Jena Update

Posted by Executive Director Alan Bean:

I have been in Jena for three days now and this is the first time I have had time to send an update. This is being written from Robert Bailey’s computer and will be mercifully brief. The big guns have arrived in town and the community is bracing for the arrival of thousands of visitors. Today was a media circus with Al Sharpton, Michael Baisden and other luminaries holding forth for the cameras.

Meanwhile, coverage of the story on CNN has degenerated to a single question: “Which is worse, Justin Barker’s black eyes or nooses hanging from a white tree?” Reed Walter’s role as producer and director of this entire tragedy is being entirely overlooked by most reporters. Tomorrow the event itself will control the day–the thousands of folks who have sacrificed sleep and income to make this trip will be center stage alongside the Reverends, the rappers and their retinues.   When I showed up at Antioch Baptist church, I remembered the first organizing meeting when I was the only person from outside Jena in the room. This time, the church had been comandeered by VH1 and I was told I could not enter. Instead, Salt and Peppa (remember them) were inside interviewing the Jena 6 parents while fully uniformed members of the New Black Panther Party patrolled outside. It was a cartoon–something I didn’t particularly want to be associated with. I have no beef with these people–but why are they suddenly in charge? And why have the folks who stood by the families when no one else would listen been so rudely thrust aside. I know I’m not supposed to focus on these questions–but I have watched this movie before–in Tulia, Texas.

Meanwhile, Jesse Jackson is accusing brother Obama of being soft on the Jena 6. How’s that for solidarity?

Tomorrow, the Jena 6 will likely be nowhere to be seen. Lawyers are concerned that the media may pry comments from them that could be damaging in court. The concern is legitimate. I hate to see these kids miss the action; but they must be protected from their admirers.

Friends of Justice has been working with Joseph Mathews, a young pastor and former teacher with a unique passion for the hip hop generation. While the media scrum chases Brother Sharpton, Joseph and I have been talking to the young people of Jena. The other night, before the hordes descended, we spent five hours with several members of the Jena 6. We didn’t talk about the law, the fight, or anything else the media would ask about; we talked about their families, their faith, and their future. We got them talking about girls, music, college and their dreams for the future. These are fine young men. Joseph Mathews has a unique capacity to relate to young people; it has been a pleasure to watch him work. He is putting together a documentary for the hip hop generation and we have shot some incredible footage. Hopefully, we will be able to post the end result on our website.

Joseph and I have been subsisting on four hours sleep and we haven’t been grabbing our first meal until five or six in the evening–too much going on. I will write more about our adventures when I have more time. Keep praying and fighting for these kids–when the crowds go home and the dust clears, they will still be looking at a long uphill slog.

I would also ask you to pray for the thousands of people who will descend on Jena tomorrow, and for the residents of this community as they adapt to a new world. I may be cynical about the leaders of this shindig, but I have nothing but admiration for the folks riding the buses. God bless them, every one. And God bless you for investing so much love and compassion in this fight. Jena is America. Tomorrow, America comes home. The logistical problems in tiny Jena will be incredible. Gridlock and chaos are virtually inevitable. But I’m not sure any of that matters. Simply being in Jena will be an experience no one will forget.

29 thoughts on “Jena Update

  1. Thanks for your faithfulness and perseverance. Your hard work has helped the story become known. I’ve just come from a rally in Chicago where there were over 500 in attendance. Know that you do not stand alone.

  2. Brother;

    I read your article. It certainly speaks with truth. Although, I couldn’t make the trip to Jena, I feel so much a part of it. I have been informing people I work with daily, my church family, my colleagues, and anyone I have a chance to engage in conversation walk away knowing about Jena Six. It’s been my talk lately, and it has taught me that there is something we all can do. Just do something, say something!

    Gob Bless all who travel to Jena to make a difference. God Bless those who support JenaSix in this struggle. God Bless the families of Jena Six. God Bless the Jena Six.

  3. Alan,
    I did make the trip here albeit “not on the bus.” I will be in Alexandria until Friday morning and was wondering if you had time to sit and talk to me about “getting involved” and maybe help me to see Mychal or meet some of the families before I leave. If necessary, I will stay another day to get that accomplished. I am not working with any group or anything, I just want my trip here to have been about my intentions. I will call you on your cell in the morning and leave a message if I need to with my cell number. I would really appreciate it.

