives in a slum or ghetto; in itself a call to awareness and concern.

A recent article relates the fact of slave's passages in George Washington's Philadelphia presidential home. Paul the Apostle said in Colossians, "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God." The younger generation has been known to say, I would not put up with slavery, I would rebel. However, the biggest rebellion may have been the resistance that submitted to the tormentors subjugation. Now, that certain ways are being unearthed literally and in the courtrooms {James Ford Seale in Mississippi & James Bonard Fowler in Alabama} in America, society may now deal with the unrepentant lacerations of long begone days of yore.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Jena Six:"Prosecutorial Profiling" & Equal Justice under-the-law

Prosecutorial profiling is the real problem with the Jena, Louisiana situation. Beyond the application of racial discord as the prime reason for societal concern, the subjective selection of certain individuals for prosecution while others are not prosecuted is the basis of wrongful prosecutions, convictions and incarcerations.
This is a state wide problem, which must be dealt with as such. Equal Justice under-the-law, in this instance would include prosecution for weapon(s) on a school campus. A thorough, federal investigation for hate crime on a school campus and a Justice Department purview from its Public Integrity Section.

The proported statement by the prosecutor in a school assembly urging the students not to "resist" under the threat of ruined life at the stroke of a pen. Wrongful convictions are prevalent state wide. The U.S. Justice Department's Special Litigation Section is needed in the numerous cases entangled in state courts. At some point it must be realized that these are not mistakes, but blatant attacks on individual freedom. When a person as part of a group is made example of by a governmental entity, this is akin to "legal lynching" or the application of the "whipping boy" scenario. When in days of slavery and thereafter in America, a man was chosen for such certain crimes and brought out public and beat or burned or hanged as an example, it was to establish the fact to all others what the outcome of certain actions would involve. In this case, a black student accepting an invitation to a "teen age" party by a fellow female white student. His, proported advances were heartily rejected by the white males there. And so now, we [Louisiana] have evolved into a public spectacle for all to see. How reminscent of 20th century lynchings in America.

It is no doubt, that the law has been broken in Louisiana. The mistake the world is making is ascribing it only to Jena. This scenario is about injustice rooted in the state of Louisiana since the legalities established in Plessy versus Ferguson. It was only in 1954 that the Brown versus Board of Education was decreed. Since then, we have experienced the arisal of all-white acadamies across the south to perpetuate the "seperate and unequal" mentality. Our poorly understanding youth of today, believing to some extent that all is well, venture to "integrate" in deep south Louisiana. If a black male is found with the "right" white female, the encounter will become rape. But, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Memo to the World:Jena's A Great Place by-Craig Franklin Jena Times

addendum:9 June 2007
And yes kind Sir, in far off D.C., this day with Sojourners, we sweat in the poverty of the black belt, so effectively accomplished upon us. The ploys of political plunderers steadily stealing our state of reality in this vast morass of injustice. We livin' it everyday. forty years. .. forty years . ..forty years

12 June 2007

What happened that day in Jena?
By Abbey Brown
(318) 487-6387

JENA -- "Free the Jena Six" has become a battle cry heard not only in the small community of Jena but also across the country.

But what about the "Jena One?" -- the 17-year-old boy who was knocked unconscious, hit, kicked and stomped on by a group of students, according to court documents?

That's a question Justin Barker's parents ask every day.

"All you hear is, 'Justice for the Jena Six,'" David Barker said of his son's case. "I wouldn't mind justice for the one. It doesn't matter the race -- what matters is what happened to our son."
Three of the six Jena High School students charged in Justin Barker's beating -- coined the Jena Six -- are scheduled to be tried on June 25 on charges of attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder in connection with the fight, which happened Dec. 4 just outside the school's gym.

It was the first day students had returned to classes after a fire gutted the school's main academic building.

The parents of the Jena Six said they are hoping justice comes soon for their sons -- with all charges against them being dropped.

But the Barker family doesn't know in what form justice will come for them.

"There's no good answer to the question of what we want to happen," said Kelli Barker, Justin's mother. "I just wish this whole thing would have never happened."

David Barker said if the boys are acquitted, they may think, "I got away with this once, why couldn't I get away with it again?"

Theodore McCoy, the father of one of those accused, Theodore Shaw, said that even if his son and the other boys had done what they are accused of doing, the charges are still unfair.

"I would like for (District Attorney Reed Walters) to drop those silly charges," he said. "If anything, this was simple battery. If six people really had beat someone up and jumped on him, he would have been hurt worse -- broken bones, teeth knocked out. This isn't justice."

Repeated attempts over the past several weeks to contact Walters seeking comment, including messages left at his office, have been unsuccessful.

Mychal Bell, Shaw and Robert Bailey Jr. are scheduled to go before 28th Judicial District Court Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. later this month. Carwin Jones and Bryant Purvis haven't yet been arraigned. Shaw and Bell remain in the LaSalle Parish Jail in lieu of $90,000 bond each.

