Ineffective Assistance of Counsel: What Blane Williams should have known

On Thursday, June 28, 2007, At the LaSalle Parish Courthouse in Jena, Louisiana, Mychal Bell was convicted of aggravated second degree assault and conspiracy to commit secondary degree aggravated assault. Mykal was convicted because jurors believed he had knocked a white student named Justin Barker unconscious with a single devastating blow to the head.

Mychal Bell was accused of participating in a conspiracy because his alleged victim was stomped by several other students as he lay on the ground. It was explained that the young black males who stomped Justin Barker were co-conspirators with Bell even if they had never agreed to a coordinated attack. According to law, because Bell’s single blow made the stomping possible, an informal conspiracy, or “combination” could be implied.

The alleged assault was “aggravated” because a dangerous weapon was used-namely tennis shoes. According to this reasoning, every fight
participant is guilty of aggravated assault unless he shows up naked. The law is designed to make it as easy as possible to put defendants away for as long as possible.

The Mychal Bell trial has attracted interest from around the globe-accounts have been published in South Africa, Russia, China, Australia and every flagship newspaper in America-with the curious exception of the New York Times. Correspondents invariably note that Jena has been the subject of public scrutiny since the morning in late August, 2006 when three nooses were found hanging from a tree in the high school square. The fact that Mychal Bell was tried by an all-white jury has fanned accusations of racism.

A gifted athlete and solid student with a promising future, Mychal Bell may be forty before he returns to the free world. Judge J.P. Mauffray will hand down his sentence on July 31st. Much has been said about the severity of the charges filed against the Jena 6, Mychal Bell and the co-conspirators. District Attorney Reed Walters originally accused the Jena 6 of attempted murder-charges sentences up to 100 years without parole. A worldwide outcry forced the prosecutor to back off a bit. Judge Mauffray’s sentence will
tell us how he views the proportionality issue.

But more basic questions abound. Is Mychal Bell guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? Did he receive a fair trial? And did Blane Williams, Mr. Bell’s court appointed attorney, give the trial a moment’s thought before entering the courtroom?

I have grown accustomed to all-white juries convicting poor black defendants, but this trial was something new. When “ineffective assistance of counsel” is covered in law school classrooms, this case may become the standard illustration. Throughout the three-day trial you could hear jaws hitting the floor as Blane Williams stumbled through his ill-conceived defense of his client. Hardened journalists were left scratching their heads. This was supposed to be an important trial. Why then, was Mychal Bell’s attorney so ill-prepared?

It’s pretty simple, actually. Court appointed attorneys aren’t paid well enough in most jurisdictions to seriously research the cases they handle. Take a client to trial and you are almost sure to lose money. Some attorneys are willing to take the occasional financial hit in the interest of justice; others are not. Blane Williams wanted Mychal Bell to take a plea offer. Mychal refused. Williams had no choice but to take the case to trial-but he was determined to put no more work into this case than the law allowed. And the law, my friends, allows defense attorneys to do very little if they are so inclined. You get the kind of justice you can afford to pay for.

Reflections in the wake of the Mychal Bell trial

Partisan witnesses
* The ten student witnesses who testified at Mychal Bell’s trial were all white. In fact, most of them were part of a distinct minority within
the high school’s white student population who attended all-white schools in the country surrounding Jena until High School. (More on this below)
* Justin Cooper was the only witness at trial to testify that Mychal Bell kicked Justin Barker as the victim lay unconscious on the ground.
Since Justin Cooper was one of the boys who admitted to hanging the nooses at Jena High School at the beginning of the school year, he can hardly be seen as an objective or credible witness. Defense Attorney Blane Williams was apparently unaware of Cooper’s connection to the noose incident.
* Jessica Hooter was one of four trial witnesses who identified Mychal as the person who threw the first punch at Justin Barker. Two days after the assault occurred, Jessica was unable to identify the initial attacker. But as she explained at trial, “After I thought about it more, I remembered more.” In his closing remarks, Blane Williams never mentioned that she had embellished her earlier testimony. Perhaps he forgot.
* The single male juror graduated from High School with Justin Barker’s father. The tendency to sympathize with an old school buddy whosekid got punched and kicked in a one-sided assault is understandable. It also makes objectivity impossible.
* Midway through the trial, assault victim Justin Barker and his family were seen by ten witnesses (myself included) sharing a convivial meal with several of the students who had testified against Mychal Bell. This suggests that a number of “memory-enhancing” conversations about the incident have taken place between early December and late June. Jessica Hooter likely “remembered” that the unidentified attacker was Mykal Bell because this quickly became the orthodox story in the social circle she move in.

Ms. Martin’s list
* At trial, special education teacher Kristy Martin listed off the names of the boys who surrounded Justin Barker as if they were clear in her memory. Although she was forced to admit that she never saw a single student touch Justin Barker, Martin’s ability to name names seemed very convincing. Martin is the only witness thus far who has provided a list of attackers longer than three names.
* In a written statement, given immediately after the incident, Coach Wayne Spence states that he was taking names of rowdy students in the gym during the lunch hour. “I had a list that Ms. Martin obtained from me,” he wrote. This suggests that Kristy Martin specifically asked Spence for the list of names the day of the fight. This explains why she is the only witness to remember more than two or three members of the Jena 6. Most eye witnesses can’t identify a single assailant by name. Most of the students who gave eyewitness statements after the December 4 altercation at the school make references to “a bunch of black kids”.

The witness no one called
* Coach Benjy Lewis gave two statements immediately after the school incident in which he clearly states that Justin Barker was facing him when Malcolm Shaw (not Mychal Bell) struck Barker from behind. “I saw Malcolm Shaw hit Justin Barker with his right fist to the right side of Justin’s head, right around the temple,” Lewis wrote. “Justin went down face first, knocked out . . .” Most witnesses agree that a single punch knocked Barker out cold. The only adult who witnessed the punch says Mychal Bell didn’t throw it.
* In a signed statement given immediately after the altercation at the school, student Jesse Beard stated that moments after the assault Coach Manning asked him where Malcolm Shaw was.
* It isn’t hard to see why the prosecution didn’t call Lewis to the stand (his testimony would have devastated the state’s case); but how do we explain why defense attorney Blane Williams didn’t call the coach to testify?
* Several people (myself included) noticed Mychal Bell repeatedly handing his attorney pieces of eyewitness testimony during the trial. This suggests that Williams entered the courtroom utterly unprepared for trial.

The green jacket theory
* Two female students testified that the person who knocked Justin Barker cold was wearing a green jacket. Mychal Bell’s statement, given immediately after the incident, suggests that he was initially cleared of responsibility because he was wearing a black jacket. At trial, the “green jacket” witnesses were convinced that Mychal Bell was not the attacker-they knew Mychal and the guy in the green jacket was someone else.
* The “green jacket” identification means that we have at least three mutually contradictory eyewitness accounts of who struck Justin Barker: Mychal Bell, Malcolm Shaw, or an unidentified student in a green jacket.
* Both “green jacket” witnesses insist that Justin Barker was knocked cold, not by a punch to the temple, but by having his head slammed into a concrete bench. Coach Benjy Lewis says that Justin Barker was knocked cold from a punch from behind. Witnesses who name Mychal Bell as the attacker describe a face-to-face confrontation followed by a blow to the head that knocked Justin Barker out. Defense attorney Blane Williams never reflected on the evidence long enough to identify these obvious contradictions.

If Lewis is right; Bell is innocent
* The fact that Justin Barker cannot remember who hit him argues in favor of Coach Lewis’s blow-from-behind account. It must also be remembered that Lewis was the only adult who directly witnessed the assault. He was also the only non-partisan eye witness. If Lewis is telling the truth, the witnesses who identify Mychal Bell as the initial attacker are either confused or, like Jessica Hooter, they are victims of a false sense of concreteness produced by the continual retelling the story in the company of partisan friends.
* Most of the prisoners recently exonerated on the basis of unassailable DNA evidence were wrongfully convicted by confident
eyewitnesses. Memory doesn’t work like a photograph; recollections change dramatically with time. We often see what we want to see.
* All this contradictory evidence makes it impossible to identifyJustin Barker’s assailant with any confidence.
* All those identifying Mychal Bell were highly partisan observers clearly identified with one side of a longstanding and unresolved feud
between the “country” white students who hung the nooses in a tree at the high school and the black male athletes who were particularly outraged by this hate crime (see more on this below).
* On balance, the most persuasive testimony by far comes from Coach Lewis-and neither the prosecution nor the defense called Lewis to testify at Mychal Bell’s trial.

A chaotic scene
* In signed statements, several black and white eyewitnesses referred to students running to and from the scene of the assault. Justin Barker was clearly struck on the face and then intentionally kicked while he lay on the ground. However, it is impossible to determine which of Justin Barker’s bruises and abrasions were the result of intentional assault and which may have been the unintentional result of a panic-induced stampede. All witnesses agree that the scene was utterly chaotic with students moving wildly in every direction. Defense attorney Blane Williams never raised this obvious question.
* Several of the Jena 6 defendants freely admit that they were close to the altercation. This isn’t surprising when we realize that the shout of “fight” at a high school always brings students running to the scene.

“With a stroke of my pen”
* In early September, the three white students responsible for hanging nooses in a tree in the school courtyard were punished with a few days of in-school suspension. The noose incident was dismissed as a childish prank. The following day, black students staged a spontaneous protest rally under the tree where the nooses had been discovered. Several black male athletes took the lead in this protest-the same students who were eventually accused of attacking Justin Barker.
* The decision to treat the noose incident as a childish prank sparked a brief firestorm of media attention in which Jena school officials were frequently accused of racism.
* In early September, District Attorney Reed Walters addressed an emergency school assembly called in response to the spontaneous student protest. With a dozen fully uniformed police officers in the auditorium, Walters warned protest organizers that with a stroke of his pen he could take their lives away. Walters has admitted under oath that he made this remark. His words were not aimed at the entire student body, nor at black students in general-he was speaking to the student athletes we now call the Jena 6. After the demonstration under the tree, Robert Bailey, Carwin Jones, Mychal Bell, Theodore Shaw, Jesse Beard and Bryant Ray Purvis became

A descending spiral of violence
* Evidence suggests that some teachers and school administrators were empowered by Mr. Walters’ “stroke of my pen” remark. Defendants report that in the wake of the school assembly, several teachers became increasingly strict and adversarial in relation to the boys responsible for associating Jena High School with Jim Crow racism. It appears that some students responded to this change in attitude by withholding respect and acting out in ways that encouraged an even more authoritarian teacher response. Discipline referrals for the Jena 6 skyrocketed during the fall semester.

* In the period between Mr. Walter’s “stroke of my pen” threat in September and the assault on Justin Barker in early December, a series of physical altercations played out between the Jena 6 and the circle of boys who supported the hanging of the nooses. The white students had attended all-white schools in the countryside prior to coming to the integrated high school campus. They felt reassured by the segregated school courtyard and were intimidated by the suggestion that black students could sit wherever they wanted. Hence the nooses.
* The laughably light discipline handed down for this “childish prank” was perceived, correctly, as a triumph for students wishing to preserve a segregated school square.

A fire, a fight, and a firearm
* In signed statements, several white and black students mentioned a series of verbal altercations during the lunch hour preceding the attack on Justin Barker. The trash-talking was directly related to a fight at the Fair Barn three days earlier. On that occasion, Robert Bailey and a few of his friends were invited to an all-white student party by some of their white friends. When Robert entered the building he was punched in the face by a 22 year-old white male. In seconds, Robert was assaulted with beer bottles, punches and kicks in a virtual mirror image of the altercation at the high school three days later. The only differences were that the identify of the instigator in the Fair Barn incident was undisputed and that Robert remained conscious after the initial blow and was thus able to minimize the impact of the attack.
* The following morning, Robert Bailey and two of the friends who had come to his aid during the Fair Barn assault were leaving a local
convenience store when they encountered one of the country white males who had jumped Robert the night before. Fearing retaliation, the boy retreated to his truck and pulled out a pump-action, pistol-grip shotgun that looks like something the Terminator might have fancied. When Robert and his friends wrestled the weapon away from their would-be assailant they were charged with assault and theft. Once again, Jena’s New Jim Crow regime was reinforced.
* It is not unusual for residents of rural LaSalle Parish to drive around with firearms in their trucks. On May 10, 2007, Justin Barker was
arrested for bringing a rifle to school in his vehicle. A thorough search probably would have turned up several more illegal firearms in the school parking lot.
* The violent assault at the Fair Barn, the convenience store incident, and the assault at the school followed in the wake of a traumatic
school fire in late Novermber. Everyone associated with the school was in a state of shock akin to post traumatic stress syndrome. Concerned by the wave of violence, several teachers asked administrators not to reopen the school the Monday morning of the assault.

Running his mouth
* Student statements suggest that the student who attacked Justin Barker was responding to taunts that Robert Bailey “had his butt kicked” at the Fair Barn. In the course of this verbal jousting, several students report that Justin Barker “got up in Mychal’s face” and gave Mychal the finger. Tony Knapp, one of three boys who admitted to hanging nooses earlier in the school year, was also involved in this lunch hour altercation. At trial, District Attorney Reed Walters created the misleading impression that Barker was attacked by black thugs looking for a random white victim. He knew better.
* Several eyewitnesses recall that the initial punch was preceded by the shouted words, “This will teach you to run your mother f***ing mouth.” This statement, repeated by too many witnesses to be seriously doubted, makes no sense apart from the trash talking described in student statements.

The sins of the fathers
* This background information demonstrates that the black male students who attacked Justin Barker were bound to a steadily escalating chain of violence and counter-violence.
* This spiral of action and reaction was initiated by the September decision of school administrators to treat the noose incident as a childish prank. When Reed Walters threatened the Jena 6 with life imprisonment if they didn’t relinquish their constitutional right to denounce injustice, the boys were left with no legitimate avenue of protest. In the end, immature white and black males were left to their own devices. The consequences were as predictable as they were tragic.
* The ultimate responsibility for the violence at Jena High School lies at the feet of public officials who refused to acknowledge a hate crime
for what it was. The sins of the fathers are now being visited upon the children.


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152 thoughts on “Ineffective Assistance of Counsel: What Blane Williams should have known

  1. Comprehensive! Thanks for this. I’ve read some of the documents your referring to as well. I’ll send a link over to this page straightaway.

  2. It is unfortunate, that in the year of 2007 and 2008 steadily approaching – in our own country, and in my state, such turmoil has arose from insecure individuals that have played a vital role in this Gobal Case.

    6 Individuals, Americans.. High School Students, stand trial for what they feared would have been the rest of their life if they refused to take a stand.. Not agreeing to the physical altercation, but the mental pressure that one can assume after dealing with such hatred can only provoke an interest of self defense, self-acknowledgement and determination. I think that for every step, those 6 Individuals took towards their undisclosed trial date, they were unaware and uneducated of their potential outcome… I’m more than sure, it could have been just anyone of us.. who have lived in rural Louisiana.

    “Hail our Great State for the Laissez-faire attitude, but yield to the unconditional values and traditions of rural life.” This should be the new state motto – if we all agree to the terms and conditions of the sentencing over these 6 Individuals. Not to state that they should not be upheld to the law, but to the full extent is without question… In addition, how cowardly sustained are the school administrators for allowing such disdain and hatred to channel their hallways and learning facility…. with the least amount of effort, ISS – In School Suspension, was the most that they could do without upsetting some of the towns most prideful individuals.. It is a mockery to the statement, “America, the land of opportunity, ” and “the great melting pot.”