  4. I’ve got chills just reading this and all the other articles on this story i wish so much i could be there. As a single mother working fulltime just wasnt able to. aBut i really send prayers to these boys. And their family. I pray this whole community would open their eyes to the ignorance. Here in ohio i whine about the racism and get so tired of it. I actually used to tell my sons to punch a boy for calling him racial slurrs. I have now changed that rule and we are looking at it in a different light. It really angers me to see such racism still be allowed in this country. I have been so exhausted from myown issues with the racism me and my boys have been fighting the last 6 monthes. But i guess we need to keep our head held high and keep fighting becouse our situation is lil and minor compared to this story. But on the other hand every lil bit helps. BIG prayers to this country …=GOd bless jena6 and everyone involved for a positive outcome

  5. I can honestly say that I don’t have all the facts in this case. In looking at this blog, I really don’t see a listing of facts or evidence. It seems like a lot of trumped up opinion. Recently, in the area I live in, there was a group of young thugs who beat an innocent pedestrian to death. I do not condone the noose and I’m disgusted by that. The parties that let the white kids get away with hanging a noose, were obviously racist, and need to be punished. The kids who did the beating though, could have had the same result as what happened where I live. How would you feel if your son or daughter was seriously hurt or killed because of a group like this. All of you protesters could have easily protested at the beginning when it was a noose issue. Now it is two issues…. a noose issue and a beating issue. Was the kid who got beaten up even part of the nooses? You don’t solve racism by creating a two separate justice systems. Both groups are wrong here.

  6. Brutha I feel ya’ on the media circus. And there lies the problem; a circus isn’t a circus without a few clowns. I’m truly appreciative of the public awareness that Baisden, Sharpton, et al are bringing to the issue. I’m also glad to see the Black Panthers back in a positive public role. But it deeply saddens me that they are so unconscious of the significance of this time and place. They are so caught up in the ego trippin’ of the moment; they fail to realize that this is first step of a long journey. My questions for them would be when the entire buzz dies down and the event is over what will they be to be doing for the Jena 6 in the future? What types of support structures will be in place for the Jena community after they leave? Are they making sure there’s meaningful change in Jena? What tools are being shared so that black people can know their rights and gain access equal and equitable protection under the law? Is this the genesis of an actual movement or are these celebrity activists the newest form of carpet baggers? More shallow people rushing in, ignoring the hard work and dedication of the locals; only to grab the limelight and then roll on to the next high profile gig. Now, what I find interesting is that David Bowie put up $10,000 for the Jena 6 Defense Fund without a lot of hype. In fact it was by following a link from Bowie’s website I found the Friends for Justice. I choose to stand with you and not the circus. What is at stake goes beyond the immediate crisis facing The Six. It’s about the future sustainability of all black people in this country. And when we speak of the future of blacks in the US, you are in all actuality, speaking about the future of all people in the world. Pax et justica.

  7. Dear Dr. Bean,

    My name is Natasha Fatah, I’m a producer with a national current affairs radio program As It Happens, which is heard throughout Canada and the U.S. through National Public Radio.

    I left you a voicemail earlier this morning but thought I’d also follow up with an email, because I was wondering if you might be available for a short 5 – 10 minute phone interview today about the massive rally in Jena. This won’t be a live interview, it will recorded and aired later on this evening.

    My show is a daily program, so I am under a tight deadline. Please give me a call as soon as possible at 416.205.2649, and please feel free to call collect.

    Thank you so much for your help and I look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Natasha Fatah
    As It Happens
    CBC Radio 1

  8. Hi Alan,
    I recently learned about the case approximately a month ago while listening to the Steve Harvey morning show while driving my daughter to school. He briefly touched on it and I came home and did my own research. I was going to “get on the bus” from Philadelphia but changed my mind. Michael Baisden played a major role in my decision. I kept asking myself where has he been for the past year? And why wasn’t he acknowledging Friends of Justice, The ACLU, and The Chicago Tribune? Why is he not talking about the school fire and the other incidents that lead up to the fight? Why is he not fundraising to help the defense fund bottom line there’s still going to be more trials! When I called his radio show Friday that just passed to ask these questions I couldn’t get through and the more I listened to him, and Al Sharpton I knew it, I said it to my husband; They will organize and march and go home and forget about these children. I really just wanted to get through on his show and ask him what are his intentions after the 20th? I said all of that to say this it would have been $110.00 for the bus ride alone from Philly my husband and I decided to put the money to the defense fund I’m not quite sure what significant role my presence would of played today had I attended.