Court documents on the sixth student aren't available because his case is being handled in the juvenile system.

What happened?
Investigators from the LaSalle Parish Sheriff's Office have gathered statements from more than 40 people -- a number of them students -- who told investigators they saw everything that happened. Many of these statements were included in court documents.

"When I heard a black boy say something to Justin, I turned my head and I saw somebody hit Justin," one student wrote in a statement. "He fell in between the gym door and the concrete barricade. I saw Robert Bailey kneel down and punch Justin in the head. ... Then Carwin Jones kicked him in the head. ... Theo Shaw tried to kick him so I pushed Theo Shaw down. I also saw Mychal Bell standing over him."

Phrases like "stomped him badly," "stepped on his face," "knocked out cold on the ground," and "slammed his head on the concrete beam" were used by the students in their statements.

Robert Bailey said this past week that he and the other boys weren't around when the fight happened and that the teachers and principal were making students say what they wrote in statements.

Repeated calls to Jena High School Principal Glen Joiner went unreturned.

"It was a rowdy day at school because of what had happened over the weekend," Bailey said of earlier fights at the Fair Barn and Gotta Go convenience store. "The fight (with Justin) happened so quick. But those of us arrested weren't even around. Once the fight broke out, we all ran to see what happened, but I wasn't around when the fight happened." The Spot

On Dec. 1, Bailey said he was jumped by six to seven white men at the Fair Barn and that only one was arrested and charged with simple battery.

Two days later, he and friends ran into one of the men involved in the fight at the Gotta Go and the man pulled out a shotgun, Bailey said. Bailey said he wrestled the gun away, but was charged with aggravated battery and theft.

That is injustice and racism, Bailey said.

Last week Jones said that when he went to school on Dec. 4, he could tell something was going to happen, it just felt that way, he said.

He was sitting in the boys gym after lunch, he said, and when everyone left to go back to class, he was in front of Justin and didn't know what had happened until he "heard the first lick."

"I wasn't involved," he said. "He got hit once, fell to the ground, and that was the end. Everyone just ran up when someone yelled fight, and it seemed like he was getting kicked."

Both Jones and Bailey said they did not see who hit Justin Barker.

Justin Barker was taken by ambulance to LaSalle General Hospital's emergency room, arriving at 12:25 p.m., according to court documents. A report from the ambulance company stated Barker "denies any pain other than his eye."

Once in the emergency room, Barker told medical personnel that he had been "jumped by 15 guys" and was unsure of what he had been hit with, according to the emergency physician's record in the court file. The record noted an injury to Barker's right eye requiring follow-up medical attention and injuries to his face, ears and hand.

A Computed Tomography scan of Barker's brain showed no abnormalities, but there were reports of him losing consciousness during the attack, according to hospital records.

Barker was discharged about 2½ hours after being admitted to the ER. Later that night, he attended a ring ceremony at the school, where he was presented his class ring by his parents, something Kelli Barker said her son really wanted to be a part of, even though he was still in pain.

"All that keeps being said is that he was just in the hospital for a little bit and not really hurt," Kelli Barker said of Justin. "I thank God he wasn't hurt more than he was. But we have medical bills to show that he really was hurt."

According to court documents, the initial trip to the emergency room cost $5,467.

'Issue of race'
Marcus Jones, Bell's father, said the boys are being treated unfairly because of the color of their skin.
All of those accused in the fight are black, and the victim is white.

"The role my son played in this wasn't attempted murder or conspiracy to commit murder," he said. "The charges the DA put on these kids are ridiculous. They are not guilty of no second-degree attempted murder or conspiracy to commit second-degree murder.

"If someone planned to kill someone, they would have done it in the dark, not in front of hundreds of kids at lunchtime," Marcus Jones said. "I just don't know what to expect ..."

Marcus Jones said his son is having a hard time dealing with life in jail. Each day, more and more letters from college football recruiters are piling up.

"Those letters are really killing him," he said of Bell. "He realizes now that jail isn't a place for nobody, especially if you have a promising future."

Kelli Barker said she and her family are not making this an issue of race. The most important thing for the Barkers, she said, is that their son is doing OK.

"One more kick," she said, "and this could have all turned out differently. He could have been killed.

"It has been tough for Justin, but he's a strong kid. All he wants to know is why? He wasn't involved in the fights over that weekend or the stuff at the school. Why him?"

A Ruling for Justice - New York Times

Published: June 12, 2007

For years, President Bush has made the grandiose claim that the Congressional authorization to attack Afghanistan after 9/11 was a declaration of a “war on terror” that gave him the power to decide who the combatants are and throw them into military prisons forever.

Yesterday, in a powerful 2-to-1 decision, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit utterly rejected the president’s claims. The majority made clear how threatening the administration’s policies are to the Constitution and the rule of law — and how far the administration has already gone down that treacherous road.

Mr. Bush, the majority said, does not claim these powers for dire emergencies but “maintains that the authority to order the military to seize and detain certain civilians is an inherent power of the presidency, which he and his successors may exercise as they please.”