    In conclusion, this is not the first time such incidents have arisen in rural Louisiana… Surely it will not be the last, should the families, friends, neighbors, schools, state officials and the government address such issues in a timely manner that are concurrent with the ideals and principles of education that we have in the years to come.

    The Pride of Louisiana
    C. Bailey

  3. How can this still be happening//// ?????
    WE MUST DO SOMETHING. Where IS the ACLU?????
    As MLK said “There comes a time when silence is betrayal” surely this is one of them.

    Does the naacp have defense teams? How do we organise to get the word out and get these kids a real defense . This just can’t be happening in 2007 CAN IT ?

  4. This article is good work. I’m white and I’m highly offended, and frankly embarrased by what white people have done in Jena. It’s disgusting and the resulting treatment of the boys involved makes the whole thing even worse.

    What causes me even more frustration is that in your portrayal of the story, the black boys all have names. The only white boy, Justin Barker, who was knocked unconscious, has his name published in the account you tell. The black boys shouldn’t be the only ones ‘shamed’ with their names in your article. The real shame should fall on the white boys. Please reprint your article so that anyone can see who are these terrible young men!

    This case puts black-white relations back 50 years. And the fact that the whites don’t know that they are racist, and government and local leadership supports the white boys is disgusting!

    Shame on the Jena, LA legal system. SHAME!

  5. Comments are good. These young people need our FINANCIAL SUPPORT. So, in addition to your comments, PLEASE make a monetary contribution to the Firends of Justice in the name of the JENA Six, and Mychal Bell’s family.

    They NEED money to fight this in the courts — all the way to the Supreme Court!

    Malinda Miles, Mayor
    Mount Rainier Maryland

  6. Mr. Richman asked whether the NAACP is on the case and whether there are defense teams. The answer is YES, the NAACP is involved and monitoring the case. Information with regards to “Support For the Jena 6” has been posted on the NAACP website. Members across America and all concerned about this unjust system have been requested to sign Petitions, Donate to the Jean 6 Defense Fund, Call the Governor and Attorney General and Sample Letters To Ensure That Justice is Observed In The Trials of the Jena 6 have been posted on their website asking all concerned to write to Attorney General Charles C. Foti, Jr. and Hon. Kathleen Babineaux Bianco. To view the information please go the the NAACPs website at and sign the Petition.

  7. This should never have gone to trrial. Blacks get set up and knocked down. If the story is true then Reed Walters is a racist.

  8. This is horrible but typical. It is typically, horrible. I have faced similar injustice on many occoassions here in the state of Maryland. The occurances are possible now an will continue to occur until all peoples of this nation figure out that much of what you learn in civics class about the american justice systems is so much nonsince. It is simply not true. Inocent until proven guily is and an honoarable goal. But it is hardly a reality. When is the last time you read a news paper to learn that some one had been arrested and thought that they may not be guilty.

    The fact is that less than 10% of Americans ever come face to face with the criminal justice system and thus we have no idea how it really works. What we think we know we learn from television.

    To ofen we conclued that because we have lived so many years with out ever having to deal with the criminal justice system that the “the system wont bother you unless you deserve to be bothered”. However, that could not be futher from the truth.

    Perhaps what has happend with this young man may wake some of you up from the matrix in which you sleep. I emplore all of you to, at minimum, to head the words of the District Attorney who apparently these young fold doubted.

    YOu/ we all need to understand that while he me be a racist he also told the truth when he said that he could and would reck those young folk lives with a stroke of a pen. Infact, he sees it as his mandate to do so.

    You need to wake up and realize that Prosecutors are attack dogs. There mandate is to get convictions. It matters not to them if the accussed commited a crime or not. They get paid and promoted based on victories. For them victory is the same as justice.

    Vilifying defense attornyes as illmoral devels is common place. Many of us have concluded that we would not and could not defend a guilty sole. But, few have considered the prosicutor who would ruin a young man or womans life with out regard to there actual culbability. Because is is merely their job to when. From their perspective it is the defense attorneys job to show that the proscutors accusations are falacious.

    Examin for a moment the typical defense attorney. He/she gets paid in advance and reaps no marginal benift if the accused is aquitted and no penalty if the accused is convicted. Would you expect your mechanic to fix your car if he was paid in advance and would have absolutley no negative reprocutions if he did not fix your car.

    Consider the judges perspcetive for a moment. Law books are much like the bible in that, it says what the reader says it says. The judge may interpet the law to the benifit of the defendant or to his deterament. Here is a fact for you that you may have never considered. Judge are picked because of their biasis. This not the NBA! Judges are not picked because some one has concluded that they are even handed. Therefor you need to make sure that you get involved and pick leaders who will pick judges who see the world the way you do.

    I emplore you to check out what I have written. The typical Judge is a former prosecutor who is politically connected and or obliged. Moreover, they are typically very poor lawyes. They are paid substantially less than “good lawyers” and about the same as poor lawyers.

    You all need to understand that convicts to do not typically get off on appeal infact it is very rare. It is rare because higher courts have to give lower courts the benifit of the doubt. So as long as the lower judge was not blatent with injustice his ruling will likely stand. Next and very important, the defense attorney has to object (tell the judge that there is some he is suppose to act upon). If the attorney fails to object the convict has likley lost his ability to have the higher court revisit the issue. You can not resonably expect the judge to wake your lawyer up.

    There is much more for you all to know. Learn more. Pay attention.

    Let me know what I can do to help this young man. It sounds as if the Govenor needs to get involved.

    Be careful.

  9. A Supreme Court Justice ruled in favor of a KKK member; which overturned a 50 year old ban on cross burning in Virginia. Justice O’Connor felt that even though a cross burning might make the majority of people angry or scared, the Virginia law was unconstitutional because it violated Klansmen’s right to freedom of speech. The Klan’s burning of crosses might simply be showing solidity with the Klan’s ideology. Only if it could be proved that the cross burning was done to intimidate.

    The Klan’s ideology is hate. Until we clean up the government starting with the highest office right on down, kids like Justin will produce more kids like Justin because the message is clear. We, the people, send “our troops” across the sea to fight the “War on Terror”, but daggnabbit, we allow terrorists to do their thing, right here at home.

    This was a good report on the incidents and tho’ I may be poorer than those kids family, I am going to donate to their cause.

  10. I obviously don’t know ALL the specifics of this case-but I do know that there is definitely NOT a proper defense being waged for these students. It’s the responsibility of ALL black Americans to protect our children from such wanton misuse and aggregious punishments. I was a little skepitcal about the facts of this case-and I thought to myself, If the boys did severely beat this other child, provoked or not-they should be jailed. But, the fact that most of the “witnesses” weren’t present and changed their testimonies at trial makes me think that the true assailants in this case can’t be, or weren’t, properly identified. I will definitely do as much as I can to help this family and make sure that injustice doesn’t run rampant in Jena, LA.

  11. this is just as disturbing to me now as it was when i first heard of the story last year. and since then, i’ve remained suspect of the nature and supposed “facts” of this case because of the incredibly incompetent and corrupt legal system in place in that small town. the injustice there is so conspicuous. the south is and will always be notorious for this type of overt and blatant racism, marking innocent victims like the Jena 6 and tainting their already shattered image of this land that we call “free” with “liberty and justice for all.” there are many petitions and iniatives in place with several grass roots to local chapters of world renown black orgs up north in order to appeal this case and prosecute the “real” perpetrators: the guilty white students. black folks in jena: stand up! speak out! people across the globe: get up and do something, link with organizers who are following this case, get this story on your local media outlets. it would be a shame to let this atrocity become yet another one to add to the overflow of “sad days in black america.”

  12. It’s such a shame that this is still happening in 2007, for those black students to have to ask to sit up under a tree, that’s part of nature is repulsive. Another thing that bothers me, when OJ was “found not Guilty” White America couldn’t take it, they thought OJ being found not GUIlty as Repulsive as well. It’s dispicable how some people bring their children up. If you don’t want to socialize with blacks and or whites or whomever, then you go your way and let others go their way. What people don’t know how to keep to themselves. Everyone must defend themselves when it comes to that, but I don’t understand how you can pull a loaded rifle on someone and not get charged, bring that to the North, they will get some time. The judicial system is not built for black people to get a fair trial, but that don’t mean we should take beatings and not defend ourselves and our families. I am just too through with this, all those Southern states that haven’t conform with the rest of the USA need to go somewhere and let another kATRINA COME AND wipe them out totally. they can’t win over mother nature.

  13. I think what the whites did is dumb. Do the white boy’s deserve to get a butt whop’n, yes, but not being jumped or a cheap shot from behind the back. Bottom line is the black boys committed a crime. Just because some kids did something stupid does’nt give them the right to go around beating everyone up although those kids deserve it. And I dont agree with the whole town getting all up in arms either. People have to start taking responsablity for there actions.

  14. at 10 years old all i can say is this is racism and i feel it should not still be going on.

  15. Fighting for the freedom of Iraqi’s, huh? I feel said for all those troops dying 3,.000 miles away, especially minorities, who have to come back to such blatant racism. I do not approve of violence but, sometimes we must take “ANY MEANS NECESSARY” to survive in this racist society. The JENA -SIX have my support.

  16. I have just recently come across this story. It had not been broadcast at all in my area. I find that this supposed crime does not fit the punishment. This is 2007 and what has occured is like a flashback in time. I am deeply outraged by the non coverage and by the way this case has been handled. I can not recall a time I have ever heard that a tennis shoe was a weapon. A young man that had a promising future is about to miss out on life because of a school-yard fight that an incompetent “lawyer” could have no I rephrase should have had dismissed. We need to take a look at our justice system and at society as a whole. This injustice needs to cease.

  17. I have just recently come across this story. It had not been broadcast at all in my area. I find that this supposed crime does not fit the punishment. This is 2007 and what has occured is like a flashback in time. I am deeply outraged by the non coverage and by the way this case has been handled. I can not recall a time I have ever heard that a tennis shoe was a weapon. A young man that had a promising future is about to miss out on life because of a school-yard fight that an incompetent “lawyer” could have no I rephrase should have had dismissed. We need to take a look at our justice system and at society as a whole. This injustice needs to cease. It is time for a change for the better.

  18. Why is the young man still in jail? Please write to him at: A DORM LaSalle Correctional Center; 15976 Highway 165 Olla, LA 71465-4801. Thanks. Support the Jena 6!

  19. Why am I just hearing about this now? Where is the media coverage? I am outraged about this as should the entire country? I will be emailing this to as many people as possible.

    needs to be informed

  20. This is the time for the “church” leaders, to stand up and take a stand. This story has been a well kept secret in our neck of the woods. It was only by listening toNPR radio and to the XM channel 169 that I learned about this injustice. Al Sharpton is the only leader of record to speak and to act. He cannnot do this alone, he needs the support of those who would profess to love Jesus and Justice.

  21. Since when is carrying a shot gun into a store not a crime? This whole thing is so racial it is disgusting. The truth lay in the defense of these youths. What we need is a competent attorney to represent them, not one who is unprepared and obviously stupid. I don’t care if these boys are white or black or green, they are not getting fair treatment and that should not be happening anywhere in the US in this day and age. Are we that ignorant that we are going to let the past repeat itself? Have we not grown past this? Apparently not, and I am so sickened by this.


    F. Lee Bailey
    Barry Schneck



    F. Lee Bailey
    Barry Schneck




    F. Lee Bailey
    Barry Schneck


  25. The sins of the fathers are visited on the sons. Six young black men lives are in danger because the adults and authorities who were in a position to prevent these incidents from happening make light of something that was very serious.

    The fact that a whites only tree was allowed on grounds of an integrated high school was the root of the problem. When the black students were give permission to sit under that tree without any consideration being given to the consequences was adding fuel to smoldering fire. And all of the adults and administrators involved should be the one in jail and on trial for their contribution to the delinquencies of these minor that were to handle this volatile issue with the only tools they had.

    When dealing with issue of racial dissention both group of kids revert back to what our parent did. The white kids thought it was time to hang some one and the black kids decided to protest.

    The all white school administrators and the school board which the District Attorney is a member decided that the noose hanging was a childish prank, and treated it as such knowing in their hearts that it was not just a prank, those kids was sending the message, “we don’t want you under our tree” and they were met with the response “we have a right to be there”.
    The racial prejudices our children are trying to deal with came from us, had we done a better job our kid would be spending their time perusing their dreams in stead of trying protest racial issues.

    It’s now time for us adults to act our age and give these young men back their lives. It should have been treated as a hate crime and not left in the hand of the dist. Attorney. The federal government should have intervene the NAACP and all the agencies that we have in place to try and resolved these issues. It’s a crying shame that Mychal Bell only had a Court appointed attorney when the case was a civil rights issue, because if they did not have to defend a civil rights issue none of this would have happen.

  26. I am from a small town about an hour away from Jena. Racism is nothing new in Jena nor has it been a secret. During my time in school, Jena was a place you went in the daylight hours. This whole case is based solely on racism and nothing else. I have recently come from visiting my home town and nothing was even mention of this situation. I had to come four states away to hear about something so close to home. Something needs to be done about the small town. I am sure if an investigation is begun in that town it will be more indepth then the Jena 6. I have heard many childhood tales of missing/killed blacks and nothing was dibe about it. Now again growing up yoo don’t believe any of the stories because you don’t want to believe that things like that are going on. I have rode through Jena a few times going to college and my Mom did not want me to ride through there at night. It was always a place to avoid at all cost if you were black. My daughter job hunting and found a job vacancy in Jena and was inquiring about it and was told not to apply because of the racism that was present and going on there. I just hope this is one sitution that exposed the entire force that is ruling of Jena and turn the tables on many of the residents who have wronged others and even maybe put some of them into jail for 20 plus years.

  27. Its sad that in this day an time these events are still hidden in our country and go unoticed. This new stealth racism is going to tear our country apart. Using the loopholes in the laws to beat down the spirits of youth and control their parents is a 2007 type Willie Lynch letter.

    Some individuals with hidden agendas are using fear and hatred of black people to create unrest in our communities and revive the race wars. They have now began to publish stories saying that bell has a previous criminal history. Well living in a town where you have no avenues to defend yourself and can be charged with vandelism and destruction of property for spitting on the ground I wouldn’t doubt he does have a record. But are the previous charges as unrealistic and excessive as these current charges.

    All people should read and we all should take the time to know the law and become knowledgable of our rights as human beings. So many poor childrens lives have been ruined simply because we were ignorant to the law and could not afford a lawyer to handle our cases. Bell and his family were unaware they could fire the incompitent lawyer during his trial and request another.

    The preachers wife in TN killed her husband and spent less than 3 months in jail she is free today. She is free because a good lawyer took her case probono and succesfully defended her.

  28. We as Young Black America are under attack, what is being cast upon the Jena 6 is the same as what was done to Emmett Teal but this time they are deciding to leave the body and take the soul. The injustice doesn’t stop in the south, america has created plenty of ways to abuse power such as the ever changing drug laws used to put our young away ten plus years. The same government that has built and created the “Project” called the “Projects” are one in the same flooding are streets with guns and cutting back on education. We as a people can not allow this to happen to these kids one has already been sentenced to all he has “22 yrs his life”. Three hundred people is nothing we need to get down there and out match their population. Stand up for what’s right! Stand up for what’s ours! I personally pledge my time and money to prevent this modern day lynching.

  29. You know, I love America, but we really need to stop this. I’m white and I have a lot of Black friends. I dont believe in this racial crap, but I know it happens. I’m also a Christian so I know i’m suppossed to love everybody, but its really hard sometimes. I mean, dont they understand they are stealing these boys lives? They dont deserve any of this, NONE OF IT!