  9. Hi Lydia,

    I didn’t catch your phone number. Any luck with Dr. Bean?

    Natasha at 416.205.2649

  10. Hey Alan, first off don’t take this comment as a negative, but why when all the black people start getting involved why is that we have to say things about it. It is wonderful that you and others were there for those boys and it is wonderful even more that the more influential black leaders have brought national as well as international attention to this injustice. Let us all be as one and stop trying to take all the credit for being there first. What matters the most is all of us standing up for each for something that is unfair and unjust, and for those who are doing this just to be seen and for their own selfish gain, believe me God sees all and they will get their judgement. In the words of an old wise woman(my granny) regardless of what everybody else is doing, you make sure you do the right thing. Peace

  11. It’s great that so many are coming together, but it’s also sad that it’s turning into a celebrity event and a platform to espouse one’s politics. We need to stay focused on the real reason for being in Jena today.

  12. To Alan & Friends of Justice,

    Thank you all so much for contributing your time, your heart, financial support, and patience in caring for the under-privileged and minorities across the US. I know the media have its way of abusing “life-stories” as they run for more air-time and increased ratings. Needless to say, we do do appreciate the coverage. Otherwise, the world wouldn’t hear about stories such as “Jena 6”.

    However, I do srcutinize the media for not uplifting organizations such as “Firends of Justice” who commit their lives and support for injustice being served to American citizens. Organizations that take place at the grassroots level are often not acknowledged at all once the media has its place in the story. As you know, your reward is in heaven.

    Futhermore, this cause has opened America’s eyes and ears to learn about “Friends of Justice” and I do believe that this is God’s way of opening doors for your non-profit organization. This is your opportunity to began seeking donations as well as send proposals to local and national businesses in search of monetary support that will enable you to continue your work. We all know that any business requires capital that enables you to accomplish your task of helping others.

    I thank you and I know the families of those 6 children thank you. I’m sure it seems as if Friends of Justice is at the bottom of the list now that the media and ploitical figures have arrived. I’m sure the hearts and attention of the boys families are in hopes that if anyone could help thier children remain safe from prison is their primary focus. I feel deeply in my heart that they have not forgotten about you and Friends of Justice. So, please continue sowing the seeds of harvest, I righteously believe that you have sown your seeds and will be greatly rewarded.

    I know I will do my part in acknowleding and informing others about Friends of Justice.

    I love you all!

    Consuelo McLean

  13. Hi,
    I was not able to attend this rally, but would like to know if another one is planned or scheduled. I work in a warehouse with well over 1500 employees. Imagine my delight and surprise when I arrived at work and the majority of the people on site (all races) were in Black in support of the Jena 6. There was even a lady with a T-shirt her daughter made with Free The Jena 6, her car was even decorated in Black. It was so beautiful I couldn’t help but cry. I would love to attend a rally with my 18 year old daughter. Please let these young men know that they are the chosen ones. They have been chosen by our Father in Heaven to deliver a message to our people. We as a people need to stand up for and stand by one another. Our Father knows us, and He knows what it’s going to take to get and keep our attention. Life is not always easy and nothing happens by accident. Everything that happens is part of a divine plan by God. We must tell this story, talk about it, write about it, remember it and NEVER forget the disgust and betrayal of the Jena 6.

    “The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you”

    God Bless You All!!!

    Thanks In Advance,

    Angela Y. Millon
    Nortel RVL Order Management
    Desk: 901-215-2951
    Fax: 901-215-3477

    “Creating value that increases customer competitiveness”

  14. God Bless all I wish I could make all of a difference, Ive told all who would listen , if the sepreme court needs money from fellow americans to pay for the defence of other americans then shame on them they are as ignorant as the right to sit under a tree according to your ability to produce melatonin.


