If Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton wanted to "set an example" for the African American community they should simply make it understood that WE ARE ALL ACCOUNTABLE for our actions whether they are racially motivated or not.
I don't know if the percentage of African Americans incarcerated are higher than any other ethnic group, but if so, I think it would be a representation of black on black crimes.
Blanco: No challenge of 'Jena 6' ruling By DOUG SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer
35 minutes ago
September 26, 2007
BATON ROUGE, La. - Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday that the prosecutor in one of the so-called "Jena 6" cases has decided not to challenge an appellate ruling that sends the case to juvenile court.
LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters had earlier said he would appeal the state appeals court's decision that 17-year-old Mychal Bell's second-degree battery conviction be set aside. The court ruled that Bell could not be tried as an adult.
Blanco said she had spoken with Walters and asked him to reconsider pushing to keep the case in the adult courts system. She said Walters contacted her Wednesday to say he had decided not to appeal the ruling.
"I want to thank him for this decision he has made," Blanco said.
Bell, who remains behind bars, was one of six Jena High School teens arrested after a December attack on a white student, Justin Barker. Five of the six teens initially were charged with attempted second-degree murder, though charges for four of them, including Bell, were later reduced. One teen hasn't been arraigned, and the case of the sixth, handled as a juvenile, is sealed.
Blanco made her announcement at a news conference with activists Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Sharpton said he hopes a bond will be set low enough to allow for Bell's release, and he thanked Blanco for getting involved in the matter.
"I want to congratulate her for showing leadership," Sharpton said. "And I want to congratulate the district attorney for good judgment."
Blanco said Walters gave her permission to announce his decision, and that he planned to discuss his decision publicly on Thursday. A phone call placed at Walters' home went unanswered Wednesday.
The case brought more than 20,000 protesters to the central Louisiana town of Jena last week in a marched that harkened back to the demonstrations of the 1950s and '60s.
Critics accuse local officials of prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites. They note that no charges were filed against three white teens suspended from the high school for allegedly hanging nooses in a tree on campus — an incident that was followed by fights between blacks and whites, including the attack on Barker.
Walters has condemned the noose incident — calling it "abhorrent and stupid" in a New York Times op-ed piece Thursday — but said the act broke no Louisiana law.
In the article, Walters defended the aggravated second-degree battery counts most of those charged in the attack on Barker now face. He said Barker was "blindsided," knocked unconscious and kicked by at least six people, and would have faced "severe injury or death" had another student not intervened.
Stranger posted bond for one of 'Jena 6'
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 21 minutes ago
October 1, 2007
NEW ORLEANS - When a 17-year-old at the center of a civil rights controversy in a small Louisiana town left jail, he had a stranger to thank.
Dr. Stephen Ayers, who lives about 135 miles away, said he felt compelled to help the family of Mychal Bell by posting the teen's bond and allowing him to go home for the first time in 10 months.
Bell is one of six black teenagers accused of beating a white classmate in the central Louisiana town of Jena, where more than 20,000 demonstrators gathered last week to protest what they perceive as differences in how black and white suspects are treated.
Ayers, 42, of Lake Charles in southwestern Louisiana, said Friday that he isn't politically active and isn't usually one to "get into things like this." But then a patient whose feet hurt after the march gave him a report on the event, in which Ayers did not participate.
"I was concerned about what was going on up there and thought the district attorney was a bit harsh in his treatment of Mr. Bell," said Ayers, who is black but added that his race was not his motivation. "I really thought it was overkill."
Bell was released from custody Thursday on $45,000 bail after District Attorney Reed Walters announced that he would abandon adult charges against him. Ayers posted $5,400, the required 12 percent bond set by a judge Thursday.
Bell was 16 when he and five other black Jena High School students were arrested in December and charged with kicking Justin Barker, a white student, after knocking him unconscious.
Five of the six students, including Bell, initially were charged with attempted murder, but the charges against Bell and three others later were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery. The case against the sixth youth is sealed in juvenile court.
Bell had faced as many as 15 years in prison on his battery conviction last month, but a state appeals court tossed the conviction out, ruling that juveniles can't be tried as adults on battery charges.
The teen is due back in court Tuesday for the first hearing in his juvenile case. Meanwhile, one of Bell's lawyers said she him to start looking for a new school and possibly a new place to live.
The attorney, Carol Powell Lexing, said that leaving Jena, where his parents live, is for Bell's "safety and welfare."
"Right now, it's not a good environment for him to be in," she said, adding that Bell's family members have received threatening letters.
Lexing, who called Ayers a "good Samaritan," said she thanked the doctor over the phone. Many people offered to donate money for Bell's bail, but Lexing said they accepted Ayers' help because he and a friend, Lawrence Morrow, were willing to handle the logistics.
Morrow, a magazine publisher and host of local radio and television shows, met Lexing when he went to Jena for Thursday's march. Morrow went home to Lake Charles with swollen feet, so he called his friend and family doctor for a prescription.
Ayers asked him about the march and offered to help Bell and his legal team. "He said, 'Whatever the cost is, go get him out,'" Morrow recalled.
Ayers said he isn't helping Bell because he thinks he is innocent.
"What he did was in no way right, and he should be punished for this," he said. "We're not condoning his behavior. We're just saying he needs to be punished appropriately."
House panel to weigh Jena 6 case By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 16, 7:03 AM ET
WASHINGTON - Civil rights activist Al Sharpton says Congress should expand hate crime laws to deal more forcefully with noose-hanging incidents like the one in the Jena Six case in order to squelch what he called a sharp rise in racism.
Sharpton, a New York-based reverend, was to testify Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee about the case of six black teenagers in the small Louisiana town of Jena charged with the beating of a white student. The incident happened after nooses were hung from a tree on a high school campus there — a symbol of the violence of the segregation era.
Since the Jena case began attracting national attention, there have been a number of other nooses found in high-profile incidents around the country — in a black Coast Guard cadet's bag, on a Maryland college campus, and, last week, on the office door of a black professor at Columbia University in New York.
"Nooses, the 'n' word, a Klansman's hood, and the burning cross are the clearest symbols of hate for black America," Sharpton said in remarks prepared for delivery to the committee.
Last week, one of the Jena Six, Mychal Bell, was sentenced to 18 months in jail after a judge determined he violated the terms of his probation for a previous conviction.
Racial tensions began rising in Jena in August 2006 after a black student sat under a tree known as a gathering spot for white students. Three white students later hung nooses from the tree. They were suspended but not prosecuted.
More than 20,000 demonstrators gathered recently in Jena to protest what they perceive as differences in how black and white suspects are treated.