  31. This is a Human Right violation against these young people and someone should pay, get jail time and lose their license and position of authority from the top to the bottom.

  32. This is a shame. I think about the issuses that we have in the United States, but yet our troops are over in another country frighting for oil. It really sad. Im have traveled the world. I can not believe that this is happening in the United States. There is no way that a sign should be place anywhere in reference to “whites only” . I blame the governement. It’s almost like slavery days, the only difference is that we get paid. It’s no wonder why whites think that they are above blacks, issues like this make them seem like they have power. My heart goes out to these families. It’s an embrassment to say that i’m American. They talk about other countries but let me tell you other countries stick together. Whites stick together don’t think that they don’t, we have very powerful Blacks out here but at times they can act white themselves. These young black men need help. So if you are a Black Attorney and you’re reading this please do something to help these young men. As a child you dream of having money, this is one time that I wish that dream would have come true.

  33. Thanks for this post- It’s already proved useful in spreading valuable information but i’ve also passed the address along to friends so they can furthur the spread. This is the most informative blog on this issue i’ve seen so far.

  34. As an American, I am OUTRAGED by the lack of media attention given to this case. While most morally sound American’s recieve a steady dose of Britney Spears & Lindsey Lohan on the evening news, 6 young men will have their lives unfairly condemned to a fate of years behind bars. WOW, what has this country come too!! These news outlets won’t let go of the Micheal Vick story, thou he does deserve to be punished for his utterly stupid acts. I’ve heard more outrage about a so-called “gangsta rapper” performing for FREE at the Virginia Tech memorial, then I heard about this. I guess this doesn’t exist??? This can’t happen in America anymore. I grew up in Louisiana, not far from Jena. People don’t believe the stories I have about growing up in the rural south. Blacks are treated as second class citizens in certain parts of Louisiana.

    The DA in Jena should be removed, plain & simple. The state government needs to step in before this escalates and someone gets killed. This can only get worse. The DA is letting this get out of control.

  35. I’m suprised about the lack of coverage by the media on this situation. I cannot watch the news anymore without feeling that none of the shit they show pertain to me as a black man. I guess i came to a realization that to them were not worth showing unless its obvious that we are guilty of dumb shit like fighting dogs or shooting up a club.

  36. Where is the federal government in all this? Going after Vick for dog fighting. Get after that district attorney right now!

  37. The comments made by District Attorney Reed Walters to the students in Jena sounds like a threat to me. In some states, it is a crime to threaten individuals (especially to threaten kids.) I wonder what the law is in Louisiana. If it is an actual crime, District Attorney Reed Walters should be brought up on charges and tried.

  38. Is it the 21st centruy or what?
    Adolescents act the same, the world wide. All adolescents say out loud or to themselves, it is time to stand up and change things. They say it is a new day. They expect more and want more? And it is OK to change things for the better. However, most young adults do not count on resistance to change, it is unconceivable, it shatters their concept of fairness. The rose colored glasses come off quick when young adults find out the “power of the dream” may take sacrifice.

    The community (Jena, LA) where these six young people live, pushed back hard when the young men sought change. Elememnts in the community with the power of the law at their personal disposal, sent a message that there will be no changes here. Not now not ever. “Any child of God of African descent is going down if they want any changes.” Hate, terror, legal manipulation, and incarceration are not big enough prices to pay if any young person of African descent wants to challegne the status quo.

    The only good thing is that the children are alive and we know where they are. They could all be dead. The elements in Jena, LA knew no one would speak out or help the six young men. And you must wonder what were the families and members of the black community threatened with to make it so?

  39. All I am going to say is this … either you get Educated if you are not or re-Educate if you think you are. I hear this word Black Codes tossed around like a football. Damn near every state had their own Black Codes.

    I am exposing to a few of my co-workers and friends on the history of America and the role Africans palyed in it. I am doing this because there is very little about our history we know. That is why we will always repeat it.


  40. I have known about this story for about a year now and I an amazed that people are in so much shocked at how this case is being handled. I am a 30 year old black woman and my parents have always brought us up in a multicultural area and as I do with my own child, but at the same time I have been taught that I will be judged because of the color of my skin and I am bring my daughter up the same way. I have always felt that racism has been alive and well in this country no matter how hard our media trys and hide it. I support Friends of Justice and even thought I am not a wealthy woman I will try and support you financially in everyway I can

  41. i knew that their were still some people around who were some what racist to others in fact i knew that my own father was not very happy with blacks as well as Mexicans, however i am just lucky that it was my mother who raised me and always taught me to treat others equally no matter how different they are, while i may only be 14 now i have had many friends of different race, religion, and even sexuality (gay/bi), and it has made no difference to me whatsoever (me being white/Christian/straight, myself). I am absolutely disgusted by what i read about this case and like i said although i knew there were some racism still out there i didnt know it was still actually THIS bad any where, i thought we were done with this any of this crap 50 or so years ago. unfortunately i was wrong. i was however (if only slightly) relieved to see at least 1 white family protesting about this injustice in these pictures, had i lived in Louisiana instead of all the way across the country in California, i would have been out there protesting this injustice myself.

    PLEASE PPL DONT LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN if you can help it at all, do so

  42. I want to hear news that could have an impact on my life. Why is this so hush hush. I am an Operation Iraqi Freedom Vet. I can’t believe how there is blatant disregard for these young lives are acceptable in Louisana or any state. This news need to be heard across the states. I have been force fed irrelevant news i.e., superstars addictions, bad decisions and the like. Enough is enough. Freedom ain’t free…especially in this country.

  43. I am appauled at the all white jury. I fell that race play too much role in our sociey. All the evidence was not properly handled. There is a lot of BLAME came when it comes to BLACKS. The Civil Rights Movement was created to protect all people. Why are only the BLACKS being blamed? There was a witness who saw a guy in a GREEN jacket. Where is this witness. How can someone be sent to prision for years for an assault. Paris Hilton was in jail for a few weeks because she is rich. These students are STUDENTS. Does anyone not care anymore about the STUDENTS who are innocent. We need better lawyers and judges who fight for CIVIL RIGHTS and npt the color of a persons skin. I am outraged at the charges.

  44. Ok i have read every single on of your posted comments and seriously guys WAKE UP. Half the world is racist. blacks, whites, asians everybody has prejudice against them. What these white kids did was nothing more than just something to make black people not sit under their tree. people have thier groups, jocks, nerds, emos, blacks, whites, gothic and all the sort. what about the nerd who wants to sit and the jock table. he may have permission to sit there from the administration but the jocks dont want him there. but do you see the nerd coming back and trying to hurt or abuse one of the jocks? NO. these six black guys took this to the extreme, yes there are white who hate black people but they cant do antyhing about it so they jsut need to live with it. it wont change, ever. and the same with blacks some of them hate whites and we cant chage it. racist people are too closed minded and everybody just needs to accept that this world is racist and unfair. these black guys did what is wrong here. offensive things happen to everybody everyday these black guys took it and ran with it and felt that since im a victim of racism then i can do whatever i want and get away with it. that proves ignorance and stupidity. im so pissed off at everyones comments. black people are always the victim. what about how many white people are killed everyday by black gangs and yet you feel sorry for the blacks becuase of where they are and the situation they are in. how come blacks can say whatever they want about white and do whatever they want to whites but when a white person drops the “N” word all of a sudden he’s racist and he gets beat up. whites are more so the victims these days. yet blacks want to be the victims becuase they are a minority. it was wrong what these black guys did. why would you want to defend someone who knocked out someone for a prank. a harmless one at that. the white people didnt start fights with them and verbal assult isnt a crime. everyone who has posted a comment on here are ridiculous. its always the white guys fault. black people dont ever do anything wrong. is basically what your saying.

  45. and another things. the media is tired of exploiting black crimes. if they exploited all of them there arent enough hours in the day to cover them all. so they have to pick and choose. you wanna do something about about it then dont grow up and be a thug or rob stores or shoot up people. actually try to do something with your life instead of ruining society and making the crime rate go up 75%. make something of your life and give back to the world and the economy and see if people dont lower their racism.

  46. I’m a Soldier (20 years of service). I’m ashamed to be a Louisiana native. We must all pray for these 6 young men and educate our children that the scales of justice are not balance for people of color. It’s sad but it’s true.

  47. Incredible piece, better than any news organization has written. Fantastic analysis and accurate reporting. The only thing I disagree with is the alleged fear the shotgun toting white guy claims. He was always the aggressor and fear doesn’t fit the picture. Unarmed men? Yeah, right.

    The bottom line is that Black Americans do not have a country. Foreigners have interveners and whites have America. Blacks have nothing. Even American Indians have reservations and councils, are sovereign and own land. They have an infrastructure. Blacks are different. They are enemies in America and don’t even realize it until incidents like this are made popular. Then they soon forget. Apathy and complacency -after the civil rights movement- allows such abuse of power, Jim Crow injustice and gall from whites like these, in power, who know they can get away with such atrocities, to initially prevail.

    Reed Walters, President Bush, the justice system from the top down, every American citizen and many others are to blame for this social construct. I hope God somehow effectively strikes down the evil ones – arrogant enough to have propagated this fiasco- I hope he does so in a speedy fashion.

    As for those complacent blacks running around the country, your turn is coming too. Wake up people. You blacks still vote by an “act”, not by the constitution. You have never been legally included in this country as constitutional citizens. Do you even understand what that means? You are not considered “We the people”. Reed Walters said, “I can destroy your lives with the stroke of a pen.” It is just like when Satan said, I shall be like the most high God.

  48. I truly and sorry for Mykal Bell and his family because there is still a lot of racism in this country. But I know there is a God who is watching and those White people better step aside. We are all Gods children and no one should be treated that way. But I do remember they use to hang black men and women from the trees and still get up on Sunday morning and go to church. We will pray for the families of the boys.


  50. We all thought that our government would never let a Katrina happen but it did. I have been lead believe that there is such a thing a hate crime law by the federal government but that has not been address yet. These words I say to you STAND UP and let everyone know we will not be stepped on any more if we don’t we will fall for anything. We are a proud and profound, intellgent people and yes we are not givenn any respect by anyone. We are the original people of the world let us not for get. Please let’s not for get the JENA 6 they are out future this could be Florida, New York, Texas, Chicago, but because it happened in the deep dirty south don’t feel it can’t happen no other place……….

  51. This is horrible for this to happen in the 21st century. Unfortunately this is not uncommon. I just moved to TN from upstate NY, and I can’t believe the racist BS down here. These good ole boys really think (and I use that word loosely) they are right. Also, they all claim to be “christian”. This is the most unchristian behavior I have ever seen. People must get out there and protest and make your voices heard!

  52. It is indeed sad, to see the “ideals” of our country and how high we pride ourselves in all that we do as a nation. This nation can never truly move forward until it goes and corrects its past. Correcting our nations past doesn’t necessarily mean to pay reparations to every descendent of slaves or those majorly affected by Jim Crow laws, this means for our justice system to have a backbone, where ever it is, whether it be Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas or New York. Justice is for the people and by the people a wise man once said warning comes before destruction. WARNING!!! WARNING!!! WARNING!!!——-DESTRUCTION!!!!!!!
    God Bless these MEN, for they make me proud to be who I am.

  53. to michael who posted on the 6th of september, you should study some psychology. I don’t make excuses for anybody but lets be rational. Africans were brought to America from a vast economy, yes there were slaves among Africans in Africa. But Africa was so great a nation that no nation has ever reached the economic status it was at EVER! Africans were brung here as slaves, could not speak their language, could not be with their family members. Africans were treated like shit! Africans then turned into blacks who had babies by your great times twenty father but not by will. Blacks were worked like mules, beaten, spit on, hanged, burned, tied to cotton gins…… Blacks worked hard and long and still managed to see some light at the end of the tunnel. When a people is oppressed for hundreds of years it takes serious psychological help to change a negative into a positive. Black people have work hard and long still today. If you ever run low on blood you should think of Charles Drew who invented blood banks around the world or if you need open heart surgery think of Daniel Hale Williams he was the first to perform the operation. I bet you love Fredrick Jones and that Air Conditioning System he invented. Do you like peanut butter? George Washington Carver did that one!!!!!!!!!!! I know you like the telephone you’ve got to Granville Woods refined what Alexander Graham Bell did. Do you have a refrigerator sir? A Black Man Invented that. What about a Lawn Mower or a Cell Phone? To insult any race in such a manner is not only disrespectful but uncanning because you’re the very type of people were talking about. For every screw-up there is a success. Black men do not just “shoot up people or rob stores”. Black people are the reason you go to stores. because at least one of these items you need to buy, maybe not what ive listed but of all the things black people have invented you need at least one thing. Don’t get so self righteous that you can’t see you need black people. For a black man to have come this far with all the apparent hatred and bigotry, I’m proud to be in the number, whether It be my son, my father or my brother, I can see it bothers you to look and see a people succeed.

  54. This is a very sad situation. I prayed very briefly after hearing an update on this matter. I prayed for GOD’S Will to be done. People, get ready Christ will be returning soon. For all of you hypocritical folks that beat the church down on Sunday mornings. For all of you Sabbath keepers who head the church pews on Saturdays. For you other nights and evenings of the week church goers, what is wrong with you? This is your affair to see that this wrong is righted. What is your hold up? Are there any true Christians in Jena? Just a few Christians in that cursed place, surely.

    I tell you the truth. There will be gnashing of teeth. GOD is LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you are in a position to do something, do it. The DA of Jena is a sick unscrupulous character. Repent before God’s Wrath befalls you. For surly I tell you the truth, you will not escape your punishment. You are a wicked, low life piece of work DA of Jena, and you will reap much discontent real soon and in the day of judgement.

    In the meantime, keep praying all of us that are in a position to do so. Prayer changes things. Those of us who are able to have hands on contribution, do so immediately. To stand idly by and do nothing is as bad as taking part in the verbal and physical abuse.

    Where is Opra Winfrey now? Are you willing to come down with a good attorney and some support for these young men?

    May GOD be with them (as I know HE will).

  55. Wow Michael I’m stunned by what you have posted. Reading what was you said prove to me that the point has flown past you by a mile. Let me go over what was said in the article.

    The boys protested after someone pulled a racial prank; (2) the police and the DA was called in to intimidate them to stop their protest. Are you following? Okay try and keep up this is where i believe all sense left you; having no avenue to air their feeling, MEN internalize thing and get violent – let me dumb it down some more — Shuck dem there boys done held in them their feel’um an’ day whup sum-body’s ass.

    Hey Mike this is another piece you missed – according to the report a black boys was attacked at a party and had a gun pulled on him and his friends afterward. In defense they disarmed their assailant and were later charged.

    So black die if they do and they die if they don’t: Can you see where the frustration is building up?

    But I see you have at least a six grade level of education and so have argued the point that people cannot go around hitting each other. I agree but look their only avenue of protest was taken away from them.

    I also agree that American anti-racial laws are one sided. I much prefer the ones in the UK; hate speech should not be uttered by anyone black or white.

    Now let’s examine the school’s action after the original prank. You say that the school should not have given permission to the darkies sit under the tree because like nerds, geeks and chess players black are a part of the misfits of society.

    And it is okay to hang misfits or burn them on crosses.

    I agree that permission should not have been given. The school admin should have seen that this would have cause a problem and should have counselors in the school to speak to the children on racial and social unity especially in schools.

