Some thoughts on the Jena 6 protests

The Jena 6 are a group of black teens who were arrested and charged in the beating of a white student at the local high school in Jena Louisiana. It was the climax of several incidents of a racial nature that started with nooses hanging from a shade tree the day after two black students had sat under it.

The white students who were responsible for what was described as a “prank” were recommended to be expelled (as they should have) but the school board overturned the decision. The students were given 3 day in-school suspensions.

Then other incidents happened:

During the Thanksgiving holiday, someone set fire to the school, reducing the main academic wing to rubble (no one has been arrested, and though a link between what was ruled an arson and the racial discord hasn’t been proved, many suspect there is one). The following day, Bailey was punched and beaten with beer bottles when he tried to enter a mostly white party in town. The white kid who threw the first punch was later charged with simple battery and given probation. The next day, Bailey ran into a young white man who was at the party. Bailey and parents of the Jena Six say that when the man pulled a gun on him, he tangled with him and stripped it away. He was later charged with theft of a firearm.

The tension culminated back at school the following Monday. Justin Barker, a white student who says he is friends with the kids who hung the nooses, reportedly taunted Bailey at lunch (Barker denies this). A while later, an African-American student allegedly punched Barker from behind, knocking him unconscious. Then, say white witnesses, a group of black students that included Bailey continued to assault Barker, kicking and stomping on him. (Jena High student Justin Purvis and other black witnesses dispute this.) Barker, who was treated for injuries at a nearby hospital, was released later that day, apparently in strong enough shape to attend a class-ring ceremony that evening.

A Town In Turmoil

I agree with many who are protesting the unequal justice being applied (the whites involved getting less punishment than the blacks). I just don’t agree with one of the bumper sticker slogans I saw that said “Free the Jena 6”.

The teens have been accused of a crime so just because they may not get a fair shake doesn’t mean we should look the other way in the name of good race relations. The person they are accused of beating was hurt so the event did happen.

Protest the justice system and fight to get them all a fair hearing and see what happens.