The prisoner in this case, a citizen of Qatar named Ali al-Marri, was living in the United States legally when he was arrested and charged with being an Al Qaeda terrorist. In 2003, Mr. Bush declared Mr. Marri an enemy combatant, took him from civilian authorities and threw him into a military brig where he remains today without charges being filed.

The court did not say Mr. Marri was innocent, nor that he must be set free. It said that the law does not give Mr. Bush the power to seize a civilian living in the United States and declare him to be an enemy combatant based on whatever definition he chooses to apply. If Mr. Marri is to be kept in prison, it said, he must be tried and convicted in a civilian court.

The ruling said the Constitution and numerous precedents made it clear that foreigners living legally in this country have the same right to due process as any American citizen. It found no merit in the president’s claim that the Congressional approval of the use of military force in Afghanistan gave him authority to change that or that he has “the inherent authority” to do it on his own. Sanctioning that kind of authority “would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and for the country,” the judges said.

The judges said their ruling applied only to people living legally in the United States and not to the prisoners in Guantánamo Bay. But the court’s powerful arguments may be relevant to a large number of those men. Steven Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the ruling would not help those prisoners who were captured on a battlefield and properly imprisoned as combatants. But there are hundreds of prisoners who were not taken on a battlefield but instead were picked up by the military or intelligence agents around the world and classified as combatants because of their association with Al Qaeda. The ruling said that was not an adequate definition of combatant.

This ruling is another strong argument for bringing Mr. Bush’s detention camps under the rule of law. Congress can do that by repealing the odious Military Commissions Act of 2006, which endorsed Mr. Bush’s twisted system of indefinite detentions, by closing Guantánamo Bay and by allowing the courts to sort out the prisoners — not according to the whims of one president with an obvious disdain for the balance of powers but by the rules of justice that have guided this nation for more than 200 years.

Case gets attention from all over world
By Abbey Brown
(318) 487-6387

A Google search with the terms "Jena Six" nets nearly 1,000 entries.

The phrase was coined by the parents of the six boys arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder in a Dec. 4 fight at Jena High School that sent fellow student Justin Barker to LaSalle General Hospital's emergency room by ambulance

The story of the case of Robert Bailey Jr., Mychal Bell, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Theodore Shaw and an unnamed juvenile has garnered attention from media across the globe.

And professional journalists aren't the only ones writing about the case. The majority of the entries in the Internet search engine are linked to bloggers putting in their two cents with entries such as "Looking for justice in Jena, La." and "Racial tension in a small Louisiana town."
Reporters from the United Kingdom-based BBC traveled to Jena for their story. A Chicago Tribune reporter interviewed a number of Jena residents for his story. And the case is scheduled to be featured tonight on CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" after her staff spent days in the city.

Articles about the case have run in the "Baltimore Sun," London's "The Guardian" and the "New Zealand Herald." The story has even been featured in Egypt's "Middle East Times" and China's "People's Daily."

Bailey, one of the Jena Six, said he has certainly noticed the national and international attention the case has garnered.

"I just hope the attention helps the case out a lot," he said. "I know that what's being done to us is wrong -- I hope others see that it's wrong."

Theodore McCoy, the father of Shaw, who is still in jail, said he thinks the attention has already helped. Theo McCoy-->

"If it wasn't for all the attention, I think they'd already be convicted," he said. "The attention is bringing to light all of the things that are going on and that nothing has been done about it. There are way more problems than just this."

Purvis' mother, Tina Jones, is hopeful that the light shed on the case will not only help her son but the community as well.

"It is opening up a lot of people's eyes to what's going on in Jena," she said. "Maybe after they shed some light on it, they will make some changes in this town. All of the media has been shaking people up a lot, putting them on the spot."

Other published reports
Here are some excerpts:

Mother Jones magazine: "Adolescents Play Pranks...":
"If this sounds like scenes from a 1950s newsreel, that's because Jena is stuck in time when it comes to the issue of racial equality."

Chicago Tribune: "Racial demons rear heads":
"The trouble in Jena started with the nooses. Then it rumbled along the town's jagged racial fault lines. Finally, it exploded into months of violence between blacks and whites.

"Now the 3,000 residents of this small lumber and oil town deep in the heart of central Louisiana are confronting Old South racial demons many thought had long ago been put to rest."

BBC: "'Stealth racism' stalks deep South"
"Three rope nooses hanging from a tree in the courtyard of a school in a small Southern town in Louisiana have sparked fears of a new kind of 'stealth' racism spreading through America's deep south."

The Guardian: "Racism goes on trial again in America's Deep South":
"Jena, about 220 miles north of New Orleans, is a small town of 3,000 people, 85 per cent of whom are white. Tomorrow it will be the focus for a race trial which could put it on the map alongside the bad old names of the Mississippi Burning Sixties such as Selma or Montgomery, Alabama. ...

"Bail for the impoverished students was set absurdly high, and most have been held in custody. The town's mind seems to be made up."