    They should be appalled by the fact that moonies were not allowed to congregate certain places and move to place a ban on anything like that in the school (after all gang turf, God are banned in American schools)

    The school’s action seem to aggravate the situation: by not dealing with the whites or black only spot they say to the students it’s okay to hate. 2. They treated the rope-tied-to-a-tree as a childish prank without trying to understand how the darker school population would feel.( And if you understood the article the mindset of the residents there are hanging a noose is simple childish prank – dragging someone from the back of a vehicle would be a more mature of a prank.) 3. After the sun burn students began to protest the school showed how insensitive they were by calling in the DA and Coppers to threaten the students. 4. The well researched article inferred that teacher with a new sense of power from the DA didn’t try to sooth the sores of the blackies they threw salt in it.

    Now Mike I hope I didn’t lose you but you see how even Job could lose his patient in a setting like this.

  56. In response to “Michael” – your thinking is a major problem with racism and this country and you are totally in denial!

    You say “why would you want to defend someone who knocked out someone for a prank – A HARMLESS PRANK AT THAT?”

    So you call hanging nooses in a tree a harmless prank? I’m pretty sick and tired of white people in this country not understanding the African American plight. Forget what you think you know about that sterile bullshit you’ve read in the history books about slavery. Louisiana was the second largest slave trade state during the antebellum period. FACT! You speak of Blacks always portraying the “victim.” We are not victims Michael. We simply know where we came from and whose shoulders we stand on. Louisiana was built on the backs of slaves. All of the sugar, cotton, tobacco, and rice wealth of today could not have been without the efforts of slaves. My roots are deep in Louisiana as I descend from THE SLAVE OWNER my great-great grandfather, yes he was white. He kept my great-great grandmother as his personal concubine and my great grandfather was the product of that continued RAPE. I have a copy of the bill of sale for her mother who was taken from Virginia, by foot, to the auction blocks of what is now known as the Omni Hotel in the French quarters, Louisiana and sold to the highest bidder.

    I’ve researched the history…and these are the FACTS! Black people were property Michael, second class citizens, thought of worst than animals, held as mortgage, paraded in the civil courts as damaged goods where Petitioners sought financial remedy. When these slave sells took place the wording was such that whites never wanted slavery to end, using terms such as A SLAVE FOREVER…. The following is an excerpt of a petitioner who farmed out a slave. That slave was mistreated to death. The petitioner was seeking $5,000.00 in damages.

    Salutation: To the Honorable the Judge of the Tenth Judicial District Court holding sessions in and for the Parish of Madison, LA
    Filing Court and Date: District, 1853-September-17
    Ending Court and Date: Supreme, 1856-February-25

    Ginger Pop died as the result of having had his “privates” nailed to a “bedstead” and blows inflicted upon him until he “pulled loose from the post to which he had been pinned by driving an iron tack or nail through his penis.”

    Source: Supreme Court of Louisiana Collection
    Book: 3,910

    Another case………

    The petitioners recount several examples of the overseer’s abuse. He abused “a negro man by the name of George, by cruelly whipping him and putting out his right eye;” he abused “another negro man by the name of Claiborne by getting him down and jumping upon his back with the heels of his shoes;” and he beat a third slave so brutally that he later died. Moreover, Gould failed to provide slaves with “blankets or other bed clothing,” pushed women to labor long hours in bad weather, and forced slaves to live in “miserable Hovels not fit for horse stables.” Most of the “breeding women on said Plantations were rendered almost entirely barren, and worthless as such” and “are subject to continual miscarriages,” the petitioners lament, while a large number of children have died.

    There are thousands of cases like these at:

    My grandmother told me the story of a young woman who tried to runaway from a plantation. She had a newborn and was nursing her baby at the time. They sent dogs after her. The dogs tore her naked and ATE her breast right off her body.

    And you say we’re always playing the victim! We know where we came from and we KNOW what happened to our people. Everyone wants to sweep slavery in this country under the rug, as if it never happened. Blacks have fought and continue to fight for our humanity. This incident in Jena, LA sets us back hundreds of years. HATE causes one to lose his or her own ability to experience the gift of humanity Michael. People like you, who are in denial, will question the point of looking back over the past. I know what you feel, “I didn’t own slaves.” “I didn’t do anything to Blacks.” These incidents in Jena serve as a reminder that not all whites wanted slavery to end. My goodness, nooses in a tree in the year 2007! It had to have come from the parents. This type of hatred starts in the home! AND YOU CALL IT A PRANK! You’re just about as ignorant as the school board, who in my opinion is the instigator in all of this.

    No, we don’t want to have the victim mentality. But what do you expect us to do when we see history attempting to repeat itself. YOU NEED SOME KNOWLEDGE!

  57. I remember stories like this from my chidhood in the sixties, but I am absolutely stunned at the recurrence of Jim Crow, even in Louisiana. Surely, there are enough good people to cast their eyes on the community of Jena, to shame them into doing the right thing. So, let’s send out a call to the good people of this country, and let’s get involved in the travesty occurring in these days. There is going to be a peaceful rally of people going to Jena, and everyone is asked to wear black on Sept 20 as a show of unity – black is not for race, but for our sorrow that this is happening.

  58. My name is Austin Bell and i am 17:

  59. That is sad, that racism is not only tolerated, but accelerated by an obviously racist school faculty and town. Those people should consider moving out of the 1950’s and join the present day. The D.A., judge, jury, faculty, and townspeople should be ashamed of themselves, but in the end it will all catch up to them. Ignorance is not something that should be tolerated. It is a sad day for Jena, LA.

  60. I belive that the any of the six cases should not have been tried in there home town that is 85 precent white. All of the cases need to be reopen and reviewed not on a personal stand point. The cases should not be on a black or white thing, but on the fact that this is someone live that hand.


  62. has anyone burned the tree it needs to be cut or burned down and true it didnt do anything but it has a lot of trouble steming from it and people are making it out to be something that has hurt a lot of families. I am hurt that this has happened but this day and age is just modern day slavery nothing is going to change you look around in the south the blacks are still in the back and the whites are up front you can clean their house and cook their food but dont sit to my table. Most white men would jump at the chance to sleep with a black women but you cant tell and I dont know you in the light only in the dark and they are quick to dis own Suzzie when she comes home with a colored boy but they want our color and thats why they tan but they dont want our stigma. They want our man and they still want to be accepted in their families but in slavery time you would be hung for wistling at a white women. So dont ever get to comfortable with them they will cut your throat or catch you on a dirt road and later dump you over a boat, that’s what one did to a black kid in 06 when he found out his daughter was doing this kid except he invited him over for dinner and then took him out on a boat the white man will never be comfortable with us in his family except as a slave.

  63. I am astonished that I just heard about this case yesterday! I am so tried of watching my fellow poor, minorty brothers and sisters being treated badly by the justice system. TO ALL MY FELLOW WHITE PEOPLE WHO ARE RACISTS! GET OVER YOURSELVES, GET EDUCATED, THINK ABOUT IT IF WE TAKE OFF OUR SKIN WE ARE ALL THE SAME.
    I am tired and saddened to watch racism continue in our country. It needs to end now. Racist leaders need to be taken out of power. We all need to spread the word to stop the hate!

  64. Soy de Argentina… como es posible en un país con tantos afroamericanos ricos ninguno le haya pagado un buen abogado a ese chico? me parece que es una oportunidad única como para que se siente precedente de lo que esta bien y lo que esta mal. Es una obligación moral defender los derechos humanos y las personas de color que tienen poder y dinero no deberian dudar un segundo en prestar la ayuda económica o profesional necesaria cuando un hermano está tan impunemente oprimido. De la misma manera que yo me siento tocado por este tema me gustaría que usteden también se interesen por el resto del mundo que esta siendo sojuzgado. El racismo existe en todo el mundo no solo en EEUU y hay que pararlo.

  65. As an attorney, I have reviewed the Michal Bell case and am amazed at the attack on his public defender. I am sure that public defenders, who are over worked and underpaid, occassionally are ineffective in their representation of their clients; however, the broad brush against Michal Bell’s public defender is unwarranted. Let us dissect this analysis with a lawyer who has tried many a case’s eye.

    First of all, let us look at the possible defenses to the charge against Michal Bell, i.e., criminal assault. The defenses must be either (1) you have the wrong person; I did not committ the assault, or (2) self defense.

    You stated: “Mykal was convicted because jurors believed he had knocked a white student named Justin Barker unconscious with a single devastating blow to the head.” You seem to be of the opinion that no other set of facts would have led to a conviction, e.g., he was not the one who knocked the white student out; however, he did stomp him as he lay on the ground. I believe your conclusion is totally wrong. I believe a jury would have convicted him, if the latter were the facts.

    Conspiracy requires proof of an agreement. The spontaneous act of stomping the vicitm does not rise to the level of conspiracy, and note then the trial judge granted the allegedly incompenten public defenders’ motion to set aside the conspiracy conviction. Thus, it is not what you are charged with, it is what are you factually and legally guilty of. The defense counsel was competent enough to to get the conspiracy case thrown out.

    You also stated, “The alleged assault was “aggravated” because a dangerous weapon was used-namely tennis shoes. According to this reasoning, every fight participant is guilty of aggravated assault unless he shows up naked.” That is a mistatement of the law. You do not have to “stomp” anyone after they are down. You can hit one with your hands and fist without stomping them. Therefore, you do not have to be naked; but you do have to refrain from stomping someone with your tennis shoes or any other shoes that you may have on. If he had been wearing steel toe boots would that have been aggrevating circumstances in your mind? A weapon is any instrument that you use to assist you in your assault, thus, your shoes, even your tennis shoes may become a weapon if you use them to stomp an unconcious person.

    You stated: “The fact that Mychal Bell was tried by an all-white jury has fanned accusations of racism.” Thus, you also seem to think that the fact that he had an all white jury had an effect on the finding of guilty. Do you seriously believe that an all black jury would have found him not guilty under either of the above set of facts, i.e., (1) either he knocked the white student out or (2) that he stomped him after he lay unconcious on the ground? I believe an all black jury would have found him guilty as well. Furthermore, it has been reported that jury summones went out to 100 people, that only 50 out of the 100 responded, and than not a single black person was among the respondents to the summonses. I have often tried cases in which black venirepersons come up with all kinds of excuses to get out of the jury pool. If he ended up with an all white jury because no blacks responded to the summones, then that is not an example of racism, but an example of the fact that black people failed him by not making a point of trying to serve on his jury and giving him a fair trial.

    “A gifted athlete and solid student with a promising future,” is how you characterized Mychal Bell despite the fact that he has three prior convictions for criminal assaults. That is why his bail was set at $90,000. How promising of a future does a juvenile who by the age of 16 has three prior criminal assault convictions? He was bound for prison with that kind of history.

    “Is Mychal Bell guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? Did he receive a fair trial? And did Blane Williams, Mr. Bell’s court appointed attorney, give the trial a moment’s thought before entering the courtroom?”, that is your question.

    What preparation could Mr. Williams have for a three time loser who, in response to taunting, either knocked a white racist out or joined FIVE other “steppers” and stomped him as he lay on the ground, blackening his eye and requiring hospital treatment? In every jurisdiction in the nation, that is deemed a felonoious assault; and all prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys are fully aware of the seriousness of such an accusation.

    Note the possible defenses. Did he do it or did he not?; was it self defense or was it not? – those are the questions and that is what you must prepare to defend.
    Let us look at your reflections and Mr. Williams defense in the light of the law.

    Partisan witnesses
    You pointed out: “The ten student witnesses who testified at Mychal Bell’s trial were all white.” The law does not disqualify you as a witness simply because you are white. Furthermore, what race would you expect them to be in a school that was 90% white?

    Let me ask you a question? If you were at a black family’s reunion, and six strangers came upon the scene and knocked out and stomped one of your family members, what race would the witnesses be? Furthermore, would they not be partisan? That is the nature of cases. Witnesses will generally be acquainted if not friends of the victims and of the same race!

    You then went on to state: “Justin Cooper was the only witness at trial to testify that Mychal Bell kicked Justin Barker as the victim lay unconscious on the ground. Since Justin Cooper was one of the boys who admitted to hanging the nooses at Jena High School at the beginning of the school year, he can hardly be seen as an objective or credible witness.” Rules of evidence as to credibilty requires that one show that a person gave a prior inconsistent statement or that they have a reputation for not telling the truth. Hanging of a noose does not render your testimony incredible. Note that Mark Fuhrman was impeached because he denied that he had used the “N” word; not that he used the “N” word. It was the fact that he lied in answering the question that allowed the defense counsel to impeach his testimony. Not the fact that he was a racist.

    You then stated that “Defense Attorney Blane Williams was apparently unaware of Cooper’s connection to the noose incident.” And what if he was? Bell was not being tried for punching anyone out or stomping him due to the hanging of a noose. Since proof of lack of credibility under the rules of evidence would have required that the defense attorney show that Cooper had made a prior inconsistent statement or had a reputation for lying, the noose incident was not a proper basis of impeachment and no question could have been put to Cooper about that incident.

    You then stated, “Jessica Hooter was one of four trial witnesses who identified Mychal as the person who threw the first punch at Justin Barker. Two days after the assault occurred, Jessica was unable to identify the initial attacker. But as she explained at trial, “After I thought about it more, I remembered more.” In his closing remarks, Blane Williams never mentioned that she had embellished her earlier testimony. So, what? She was ONE of FOUR witnesses, not the ONLY witness. Even if you throw her testimony out, you still have THREE witnesses identifying Michal Bell as the person who threw the first punch, and that is more than enough to convict.

    You then said, “The single male juror graduated from High School with Justin Barker’s father.” You did not state what opinon he had of Justin Barker’s father. He may have hated him. The mere fact that they graduated togther does not make him a high school buddy and disqualify him. The law disqualifies him only if he states that the fact that he went to school with Justin Barker’s father would cause him to lean toward the prosecution’s side of the case. How often we trial lawyers have tried cases in which jurors have some connection to witnesses. That does not disqualify the juror. Only if the juror admits that he would be biased because of the connection would the juror be discqualified from serving on the jury, or the connection must be one that rises to a disqualification as a matter of law.

    You then went on to point out that Justin Barker and his family remained friends with the witnesses who saw him get punched and kicked as though that is something strange and thus resulted in “lying” witnesses. Taking my family reunion example, if someone murdered one of your relatives, under your theory the witnesses would be lying because they are all members of the same family.

    Ms. Martin was but one of many witnessess called for the prosecution. Moreover, her testimony was not necessary to convict Bell of felonious assalut. Remember, you pointed out that FOUR witnesses testified that they saw Bell punch Barker out. Your defenses are nonsensical defenses that in no way defeat the prosecution’s case.

    Coach Wayne Spence list does not overcome nor place into doubt the testimony of FOUR eyewitnesses who testified that Bell punched and stomped Barker.

    Your next quote: “The witness no one called: Coach Benjy Lewis saw Malcolm Shaw hit Justin Barker with his right fist to the right side of Justin’s head, right around the temple. Justin went down face first, knocked out Most witnesses agree that a single punch knocked Barker out cold.” I guess by that that some witnesses testified that several punches were thrown before Barker was knocked out and one of them was thrown by Bell. Your argument then is that the defense counsel should have called Lewis as a witnesses. You do not state what other testimony Lewis would have presented to the jury. Would he have testified that Bell kicked Barker after he went down? If so, I would not have called him as a witnesses, and that may be why the public defender declined to call him as well.

    You staed, “It isn’t hard to see why the prosecution didn’t call Lewis to the stand (his testimony would have devastated the state’s case)” That is not true. His testimony may have contradicted that of the other witnesses, but it would not have devastated the case. Again, he may have testified that Bell kicked Barker after he went down. And that may explain why defense attorney Blane Williams didn’t call the coach to testify!

    You said, “Several people (myself included) noticed Mychal Bell repeatedly handing his attorney pieces of eyewitness testimony during the trial.” You do not know what he was handing him. All you know is he was handing him pieces of paper during the trial. Williams like all trial attorneys probably told his client to write down any observations that he had during the testimony, instead of making oral statements to him during the trial, as Williams needed to be attentitive to the testimony so that he could raise proper objections. Thus, your statement, “This suggests that Williams entered the courtroom utterly unprepared for trial,” could not be gleaned from the information that you provided.

    In your report on the green jacket theory you showed that there was much contradictory testimony as to who and what knocked Barker out. It is left up to the jury to weigh that evidence. That does not require a not guilty verdict, for it is left up to the jury to weigh that evidence and to determine whether or not it leaves them with “reasonable” doubt. They can still find the accused guilty.

    Even if it was Malcolm Shaw that knocked Barker unconcious, that does not mean that Bell is not guilty, for he is accused of being one of SIX person who physically assaulted Barker. Thus, he is guilty if the jury simply finds that he did the “stomping” even if he did not deliver the knock out punch.

    “If Lewis is right; Bell is innocent,” you argue. You obviously did not listen to the judge’s instructions as to the law. If Lewis is right, Shaw threw the knock out punch and Bell did not; but that does not mean that Bell is innocent. He is stil guilty if he threw a punch before the knock out punch or if he tapped danced on Barker after he was knocked out. THERE WERE FOUR WITNESSES THAT TESTIFIED THAT BELL “STOMPED” BARKER AFTER HE WAS KNOCKED OUT! That makes Bell guilty of felonious assault in every state in the Union.

    I note glaringly that YOU DID NOT OFFER THE NAME OF ONE BLACK PERSON WHO WAS AT THE SCENE WHO WOULD TESTIFY IN BELL’S DEFENSE. Not one black person who would testify that Bell never punched nor stomped Barker. Yet you disparge the public defender who called no witnesses because he had none who could help Bell’s defense!

    Keep in mind that Bell has three prior convictions. He could not even testify in his own defense or the prosecution would have been able to ask him, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” And what would his answer have been, “Yes, three times.” Now what effect do you think that would have had on the jury? What effect do you think that would have had on an all black jury?

    In fact, the public defender could not even call any character witnesses in his defense. Why, because he was not of good character. He had three prior convictions for assault!

    As a lawyer, I am appalled at how you as a layman with not a clue as to the difficulty faced by a public defender in defending a three time loser who had not a single witness who would testify that he had not thrown a punch or stomped Barker while he was unconcious, would attack that lawyer’s professionalism.




    For pointing out the seed that actually FUELS racism in this country. It is the inability of individuals to look at things objectively and to remove personal feelings and biases when weighing facts. FACTS!!! I don’t doubt there is racism in America. There are people out there who dislike others simply because of their color. But we often label things as racism when they are truly not. Perhaps Mr. Barker disliked Mr. Bell because of who he was, because of the ideas and actions of the friends they supported, because of the hillbilly music or the baggy clothes. Who knows. Racism is not disliking someone because they drive pickup trucks, spit tobacco juice on the sidewalk, and sport cowboy hats. Racism is disliking someone because they are . If you dislike someone because of their ACTIONS, that is not racism. That is personal preference and there is NO law against that.

    What if there were a white talk show host who defended the actions of the “noose-hangers” on national TV. Would that spark public outcry of racism? Would the ACLU get involved? Let’s look at this from a different angle. What if Barbara Walters said the following on her daily talk show – The View…?

    “You know from their background this is not an unusual thing for where they come from,” said Walters. “There are certain things that are indicative to certain parts of our country. They are from the South, from the Deep South … This is part of their cultural upbringing”…

    This is NOT an actual quote from Barbara Walters, but it’s what Whoopie Goldberg said in a recent discussion about Michael Vick’s alleged dog fighting ring. I simply changed who spoke the words. Doesn’t this make Barbara Walters sound racist? Funny how different the consequences of speaking the same exact words can be when they come from people of different races.

    Now, in Michael Vick’s case, this statement is easily arguable since Mr. Vick hails from the deep southern state of Virginia, just 2 hours from Washington, D.C. But as for the community of Jena, La. this is literally a small town saturated in southern tradition. They obviously haven’t evolved as quickly as the rest of the U.S. This does not make it right and I am in no way defending any of the actions of either party. My intent is to make people wake up and realize that RACISM is an OVERUSED ACCUSATION.


  69. Elbert,

    Very interesting comments and a good perspective from the birds-eye view of a lawyer. I take it you were in the courtroom during the trial and that you are a defense lawyer. How would you have handled this case? How would you have place the case in the context of all the events that had led up to this incident? I think the purpose of your comment was to respond to the accusations that the PD did not do his job and I think you did that quite well. I think it is possible that the Jena six are quite guilty of what they are accused of , yet also call into question the way the system is handling this. Too often this is framed in a way that the character of the defendents blurrs the concern about equal justice. I think the way this has been handled by those in authority in Jena is as much a cause for review and investigation as is the conduct of the Jena six. The Jena six should be punished if they did what they are accused of, the question is are they being punished more servely because of race? Again I appreciate the comments you made above and the perspective you brought to this subject.

  70. For this to go over like this in the year 2007 would be like 10 steps back for all races, I mean here it is I though at least we were farther in the growth of our judicial systems and Laws…This is truly surprising!!!

  71. Thank you, Elbert!

    As a journalist, I read through this with dismay. The barrage of opinion made it impossible for me to agree with the writer. Instead of supporting evidence, he offers innuendo and supposition time and again. The entire piece is clearly slanted to evoke strong emotional response.

    That does not serve justice.

    Most disappointingly, there’s not a shred of information as to the extent of injury suffered by Justin Barker. The writer has made Barker more of an attacker than Mychal Bell! He implies that Barker’s comments simply got him what he deserved, and that the ONLY reason anyone at all is being prosecuted is racism!

    I wish I could side with either Barker or Bell – but if I am to decide based on this seriously flawed piece of writing, I can’t.

  72. hatered painted as racism is evil at work!
    Former Justice O’Conner did not want to prohibit the free speech of a known KKK member; so she ruled it alright to burn crosses as long as it was not to intimidate. Wow, and we wonder why the so called defense attorney for the Gena 6 worked to free these youths from the Jim Crow system that they are subjected to — Point is the attorneys for these youth did what O’Conner did– they did not want to upset the way things were with the good ol boys and the way things should remain. After all, if those who practice hate toward those of the African diaspora keep in power, and keep themselves separate, then they keep themselves free of the n*gger; And to keep free from the n*gger is to keep up the ol Jim Crow ways even in 2000 and beyond.

    If these young men had money to pay for a real defense to operate in their favor, the boys would not be in jail all of this time; would not have their college career suddenly halted; would not have their names plastered all over the headlines, while the whites who were involved names remain unknown, huh?

    If these young men were not n*ggers to the DA, the school, and other government officials we would have no need for the Defense fund.

  73. The Law in Jena would serve as The Defense, against injustice if the youth of the African diaspora were looked upon as HUMAN not just some n*ggers upsetting the good ol boys way of “this is how it is around here”.

    Justice denied to Blacks in America, is justice denied to all, even you White America. Don’t think that your court rulings, your sympathetic support, and Jim Crow practices dont affect you directly. Your refusal to call evil what it is, has allowed your children to become even worse than your Slaveowning ancestors.

    If hanging those nooses from a tree is consider a childlike prank, then what was it when Hilter invited Jews to the gas tank? was that a prank?

    I respect the Hitlers, Musselinis, and Husseins, and Ben Laden more than those who the actions against the Jena 6. Why? Because these men in power had the courage to admit that they were vessels of hate — they did not hide behind the courts and use court appointed lawyers to screw up a case. No, they just did what they did with bold conviction.

    Show the world Jena, State and Federal, and Supreme Court that you support justice for all, not justice for us (white america) only. Why should we need to raise money to fight for justice, when the taxes we pay to the governement and its people who work in the system get paid to do that as our representatives.

  74. Such a tragedy and an embarrassment to the state i live in and was born in. More embarrassing yet is that, though I don’t live in a rural area, having spent time in parts of rural Louisiana and Mississippi, i can totally see this happening. It’s also interesting how little this was reported in the news around Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I’d like to say I’m in disbelief, but sadly I’m not.

  75. Elbert pls ans in repsonse to ur post:

    You said

    First of all, let us look at the possible defenses to the charge against Michal Bell,

    it has been reported that jury summones went out to 100 people, that only 50 out of the 100 responded, and than not a single black person was among the respondents to the summonses

    Q. How many summones were in fact of African American and/or Black Americans; How is this verified?

    Your said:
    “A gifted athlete and solid student with a promising future,” is how you characterized Mychal Bell despite the fact that he has three prior convictions for criminal assaults. That is why his bail was set at $90,000. How promising of a future does a juvenile who by the age of 16 has three prior criminal assault convictions? He was bound for prison with that kind of history.

    Q. Do you live in Jena? If so, do you live as an African American or other? Let’s agree that three prior convictions for criminal assaults are fact and true. Did he get convicted because he’s the n*gger or did he get convicted because he was rightly convicted by an unbaised, non racist judge and/or jury? Cause with that kind of history he is not bound for prison if he has the right hookup, like money and friends of the Justice system.

    You said:
    “Is Mychal Bell guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? Did he receive a fair trial? And did Blane Williams, Mr. Bell’s court appointed attorney, give the trial a moment’s thought before entering the courtroom?”, that is your question.

    Q. Before the publishing of this foolish book, “If I Did it”, many White Americans believed O.J. did do it; Just as many believed these African American boys “did it”; Now that O.J. has published the book many more if not all believe he really did it. And it appears more evident that he did such an evil deed. How do you establish that these young boys were indeed guilty and not presumed, or judged guilty before they were charged; All reports that I have seen lends to the thought, that these African American boys were guilty of being Black while at a White Good Ol Boys Club, oops, while at school. If they were in let’s say, N.Y., Atlanta, Los Angeles, or Washington DC when this happened, then I could readly agree with you that it is a more fair method toward justice that was applied. Just like the case of O.J. if Furman had removed himself for the process and not set up his own evidence, then we would not have to find out later what many believed to be so, a decade ago.

    You said:
    Hanging of a noose does not render your testimony incredible. Note that Mark Fuhrman was impeached because he denied that he had used the “N” word; not that he used the “N” word. It was the fact that he lied in answering the question that allowed the defense counsel to impeach his testimony. Not the fact that he was a racist.

    Q. If Fuhrman was on racist, then why did he practice behavior closely assoicated with being one? Yes his testimony was dismissed because he lied about being a racist, he knew that to be associated with being a racists would bring a negative impact upon the jury to see him as a credible witness. So if a LAW enforcer is seemingly a racist, he then takes the law into his own hands and perverts justice, or does the fact the Cooper admit to hanging the noose clears him as a racist? Not so. Clearly, the racist mindset of those in charge in Jena has mudded the waters of pure justice. They know how to serve the law, however, justice for the African American boys will prevail. And justice for the African American is justice for any American.

    You said:
    You then said, “The single male juror graduated from High School with Justin Barker’s father.” You did not state what opinon he had of Justin Barker’s father. He may have hated him. The mere fact that they graduated togther does not make him a high school buddy and disqualify him.
    Q. Did they hate each other? Were they friends? Were they both racist? Were they favorable to segregation? Were they supporters of showing brotherly love toward Blacks?

    You said:
    Taking my family reunion example, if someone murdered one of your relatives, under your theory the witnesses would be lying because they are all members of the same family.

    Q. Was this a family or was this a public instituiton. OH — it was family, because they were protecting their Good Ol Boys status. No n*ggers allowed, in our schools, barns are stores, and when they, the n*ggers do retaliate, we the Whites have to law to hang um, because we are the law, it this what might be going on in Jena?

    You said:
    As a lawyer, I am appalled at how you as a layman with not a clue as to the difficulty faced by a public defender in defending a three time loser who had not a single witness who would testify that he had not thrown a punch or stomped Barker while he was unconcious, would attack that lawyer’s professionalism.

    Q. As a layman who does not hold a Degree in Law, do you really believe that I would have NO CLUE as to the difficulty faced by a public defender? And the fact that you state that you are a lawyer, I find it disturbing that you have already judge the African descendent as a 3-time loser. What do you judge the others, the White boys as being? Was the innocent or were they just never charged by the law? Is it lawful for them to just beat down the African American and not be brought to justice? Is it lawful in any state of the Union that the White American possess firearms as these young men did, and threaten the other boys, African American, an not be disciplined by the law?

    I am for justice, when it is blind to ethnicity. I don’t need a Law Degree to SEE that the application of the law for the White American in Jena is not the same of the others.

    You said:
    would attack that lawyer’s professionalism

    Q. Do you uphold the professionalism, or do you despise those you are suppose to uphold under the law? Do you practice to be an agent of the court, to fight for a just application of the law for all who are hired to defend? or do you judge the client first, then proceed as if he/she is guilty? When you suppect that your client is not innocent, do you just judge them as such, or do you put on your best to uphold your position of authority to do your best and provide a legal defense for you client? If you are more interested in providing a legal defense for you client then you are with a layman challenging your professionalism, then you would appear to be a credible witness to your profession.

  76. This is the 1st I have heard of this case and I am saddened for every child involved. All the Elders and authoritives involved in this 3 ring circus ,and No one has stepped forward to try and resolve the problems that started this hole thing. If it must be this insainly crazy lets go all the way and incarcerate the three white children in an adult prison as well. it seems to me Mychal was just taking an eye for an eye.

    in case you did not notice the point here is :
    should we really charge them at an adult level?

  77. Hearing about the Jena 6 incident was very appauling, disgraceful, and pathetic. It was a cowardly act of stupidity and racism. (This article was very much well written might I add.) Racism has been actively happening for a long time. And to many people of the world and United States feel that it needs to end, its very effortless. What can people gain from it? NOTHING AT ALL BUT HATRED AND UNJUSTLY ACTS OF VIOLENCE. Skin Color IS ONLY WHAT IT IS, Skin Color NO ONE ASKED TO BE BLACK, WHITE, PINK, PURPLE, OR ANY OTHER COLOR SO WHAT GIVES PEOPLE THE RIGHT TO JUDGE WHAT COLOR ANYONE IS. Jesus layed his life on the cross for ALL, not for only one color.

    Bell needs our help and it is up to the people to help this guy and the others out. This is unfair treatment and judgement of the court and laws. This case truly shows that the court really didn’t care about what was going on because they had alreay stated and agreed on what was going to be done to the Jena 6. The court should be on trial for unlawful conduct other than the Jena 6. Now its time to act like we were when the Katrina incident happened and we shall all overcome the racial line and become one to help Jena 6 overcome their trial and tribulation of unfair judgement.

    We are Praying for you Mychal and believe it or not we are trying to help get justice for you and the others!!!!!!!!!!!!

  78. I am a retired Army sergeant and while on active duty I worked hard training soldiers on how to be fair and just. I have also preached responsibility and citizenship as a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) instructor to Black, White, Asian and Hispanic high school students. Who, in the country can justify a lesson of court approved racism? Who is training our judges, district attorneys and elected officials? I am not in the classroom any longer, however this story must be told to our youth. This is a clear example of the officials in the court system running-a-muck and distributing hatred and racism. Our youth must be made aware of the wrongs as well as the rights, and they also need to know that not all elected and public officials are worthy of their position. The Jena Six has pulled back the curtain and opened up the window to gross injustice in Louisiana. I believe that our beloved Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King would be proud of them, I know I am.

  79. What about the VICTIM? You know, the guy that was jumped by 6 count them 6 people! Does he not deserve justice? This sounds like a hate crime. 6 black guys who hate this boy because he is WHITE! I say they should be charged with a hate crime. Throw ’em in the slammer! If AL had his way the boy in the hospital would be the guilty party. Abide by the law and you should not have to worry! Kick a kid in the head numerous times with the help of your 5 cohorts and you should accept your punishment like a man!

  80. Because of the previous comment I know that racism is alive and thriving within people like ELBERT!
    You just proved to everyone why the nooses were hung in the first place! Racism begins at home. And it was not an accident that it found its was to school. I hope your not raising any children to follow your foolish ways. Because if you really believe THESE YOUNG BLACK MEN (NOT LOSERS) ARE GETTING A FAIR TRIAL YOU ARE A fool!!!

    Lets do more than say this is a shame! Lets do more than talk about it today and forget about it tomorrow! Do whatever you can to make this a better place for our kids, grandkids!


  82. I am not a racist but it seems that many people want to be a sensationalist and raise a lot of controversy about an issue such as this. Especially all of you people who weren’t personally involved in what we are discussing. You are numb to what occurred from such anivory tower. Pvdugas you seem to think hanging nooses in a tree is worse than physical violence. The act of hanging the nooses did not threaten anyone’s life. It was an inappropriate and racist act for sure.
    This blog is very biased and tends toward a skewed, sensationalist view of the issue.

    “The law is designed to make it as easy as possible to put defendants away for as long as possible.”

    Is it? Many people get off with minor sentences for being resposible for multiple deaths. What do you mean by this bias statement? Do you want lesser sentences for everyone? This sentence is quite extreme and impossible to prove, making it perfect to stir up this hive. This blog is riddled with extreme and biased statements like that.
    Anytime a black person is convicted of a crime against a white person everyone screams “racism!” Just like whenever a white person commits a crime against a black person it’s automatically a “hate crime”. Why are the witnesses unreliable just because they are white? Aren’t you being hypocritical? Are the black witnesses therefore completely reliable because of the color of their skin? Most of you are racist and still have not realized that racism is a two way street. The NAACP likewise is a racist organization who would have you think black people deserve special treatment because of the color of their skin. Such blatant racism under the banner of civil rights. All of you should be ashamed of wasting your time trying to defend criminals who go around beating up innocent people and just wake up to who the real victims are. The guy who got knocked out and kicked on the ground. Re-read Michael’s comment and give it some more thought. It’s not ok to be racist just because someone committed a racist act against you. When will you people get it? I bet none of you have a clue of how the justice system really works.You don’t know how it was “designed”. Get over yourself. Do you have a law degree? Have you been around for the last 200 years? You all just think the system of justice in this country was born yesterday? It’s there for a reason, and justice is served on a daily basis. It’s there to put people behind bars who beat people up. You all probably just get your information from slanted websites and you only read the headlines with the catchy and sensational phrases. Stop whining about how our system is so corrupt and think about how people are still stoned to death in 3rd world countries or dismembered for stealing bread. Yes, in 2007. I for one, am happy these scumbags are rotting in jail. If you knew the victim, you would change your tone real quick. Get a life. When you’re ready, look at the facts, and stop reading the bullshit that bloggers give you via sites like these. Elbert also gives a balanced analysis of this posting. Sorry if it’s not catchy and exciting and emotional, but it’s the facts.

  83. To Elbert, very welll written, and valid points. It is amazing how uniformed people will try to make a case and create an issue where there is none. After all is said and done, isn’t the fact that a student was beaten, regardless of the attacker(s) race, the issue? The reporter ignores this fact, and makes the story about the attackers and their “inability” to receive a fair trial, when in fact, as you have pointed out that the system did the best it ocfuld with the individuals involved.

    For all of the people who have written on this blog defending their “minority brothers”, etc., you should educate yourselves and understand one undeniable fact…. your “leaders”, (Rev. Jackson and Rev. Sharpton), do not want racism to go away, they want to perpetaute it for thier own personal gains. To get my point ask yourself this one question…. if racism were to end today, what would Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson do for a living? They certainly would not have the benefits of attaining the levels of wealth and public stature they have without the issues. Would Al Sharpton have a nationally syndicated radio show? Probably not. That is the real reason they run to every racial issue, it’s to stump for their careers. The Rev Dr. Martin Luther King would be appalled at the way this has all changed, and ashamed of those people who are perpetuating the hatred for their own gains.

  84. i really think that its a shame that we still have to face the fact that we are still liveing in races times. i hate that these boy have to go throw this. they are the same age as i am and i couldnt bare being lock up for something so stupid and un fair. they really need to change the laws my grandma said that down in the south their are alot of hideen laws down in their against blacks people.i pray for these 6 and i hope that they all get an fair judgement god bless class of 08 rocks.

  85. I also think this appauling…. these hoodlums will go free because of poor litigation.. Stick and stones…. it seems more and more violence is condoned by the black community as response to anything negative about their race… this is crap!!… the liberal press and Rev. Jackson and Sharpton should be ashamed that they have jumped in front othe camera’s again…. What about the Christian/Newsom murders in Jan of this year… not the first mention in the press!!… but the Duke Rape case was all we heard about… Lies… the charges are a bit exsessive and these but these guys need to realize what they did was excessive but again they will probably walk and realize that they can commit violent acts against whites and get away with it… they beat the white kid while he was down…. that people is hate in action…

  86. Thank you, Elbert, for a sane, legal and fair reply.

    I just finished reading Associated Press and other media outlet stories, then all these posts, and finally your sharp analysis. The outcry to the Jena 6 reflects how much anger and resentment simmers just beneath the surface of blacks, whites and all Americans.

    Unfortunately, grandstanding and inciting hostility seem to draw the media cameras, and not rational minds.

    While I believe racism remains a tragedy of the human condition. the US has no corner on it. Religious/cultural bigotry remains a bigger killer (see Darfur, Rwanda, Cambodia, etc.)

    And finally, the injustice in our criminal justice system, I agree, remains a national and personal tragedy: money buys freedom. I believe racial injustice in the courts is driven by racial ECONOMIC disparity and not merely RACE: see OJ in 1994.)

    Thanks again for taking the time to look past the emotion and apply some true justice.

  87. I am a white woman who has reviewed the facts and opinions in this case. Iam reading the blogs on this site and I notice that you all say we as white people are racist. Please read your comments about us above, and then try to say your not racist. Everyone has a racist streak in their body. I don’t feel like Im a racist person. I have great friends who are black, and hispanic, but I agree that the six boys who committed this crime should be held responsible for their actions. I believe that if they were all white and the victim was black I would feel the exact same way. This was a cocky, racist white kid who deserved to be punished more for his actions by the school officials and his parents. The people who are responsible for the beating of this boy are the people of the community (black and white). We have to teach our children that taking punishment into your own hands is not the answer. In a community like this where the law officials, school faculty, and parents aren’t getting involved the kids have nowhere to turn. Anger is esculated into violence with the ending result being a beating of 6 against 1. Did he really need to be beat after being knocked unconsious? Thats the question here. The people who should be tried are the parents of all of these kids for not teaching their children how to deal with this kind of thing. Children are taught to handle things with violence. I am also exhausted with the comments from todays young black people about slavery. You were not a slave. Granted you might have had ancestors that were slaves, but that does not entitle you to act as if you were one. Please stop trying to make yourselves victims. Stand up for your rights and the rights of others no matter the race. The fact are this young man was beaten by 6 other young men. period. It was wrong and they should be punished for it. The young white man should have been punished for his actions but the fact that the 6 young black men took that into their own hands makes that obsolete. If we allow children to punish each other this is the cycle it takes.

  88. I think that the issues here go way beyond the way that this case has been handled by the defense attorney. With regards to this entire incident black people are asking
    1. Why is the issue of white persons hanging nooses on a tree over which there is a dispute between whites and blacks not considered a hate crime and why has no one been prosecuted for that? I listened to one news article where the DA allegedly said that there is no law in the state of Louisiana under which a person could be charged for hanging a noose on a tree. Does this therefore mean that there are no laws against hate crimes in the state of Louisiana? Or is he now trying to divorce the incident from the thought process behind it.
    2. Let us put aside the issue of race since people who see this situation as okay seem to be happy to do that. After the Columbine shooting and in light of the shootings at other schools including Virginia Tech I believe that a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the school system to deal with students who threaten other students. Warning signs of impending violence are now carefully screened in school. How can the school justify overlooking the incident of hanging nooses on a tree as a direct threat to the minority student body. I can’t even conceptualize how it could be considered a harmless prank. Those kids who killed people in columbine did far less than this before they became killers. In addition, the issue of race is already very inflammatory even without nooses hung from trees. Was the school not concerned about the safety of the entire student body. Was it less important that this threat was made against the black students? Okay here the issue of race again rears its ugly head.
    3. Why were no charges brought against the white students who assaulted black students. Did the black children’s parents suddenly think that it was okay for their children to be struck by white students? Again unfortunately race rears its ugly head.

    I believe that had the threat issued by the white students been given the weight it deserved, and had EVERYONE who was guilty of felonious assault (based on the definition given in the last post) been brought to trial and been sitting in jail instead of going to school, not just these six young black men, black people would probably not be so incensed. However what is happening here is all too familiar to black people. A series of very, very prejudiced events leads up to a situation in which black people are left holding the bag then all of a sudden white people tell us to forget everything that happened and just look at the facts of this case. Well to be honest we officially find that unacceptable now! The same way that the law can be bent so that Paris Hilton can get out of a year-long jail sentence in only five days and sent to a rehab center or where ever she was sent, is the same way that the law can allow these young men ordered to counseling and probation – not jail for 15 years. Its obvious that it can be done because it has been done before but never for a poor black person!

    Black people are not asking for special treatment – just the treatment afforded to the majority with whom they live in this country would be enough!!!!!!!!!!!!

    PS: I was speaking with a Nigerian friend once about the fact that America perceives the African continent as largely ignorant. He said to me – ‘let them think that’. Africa needs to be left alone to build and establish itself and get over the devastation of slavery and colonialism. As long as they think that they will not see us as a threat and will leave us alone. So for all of you my brothers and sisters who find the posts of people like Michael offensive I say – let them think that. They need to leave us alone to build our families and communities. Let them think that there are no black men in our communities and that our children are illiterate, that all we do is form gangs and run on the streets. Let them think that we have some kind of violence and stealing gene because we have the ability to produce melanin. Let them underestimate us. That way when protests like the one in Jena happen where our young, educated and strong black people stand up together it will be a surprise. Let them go on thinking that way because they won’t be prepared for who we are.

  89. Elbert on Sept 17…Wow. Just goes to show you that there are different ways to view everything. I was sold on this injustis but you brought the real issues to a different light.. There is NO DOUBT that RACIAL HATRED is the core of this situation !!!! I guess where I’m having a hard time is that where do we draw the line..Yeah the boy had convictions on him before, how much relavance can that have considering we know how the black community esp. in that area has to fight and defend themselves on a regular basis, whos to say that that was not the way it was in all of them.. I come from a very small town in Indiana and I know about racism, it happens regularly. I also know that whether you are black or white in a small town if you are singled out by the law you might as well forget it because they will be all over you like flies on shit.. What else do they have to do.??.. Politics play a strong role and so does money. If you mess with the wrong person and they have any financial pull there voice will be heard and they get what they want.. THATS A FACT!!!!!

    I went to vocational school in the nearby town of Plainfield.. There were girls there from all over ( country and city) We all got along very well and when wee wanted to hang out after school thats when the reality hit me..

    The black girls from the city had been warned by there families.. They had heard of our “redneck” town ( realy the whole county )and did not want there kids coming to our town and esp. at night.. and never without there brothers or cousins…That broke my heart!!!

    I knew that racism was real but I guess I never knew how much. My mom had a friend at work in the city who knew a lot about landscaping and offered to help my mom and when she mentioned his name to a neighbor ( which was a “black”name) they told her that for his safety and for our family she should not bring him there.

    I had met a boy and befriended him at an under 21 club in Indianapolis and wanted to take him to my Homecoming dance.. I knew that he would not be welcome but I didnt care. It was bull shit that I couldnt take who I wanted.. I WAS GONNA SHOW THAT SMALL RED NECK TOWN they couldnt push me around. Those days were gone. It was 1994…Well word got around to one of the upper classman and he came to my house with his friends and threatened to meet my friend at the county line. I still didnt care untill my mom found out the problems it was causing and even though she understood and supported me she told me to back off and think of him and the safety of my family.


    I’m not sure where I stand on the specifics of this case but I do believe that it stemed from the way the school board handled the nooses. How incensitive can you be and what kind of an example are we showing our kids.. My kids are small but so help them God if I found out that one of my kids was involved in something so horrific the punishment of the school would not matter because Momma could beat there ass and make them research and understand what harm there actions caused!!! Thats called being a GOOD PARENT!!! I dont want my kids to be a part of nor have to witness such cruelty.. Kids go to school to learn not defend themselves..

    Man, I could go on and on.

    I have several friends of different ethnic back grounds and when we are in public (esp. if it is a man… A BIG STRONG BLACK MAN ) people stare and not because we look like such a cute couple.. The looks on some of the faces is as if they think they need to save me (that cute little white girl)… I’ts sick, but real!!!

    We all bleed the same blood and we all came from the same God so why is it so hard to let people be who they are and allow each other to be PROUD of who we are!!! I’ts not that hard….. Theres good and bad in all “colors”…

  90. I don’t its right the way our country handles matters like this!! Its really not fair and it should be handled with the highest level of authority! They should have taken it to the Supreme Court!! I live in Florida and when “black get into fights with whites” they just get expelled from school and put into the detention center for 21 days if they’re a minor. Its ridiculous the way they do us blacks! Its jus not FAIR!!!!
    THEY NEED TO FREE JENA 6 and thats the truth!!!

  91. ……………………OUR HEAVENLY FATHER,

  92. Both sides are at fault. Especially the school and parents of both parties, who should have seen what was going on and should put a stop to it, by way of dispute resolution. The posse that exacted revenge by way of a battery on the individual proved to be the wrong way of exacting justice for an offensive and tasteless prank. The results for those men living by the sword has put their freedom at the judgement of a jury of whom they have no say who the members are and into a system of justice all be it ,one that has some questionable procedures, that will be addressed at a later date by superior courts. The lesson shows that those who seek out their own justice must accept the consequences of those actions.

  93. I have read this, article and read the replies.

    I too am interested in how and who in this century this can allow this to continue.

    Sometimes, what there is a too much emphesis on something you can make a mountain out of a molehill. Do we really need the President to comment on this? Do we really need famous rock stars to donate money? Does this mean that the judicial system is so poor and ill-managed that we need this kind of support? If so, then is should be welcome and rewarded. If not, do you do more damage in over-reacting?

    Are we repeating what happened in Florida with the girl in the hospise, where the family sued to keep her alive, and the husband removed teh feeding tubes?

    Or the buy that jumped off the cruise ship and killed himself after suviving a hate-crime?

    What I see are several teenagers that have personal opinions that may not be acceptable in the US or this state. However, ‘alleged’ noose props hanging from a tree to provoke someone or warn them I don’t see as a crime. Granted, I can see this as a symbol of dis-respect for both parties. I dont see any crosses burning or other symbols that would be more clearly a racial issue.

    The fact that this tension boiled over to an altercation causing battery and damage should not go unpunished.

    I would also think that if you can connect the noose issue to be percived as a threat that too should be punishable, and not considered a ‘prank’.

    I would say that there seems to be many ‘elements’ to this crime and flow of events, and we those that read this should ask ….

    ‘Just how much effort is proper?’

  94. Today, me and many of my other fellow classmates wore black to support these students. I’m in eighth grade and i am a white female. I was so mad when I heard about this story. I felt proud to be wearing black today. What has happened is unfair, cruel, and stupid. I respect african americans for who they are .. not because of the color of there skin. These boys being put on trial for something so infair is just a sign of racism. I think it’s stupid!!



  97. I would like to start, by saying I lived in the pj.s in rockaway ny. I was forced to pull three african american girls on a sleigh in the middle of the summer, down the street while tied to a harness to pay for the sins of my people!! my color to me was unnecessary. I love any and all people, I actually feel shame when I cant speak the language of any individual who talks to me, chinese, spanish, hisitic we should all be considered america. we defend our nation, every single nationality. we as americans should be outraged at any behavior, that causes pain or insult to our fellow americans. black is a color, so is white. we are human , ….americans, love and respect each other teach WE ARE AMERICANS weather brought on a ship or in shackels I dont respect people that try to defeat others. Due to a predjudice, I will travel to say I LOVE YOU, and guess what you dont have to know what it feels like to be black because to me your not black your family we are all related in this country, call for help Im not rich but I will help where ever I can. GOD BLESS

  98. I understand that these children should not just get away with this assault on this young man. I also do not see why they have to be punished when the assaults on them never made it pass a slap on the wrist for the white kids. However no one seems to see that these black kids had to deal with this racism on a day to day bases and no one of higher position helped them. Those boys that placed the nooses in the tree should have been expelled from school for the rest of the school year. That was teaching those kids that racism is okay. That was not a prank that was a hate crime and if that issue was addresses the right way the first time this would not have went that far. I feel that the law let the 6 young men down over and over. What about the young black boy who was jumped at the party, sure he was not unconscious but none the less he was jumped by several white kids what was done to them. These black kids feel that no matter what the white kids do they will not get punished, but their lives can be changed at the stroke of a pen. I feel the DA that made that statement to those kids needs to be impeached from his position. When that statement was made it let the white kids know do what you want this is your town, and the black kids walk lightly because I can end your life at any time. Yes these black kids are wrong if they assaulted this white boy but who was there when they received all their abuse from these white kids. Address that issue before you try to end the life of 6 young men with their whole life ahead of them out of racism and not justice. I do not see any justice in this trial nor any punishment to the white kids that started all of these problems. If those white boys can get away with all they did, then the black boys should do the same. This was a school fight that when wrong and would not have went that way if the adults in charge would have done their job in the begin. If none of the people in their high positions can not see that this case is purely tried on racism and stop this then this town is going to be turned upside down. This makes me feel like there is no justice in America like I raise my kids to believe. I have three boys and I want them to know and always believe that America is fair and justice , please do not prove me wrong. LET GO OF THE RACISM AND LETS ALL BE AMERICANS . THERE SHOULD NOT BE BLACK OR WHITE JUST PEOPLE……….

  99. My only comment is that righteousness and justice be carried out. this is outrageous in the 21st century. Injustice and unrighteousness still prevails. Until men’s hearts are changed, these types of situations will continue to go on. Only Jesus can change the heart of man.

  100. I am a white Southerner. I have always lived in the South. I grew up in Louisiana. I have been to Jena and I have friends from Jena. I can honestly say that the article above is about as ridiculous as can be. First, about Jena: It is a small rural town of less than 3000 people. Folks there are nice people – white and black. There are communities all over the South like that. People all get along. Everybody knows one another. It wouldn’t pay to have strife of any kind. People around the country and around the world don’t see this because they have preconceived notions that they refuse to give up. These kids’ parents probably went to school together. Even if the kids all went to different elementary schools, they knew each other from football, baseball, etc. The author is implying that these kids have been sheltered and didn’t have exposure to black kids. They were intimidated? Be realistic. The situation isn’t anything close to the one described in this article.
    Now let’s look at the “crimes. ” According to the article and the comments that followed, the first crime was the noose incident. How did it go again? Ah yes, a poor black child asked politely if he could please sit under a tree and get a few minutes of shade to protect him from the unbearable heat of the “black” side of the school yard. After being cruelly rejected, the student body with the encouragement of the school and the town, hung nooses in the tree to warn all blacks of what terrible fate awaits them if they attempt to enjoy “white” shade! Riding in on powerful steeds, came six defenders of justice! Star athletes, men of integrity and pride, protectors of truth, justice , and the american way stood up to the evil doers. In order to maintain white supremecy, the local authorities fabricated the charges against these young soldiers of civil rights. These special heroes, the Jena Six, were willing to go to prison or even die if necessary for their people and their struggle against tyranny.!!! WOW, I almost have ME convinced. Let’s look at what really happened. The author’s time table is wrong and his facts are so bogus they have become lies. First, background: People hang out with who they know best. Especially in a town with less than 3000 people, and less than 300 blacks, you can imagine that the blacks hung together. They have a lot more in common with each other than they do with the white students. The white kids had their cliques too. Because there were so many more, they broke into different groups – the nerds, the jocks, the stoners, etc, just like every other school. One of the white groups used to hang out under a particular tree. When you were in high school, didn’t you hang with your group in a particular spot? I did. The black kids puffed out their chests and stood under that tree to show they were bad asses. I’m not condemning them for it. They are highschool boys! That is what highschool boys do, especially the athletes. My group did the same thing. Everybody is a cocky ass at that age. It was hardly a protest. Protesting and protecting civil rights was the farthest thing from those boys’ minds. Nonetheless, it was that action that brought on the nooses. Let’s look at the nooses: I can guarantee you that just like the black boys asserting themselves by standing under the tree, the two or three white boys were only doing the same thing. The black boys weren’t really wanting trouble, and neither were the white boys. It was just adolescent behavior. The nooses weren’t meant to be a threat of violence. They were meant as “hey, screw you.” Nobody took it seriously except the school authorities who suspended the white boys for it. I’m sure the boys’ parents were plenty mad and chewed their butts for being so immature. Contrary to the way it has been portrayed, racial tension was not escallating. They had a successful football season with blacks and whites working together on the same team and things were fairly normal. They were so normal, that some WHITE students invited a black kid to a predominantly white party. Would that ever happen if the atmosphere described existed? The black kid was confronted by a 22 year old, not another highschool student. Why did he confront him? Because a group of black kids sat under a tree FOUR MONTHS EARLIER at a school that he didn’t even attend? One must be realistic. Did the black kid say or do something? Was there a grudge that went back long ago? This was in no way connected to the school or the nooses. Was the older kid just being a jerk? There is a muriad of reasons there could have been an altercation. But what did happen? I understand that they had words and the white guy bounced a bottle off the black kid’s head. Wrong, it was, but it had nothing to do with the tree, the nooses, or civil rights. Also, it was one on one. Apparantly, the white friends who invited the black boy in the first place came to his defense and put a stop to it. Two days later, what has been described as a “fight” happened with Justin Barker. A fight? Nobody disputes that Barker never had anything to do with the nooses, or the bottle throwing at the party two days before. Somebody, Mychal Bell or whomever, hit Barker from behind in the temple and rendered him unconscious and defenseless. Bad as that is, hey, when you are fighting, you try to get the first, best shot in, and people do get knocked out from time to time. The real crime here is, after Barker was unconscious, six, 17 year old athletic strong males kicked and stomped him repeatedly. The author questions tennis shoes as a deadly weopon. Try this: Tighten your stomach and have a friend give you a stiff punch to the abdomen. Then ask him to hit with the same force as before but this time, totallly relax your stomach. That type of punch could and has killed. They stomped his body, and they kicked and stomped his head. It could have killed him. Do I think they were attempting to murder him? No. They were wanting to work him over. Did they endanger his life? Yes. Just because he was released from the hospital and was able to attend a school function that night is irrelevent. Suppose you were crouched behind a car while some maniac was shooting at you. Finally, he runs out of ammo. You survive. Does that mean you weren’t in mortal danger? Barker’s life was in danger regardless of the intention. Were the charges too steep? I believe so. But they were also reduced before this big march. But what did the marchers say? Be lenient? Don’t give them that much jail time? Fine them but don’t jail them? How about “Boys, you owe that kid and his family an apology”? No, they chanted, “Free the Jena Six.” Free them! They are implying that the boys weren’t attacking a person, they were defending racial justice. They felt it was their duty before God. This was hardly the case. People, you are more intelligent than this. If those boys get off with no punishment, and they are hailed as civil rights heroes, what kind of signal with that send. I don’t think they need to go prison, but their crime was serious. A referee in a boxing ring would not let a boxer beat an unconscious opponent. And black people need to learn that, while racism still exists, they are just as guilty of it as white people, if not more. I dont know of any white family that does not teach their kids that prejudice is wrong. Whites generally teach their kids to judge each individual on his merit, not his race. Can you honestly say that on the whole blacks teach their kids that most white people are good and they should be judged on their merits rather than their race? Blacks must stop blaming Whites for their problems. They must stop seeing sinister motive in every White. And equating the “Jena Six” case to Jim Crow and situations where Blacks were truly mistreated and abused, is an insult to their memory and their sacrifice. I will close with one thought: Close your eyes and look deep into your heart. Exchange races of the kids. Make Justin Barker Black and the “Jena Six” white. Would you still be so supportive? Or would you want their heads on a platter? If you would see six white kids stomping an unconscious black kid as a more dastardly, cowardly act than you see the black kids doing it to the white boy, then justice is irrelevant to you. You are saying, in effect, that Blacks are inferior, and without YOUR protection, they could not compete in our society. If you want to see Blacks reach their maximum potential, then you will want to see a cultural shift where they prosper by what they produce, not by complaining and protesting until someone caves in and gives them what they want. Reduce the charges, but try and, if convicted, imprison the Jena Six.

  101. This entire incident may have been avoided had proper measures been taken with the “noose incident”; althought the state prosecutors deny any link between this incident and those leading up to and including the beating. I don’t believe the sitting under the tree or noose incidents were the catalyst… this has been festering for some time and finally came to a head when the young man was jumped. As was mentioned in the previous message, this was a series of events that culminated in an unfortunate event. The initial failing lies in the homes of the individuals, the school administration and the town’s leadership. I think the DA did exactly as he said he would when he warned EVERYONE to stop the madness or you’ll face the wrath of the law, but he allowed his emotions to cloud his better judgement in seeking an indictment/conviction on overinflated charges. Should the six men face legal punishment for their actions…absolutely! But the punishment should fit the crime…not the race of the alleged perpertrators. What saddens me the most about this entire event, is regardless of the color of the victim or perpertrators, this would be a “no-win situation” as this country can’t get beyond race and deal with an incident on its merit. Yet I remain hopeful and confident in the future of this great nation as we are evolving .

    “….with liberty and justice for all.”

  102. I’m speechless- When CHILDREN (white or black) show up in SCHOOL to find NOOSES HANGING from a tree we should all stand up and take notice.

    When did this become OK? When did we stop being OUTRAGED?
    What have we become?

  103. We really need to look at history.

    When a white person commits a crime of violence do you see any type of protest? “NO” So, why when a black gets arrested is there always the blame of racism or racial profiling? Did OJ do it or not?

    Racism is being dragged on by the black population not the white. Slavery has been over for how many years and today’s blacks think they are owed something or that their acts should be dismissed.

    Society needs to take a look and see where the issue really lies! Just look at New Orleans and Katrina. How many violent act and fraud were committed by whites? “Not Many” But on the other hand look at how many were committed by blacks! Oh, did the government create Katrina to attack the black population and trap them into fraud and violent acts? Or to racial profile?

    History shows and proves that blacks attempt to blame everything wrong in their life and their society on the white man. Blacks blame the white man for slavery, when the truth is their ancestors were sold and traded by their own people.

    Look at all Black countries. Not one can support it’s self and continues to be a drain on the world. The truth is black Americans have a much better life here in the USA and should not complain or think they are owed anything.

    Please do not take me wrong, I’m not a racist nor do I believe in violence. I just think that all the name calling and blaming on self acts should be accepted by the person committing the act.

  104. If you just read the headlines it appears that we’re compairing a stupid prank (nooses on a tree) to a 6 on 1 beatdown that landed a guy in the hospital. – -Someone help me am I wrong?? When you hear about someone getting hit over the head with a bear bottle you never hear who got hit, who did the assalt, when and where did it happen. – -The story about the guy who pulled a gun at a convenience store has completly changed since I first heard it. – – – How about someone telling exactly what happened (names and dates) abd leave off the SPIN.
    I have to agree with Mark. I know most of you don’t like it but it’s the sad truth, if all these events were turned around there definatly wouldn’t be thousands and thousands of people in Jena !! – – – Can you even imagine if this were 6 whites who jumped 1 black??

  105. Anytime there is injustice we should care. Everyone no matter what their race should be concerned by this and many other things that happen each day. We all should insist that the media start covering NEWS THAT MATTERS!

    I find it odd that the media paid little or no attention to this and many other very important stories yet spends hours upon hours on gossip. How important is it to American freedom if Britney Spears cuts her hair off? It is NOT important at all. Yet important news stories that affects the freedom of our nation seldom make it to commercial news. If it were not for public radio, I would have never even heard of this story and many others.

    Not that it should matter but I am white and I am very disturbed at what happened to these young men and the entire situation. There should not be a tree that only some people can sit under. And if shoes are a deadly weapon the nooses should have been considered as a death threat. This kind of stuff should not be going on here or anywhere else. I would like it known to all that this is highly disturbing to anyone that believes in FREEDOM, whether they are white or black.

    There are bigots out there on all sides and it is up to all of us to keep from them and teach others that we are all part of ONE human race. We are all EQUAL. No one is above anyone else. Each of us has value whether we are rich, poor, black or white. We are to be one nation, with liberty and justice for all.

  106. First of all, i think that this was the most comprehensive and well written account of the events of this matter that i have read to date. I would also like to thank those that have taken action in some way or another, for bringing this situation to worldwide attention. I suppose that, I feel that most people that are the usual ones that are on the receiving end of negative bias in this country, tend to think that since it is the year 2007a.d. that , this type of thing should not happen. If one could think about the turmoil that some of us went through as a people in the fifties and sixties and realize that many of those people are still around to tell you first hand accounts about it today, that it has not been that long since Malcom and Martin were unjustly jailed, beaten, hosed, dogbitten, bombed and ultimately, assasSINated. This happened over one hundred years after the so called “emancipation”… The laws of physics state that an object and in this case, action in motion, will remain in motion until, countered with an equal or greater motion. After reading comments to this article, albeit not all, i would have to comment on a couple of them. First of all, “puzzeled” , had a very good point in the fact that, people need to vote to get the kind of people representing them and their views, if they are not going to run for public office themselves. The power of the vote is strong eventhough, the present “President” , may have attempted to prove otherwise. Secondly, Sharonda Thomas. It is what it is and i would advise that you teach your offspring that, it would be nice if things were the way that they should be but, at this point, the light at the end of the tunnel is so small that you would need a telescope to see it. Finally, the nutty bastard, I mean barrister.. Remind me to never use you for anything that has the most remote thing to do with law. I would not be surprised if you were not closely related to racist D.A. in this trail. I would not even be surprised if you are not the actual public defender posting here anonymously.. Although, i will not respond to your ignorantly painful posting in full, I could just say that to state that an atheletic can be used as a lethal weapon, could show just how inane you really are. I am aware of rural people that have bare feet that are much more of a lethal weapon than any shoe that you could purchase at any Footlocker. In closing, just remember that the world as we know it rotates thus, what goes around, comes around…..

  107. I must say that I am saddened by this whole event. Do people not realize that we are living in the last days, and the bible speaks of this. We as African Americans should stick together and make sure that nothing like this is ever to happen again. We as the CHRISTIAN community need to really Pray! I know that God is frowning on this right now, and I know that he makes no mistakes by allowing these issues to surface, because what ever is done in the dark, will come to light. 2007 is the year of maturity, and it is time for us to grow up and put away these things of the Past, what did our forefathers die for, why are we fighing for “oil” when we can not even get along as a people in out communities. I must say that I pray that What happens that God will have Mercy on all those that are behind this “modern day Lynching” in the judicial system. I used to say that I am Proud to be an American, Now I really do not know. I want to leve you all with this scripture:

    “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14


  108. This is for Debra and post 122- you call yourself a Christian yet you never address the pain and injustice of the boy who was stomped like a piece of garbage by SIX black kids. God is frowning at the way the black boys were treated? Does that mean that he was cheering them on as they brutalized another human being? Please don’t preach to others about Christianity. You missed the whole point of what Jesus taught us. You aren’t interested in Justice. You are interested in seeing a black person “get away with it.” If those boys had been white, you wouldn’t be praying for them and talking about the injustice against them. Where did you stand on the OJ thing? How about this quote, “to thine own self be true.” You’re neither a true American nor a true Christian. What you are is a true hypocrite.

  109. Well lets cover acouple of things that were perhaps missed ask around and see how many times the saintly Mr. Bell had been arrested for assault before this. The answer is twice this was his third time up on a assault beef in 2 years and you wonder why the DA tore him a new one . Another thing white or black how many times have we all seen star players screw ups covered up. It happened here as well, the problem was that stupid finally overcame forgiveness. And if your going to make having a noose in a tree a hate crime that will certainly lead to some over sensitive jackass leveling charges against some homeower for some display at holloween. A all white jury…LOL I understand that none of the African American folks tapped to serve on this jury bothered to show up. And riddle me this if you will was the saintly Mr. Bells lawyer white or black ….he was black. The whole noose in the tree thing happened 3 months before the assault , leading me to believe they just wanted to kick some ass . And yes the whole thing at the store would have had me reaching for a gun as well. Does not seem so black and white as it once did does it. I was pretty angry when I first read the story then as I looked deeper into I began to realise that both parties are deep in some very smelly stuff and neither side should be chucking many rocks around and I am thinking that both Jackson and Sharpton need to get real jobs

  110. I would loke to clarify something for my white brethen. A noose hanging in a tree or displayed in any manner meant to intimadate can never be regarded as anything except a personal threat. History teaches us its undeniable meaning and anyone who hangs one is aware of it.

  111. Your article is very comprehensive and sheds a great deal of light on the situation. Situations such as this occur every day in our country and I believe that there is a great deal of racism that exists in the south. That being said, are we now condoning “battery” as a counter method to “visual and verbal assault”? There is no doubt in my mind from reading your article that the prosecution decided to go after the young man with the criminal past. However, he is far from a model citizen, as you appear to describe him in your article. I also get a sense from the article that your feeling is that since the facts are twisted by the court system the beating never happened. Why not just ignore the fact that six young men did beat up one young man. No matter who through the first punch, there was still a punch thrown and subsequent stomping. I also cannot stand the inference that it was no “big deal” because the young man who was beaten was able to attend a function later that night. There should still be some punishment for the crime. This is where I draw the line when I see the signs that say “Free the Jena 6”. The six young men are being turned into folk heroes and an example for future generations. What are you going to say or do if young black males in this country see this as a right way to do things. It happens every day in my city. We have had 300 plus murders in Philadelphia this year so far because people want to handle matters with violence. Physical violence is no way to resolve disputes. That is how animals think and react, not human beings. Would Rosa Parks or Dr. King ever raise a hand to anyone? I think not. To hear people evoke the names of Rosa Parks and Dr. King in this situation is a disgrace. Everyone is wrong in this situation, the justice system, and the white people of Jena, the six young men, and the protesters who feel that these young men are now folk heroes. Where were the protesters when the nooses were hung from the tree. That is when the time for action when it would have really meant something. That is the way it should have been handled. Thousand of people should have descended on Jena and sat under that tree. Now it has reached a point of ridiculous proportion that can not be stopped. It is a situation that will cause more racial divide in this country than equality. White racists are going to back the white justice system, black Americans are going to back the six young men, and someone like me will be stuck in the middle. It is impossible for me to back the cause of injustice for the six young men because they did it with violence and you expect me to ignore that fact and I will not. I never ignore our inadequate justice system. I for one want to believe in a justice system that works. The act of six men beating one man needs to be addressed in this situation and not condoned. The injustice needs to be addressed not condoned. The ending thought is a simple one, “United we stand, divided we fall”. That goes for all of us, black and white.

  112. A white supremist has now posted the home addresses of the 6 students involved in the reported Jena LA fight (involving Justin Barker). In the posting, he encourages like-minded people to ‘stop by’. This was reported on CNN this morning.

    This type of behavior, anger, and mind-set did not just appear overnight. This call to violence is also not being driven by people of color. Reactive and Responsive actions, however, will inevitably result.

    We don’t need a race war. We all need to treat others as we want to be treated..PERIOD!!

  113. 123 you better ask some one before you get told.. It has been the other way around have you ever heard of ROSEWOOD? In January of 1923, a group of white men from the poor town of Sumner, Florida gathered in force and stormed into the neighboring black town of Rosewood. Wielding torches and lynches, they burned Rosewood to the ground and hung many of its citizens from tree branches. Look it up and than tell us how if it was the other way around. Oh I know it was along time ago so it dose not count. and we have changed… bull shit… I do not thank there is any reason for anyone to beat up one kid 6 on one is really bad. I also thank we can all be glad that Justin’s injuries were not fetal or life altering. The 6 should face the Consequences for their action. I thank that the students should apologize to each other, and have some dialog among each other so we can all grow from this. Why are we all so stupid we are all American’s polished and flawed…. OJ? what was your stand on Cullen Davis Dr. John Hill Walker Railey all these men killed and were not punished. Cullen Davis Killer his 12 year old step daughter and his exwife’s boy friend. He was found not guilty. OJ was not about race it was about MONEY. All of these men have one thing in common they all have lots of money look at Phil Spector, and if the Jena 6 families had Money (and they were white. lets not be naive it is La.) none of them would be in jail. I am proud to be an Americana. I am not proud of not taking action when one of my brother or sisters is being wronged.

    Just a white guy.. peace

  114. The Jena Times chronology of events (google it yourself) contradicts this article in numerous places. The most blatant appears to be the shotgun incident. The paper reports that Bailey and his friends attacked and robbed Windham, and only then did Windham pull out the shotgun. The charges bear this out: conspiracy to commit second degree robbery, second degree robbery, and theft of a firearm. Also, the witnesses corroborate Windham’s version.

    BTW, is this Windham in any way related to the Principal Windham?

  115. I don’t think anyone in the african american community is advocating these youths recieve no punishment just appropraite punishment. This was no more than a schoolyard fight to ruin their entire lifes for it is excessive. How many school fights with no weapon involvement end in the charge of attemptted murder. Yes legally you can make that charge but it is ridiculously absurd. None of the young men involved can be supported as poster children including the victim. Expelling, community service and counselling would have been more in line with the crime.

  116. To the person who posted the thing about David Bowie giving 10k to the Jena 6’s legal defense fund, I would point out that he has also chewed on the business end of some other man’s purple headed blue veined throbber. He’s not even American and it’s been so long since he lived among the not so rich and famous that he is out of touch. Not only that, he’s married to a blue gum gal from Somalia. So he either did it because he is for anybody who is against the norm (remember the sodomy) or he is afraid if he doesn’t show support to black folks, the old lady will hold back the mugambo. Maybe he is hoping for some appreciation from the Jena 6? Maybe he’s hoping they’ll let him break them over like a shotgun.

  117. The fact of the matter is, if six whites would have beat a black man, the first ones to condemn the act would have been whites; probably southern whites. They don’t want that kind of crap going on in their communities regardless of who does it.

    Another fact of the matter is that blacks will stick with blacks whether they are right and wrong. Race is the overriding factor for them, not justice.

    The last fact of the matter is that Black = Violence and Crime. Philadelphia isn’t even in the South and they have had 300 murders???? Name the most violent places in the country — Newark, D.C. New Orleans, South Central LA,, Detroit, you name it. They say they can’t compete with whites because they are a minority. However, they don’t do well where they have the majority either. Many of them are good people, but the good, hardworking, law abiding ones don’t come out and condemn the actions of the thugs. And when something like this happens (like OJ) they will stick together and truth and justice goes right out the window. When did Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson ever say, Hey, we need to act more in line with the rules of the civilized world. No, all we hear from them is Po Us, Po Us.

  118. Justin Barker was assaulted but was well enough to attend a party after reporting the incident. This is not a white nor black story but a human story on how injustice and ignorance still exists. How Racism thrives in a country where our constitution says all men are created equal. This incident is an embarassment to our society. It reflects that we are supposed to be the model to the world on civil rights yet we allow this injustice to happen. We should all stand up and refuse for this to happen. For boys to be treated so harshly and unjustly.

  119. Black Americans need to learn to control their violent ways before any genuine racial accord can ever be established in this country. You won’t win an argument by using six boys to beat another. One question: Why do blacks never fight fairly? Why the need to bring a gang in order to win? Is there a slight problem with your self-esteem?

  120. I don’t know i can only remeber living in Decatur IL. and getting the crap beat out of me in middle school numerous times by varying amounts of white kids. Or finding notes in my seats with the n-word written on them. Maybe we should have locked all of those boys up.

  121. In response to Mark

    “Stop and think; if the Jena 6 were white would we even care what happened to them?”

    Its obvious from the reporting of what has been happening that if it were 6 white kids they would not have been charged with attempted murder. In fact after 1 of the defendants was attacked by white Men (not teenagers) only one of the attackers was charged – with battery, for which he got probation. Now Mychal is certainly not an innocent, having previous juvenile convictions but can anyone justify the fact that the 5 who were over 15 were all charged with attempted murder and had their bails set at $90,000 plus.

    I m sure I am with the vast majority of people who are disguted by the unfair and unjust treatment that these black kids have received, for an assualt that did not severely injure their victim (he was after all released from hospital the same day and attended a school ceremony that evening) they should have been charged with battery and recieved appropriate punishments. I have to say that Mychal, having had previous comvictions, should have been given at least a very long probation as a minimum but the others should never have been facing long sentences in jail.

    This whole fiasco has only served to reinforce the view held across a lot of europe that parts of the U.S. are still deeply and institutionally racist.

  122. This is the first truly comprehensive timeline of the entire incident. Thank you for putting it out there and breaking it down.

    Bell’s family should sue the state for ineffective counsel….
    The coach who witnessed the incident should personally come forth and put his story out there…
    The DA AND the principal should both lose thier jobs…

  123. Mychal has been granted a retrial in juvenile court and the other defendants have not yet been tried. I would suggest that the main effort should be directed to ensuring competent counsel for the defendants. If 1/2 of what the article asserts is accurate, a good defense attorney should have a very good chance with this case. I am personally very mistrustful of press accounts of trials. I have been a criminal defense attorney for over 30 years and I have rarely experienced an accurate account of a criminal trial. This is not because reporters are less than honest, it is becasue they bring their own biases to their reporting. The criminal justice system usually works better than the court of public opinion.

  124. Ok, I admit this SOUNDS like a huge miscarriage of justice but…. For one, there is no “real” news about this, I wonder why that is, it is a shame that since this has captured so much interest, the real media and news channells should give accurate information about what is really going on. Al we get are little snippets of info from them and then all these sites dedicated to the “Jena 6” and inflammatory details. I wonder how much is true. All we know for certain is that a group of white kids had a “tree” that they sat under regularly (who has gone to high school and not seen the little cliques that kids form) I think this particular clique would have been just as brutal if the “wrong” white kids tried to sit there. They probably would not have chosen nooses for a protest but they would have done something equally as insulting to the kids that tried to take their spot. Because it happened to be black kids, they picked nooses. Was it wrong? you bet it was. Did anyone get hurt? NO. Now my question is this, why did those black kids decide they HAD to sit under THAT tree? Do you really think they didn’t know they were starting trouble? They did, they just didn’t care or they wanted to start something. Then, unfortunately a black boy gets beat up at an all white party. That was wrong. Did they specifically identify his attacker though? no. or else he would have been punished. Then a couple days later a white boy was at a store and a GROUP of black boys came toward him, with all the racially charged atmosphere, he was understandably scared and pulled out his gun in case he needed to defend himself. I would have done the same. The black boys took his goun, now come on people, if this kid really wanted to hurt someone, how did the black boys get close enough to take his gun without at least one of them getting shot> So apparently this boy had no intention of hurting anyone. The awhile later a white boy gets jusmped by 6 blacks who knowck him out and proceed to repeatedly kick and stomp him. This COULD have killed him! He was lucky that he was ok and able to go out that niht but it does not change the intent. INTENT is what they were charged with. Attempted murder was not so far off the mark. If I shot at someone and missed completely, I could be charged with attempted murder if my INTENTION was to kill them. How badly this boy was actually hurt is irrelevant. I think these boys should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. If they are not, then it will send a message that if you are black and you assault a white person, you can get off by playing the race card.

  125. I’m doing a research paper for my college English class and I’ve chosen to write about the Jenna Six. I’ve studied pyschology and I’m no psychologist but when an event that gets attention like the nooses on the tree, it creates a chain of events. A copy cat syndrome if you will, when there’s a major school shooting like that of VA Tech, you can bet that over the next many months there will be more shootings at schools, and bomb threats, etc. It triggers something in people… and despite the fact that the nooses were hung 3 months before the beating of Justin Baker does not mean that the two incidents are not relevant to each other.
    They are very much relevant. The fact that students (despite the fact they were black) were threatened it going to cause controversery and more fighting between students and the towns people of Jenna Six.
    In a place where segregation is still happening how can you not expect this kind of thing to happen? Those boys that hung those nooses were wrong, and the fight at the party was wrong, and the beating of Justin was also wrong…

    And no matter what happens and no matter what people say racism has been happening for years and years and unfortunately it’s going to continue. There is nothing wrong with somebody that has different color skin than you… What is wrong is judging a person for being born another color than your own. What makes one race more superior than another, where does it say it anywhere?

    Jenna six = no matter who threw the first punch and no matter whose fist it was, and what color that fist was, fighting doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t make things better, and it sure doesn’t get any point across. Overall FIGHTING = WRONG…
    fighting b/c of RACISM… even worse. This has been happening for how long now?

    When are we ever going to be able to move past our insecuritites and get along with people for who they are and not because they’re a different color, or because they speak a different language? What threat are they to you?

    And just for anybody that cares: A Black Woman Born White…..

    it’s about a black woman with black parents who was born with Albanism…

    Now what?

  126. This was beyond dumb. Those six boys should have gotten the smae punishment as the three white boys. All they were doing was standing up for there race. Yes, I am white but yet fell no pitty for what the six did to those boys. It was wrong and I fell that it wasn’t only un-fair to those six boys but to their entire race.

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