  16. After following the Jena 6 situation, only one thing comes to mind, nothing has changed. Racism and discrimination was planted many years ago, watered on a continuous basis by local city & counties, corporations and of course the government. It has never gone away, just covered up by other political issues. Most people in general, fail to realize that these types of events dont just occur in the south, but exist everywhere. They’re just covered up in time so the media doesnt become involved. I dont blame the Jena 6 young men for defending themselves. 3 nooses hung on a tree was enough to provoke a racial tension within them. A tension that brought back the memory of all the ancestors that were hung for no reason at all. Less we forget “History repeats itself”.
    If the tables were turned and even in a different essence, and the parties were homosexuals, then this would have been a clear case of a hate crime. Double standards have been applied again, because of the young men being African Americans. For many years, black people had crosses burned on their yards, churches burned down, watered down with hoses and dogs suck on them while protesting the injustice of racism. Even during the grotesque period of slavery, black men and women were hunted down, hung, tortured, mamed, raped and left for dead. So has anything changed from past to present? The answer is no. The justice system still shows the injustice to African Americans which clearly is proven in Jena 6. Three white kids only get suspended from school instead of expelled for hanging nooses, which is a hate crime. A white man, drunk, disorderly provoking a racial tensions doesnt get charged with disturbing the peace. Then the school incident of a white schoolboy continuing provoking a fight which then leads to racial fight, and the arrest of 6 young African americans. The laws never changed to benefit African americans. As it is still written we are still considered 3/4 of a human being, and this is the exact same way the system still treats us. I cant really say this is the beginning of the new 21st century civil rights movement, because the problems with racism has never truly ended. Nothing ever really goes away, its only covered up to make people feel racism doesnt exist.
    What would our past leaders of the civil rights movement think of todays society, how would they react? Martin Luther King. Malcom X. Fred Hampton. Rosa Parks. Marcus Garvey. Frederick Douglas. Harriet Tubman. And even the Black Panthers. They would stand up and fight the injustice of todays society of racism, not backing down or waiting for someone else to do something. African Americans need to stand together, stay and keep the fight going for Jena 6. Justice will prevail!

  17. after this situation i think they were very crule and nasty with their jugement on the jena 6.

  18. A couple of things we don’t hear much about the “Jena” Louisiana ordeal – FYI

    Now I know there is racism involved but I was astounded watching the CNN “Jena 6” special report last night where quietly tucked into the report at the very end, the US Attorney said this was the 16 year old Black kid’s “4th Battery” charge. I do beleive there is unequal justice in “La Salle Parish”, but the kid does “appear” to have a violence problem (assuming the multiple battery charges are legit).

    And I blame much of the racial problems there on those incharge for not being harsher on the “white kids”. And it was totally wrong to file attempted murder charges even though it was within the DA’s capacity to do so.

    Here are some alarming test results from La Salle Parish just to show you how bad it really is there in Jena, La.. The number one problem in Jena is education and ignorance with racism being a byproduct of that yet no one is truely addressing it.

    Grade 4 Leap Test Results 2005
    English Math
    Advanced 0 0
    Mastery 0 0
    Basic 22 53
    Approaching Basic 52 19
    Unsatisfactory 26 28

    Grade 8 Leap Test Results 2005
    English Math
    Advanced 0 0
    Mastery 0 0
    Basic 0 9
    Approaching Basic 62 39
    Unsatisfactory 38 52

    GEE Test Results Fall 2003
    Eng. Math Sci. History
    Advanced 0 0 0 0
    Mastery 0 0 0 0
    Basic 16 19 0 0
    Approaching Basic 28 13 50 17
    Unsatisfactory 58 69 50 83

  19. Hello:

    I am an elderly person is going through the same situation and need help. My grandson was beaten by a police offier and they attempt to give him 20 years but I refused to accept this form of punsihment and by me speaking out I became a victm of this Hate crime and all type of harassment. This is nothing but the Jim Crow power these corrupt hater hold over us.
    Now, they say I want lay down and take this fabricated false complaint and so it is ongoing harassment due to unable to afford a good lawyer to fight for us. My grandson is a special person. He was not even indicted by Grand Jury. This is the way that they are doing all these young male and female down in this Fort Bend County in Texas. They are sending our young kids to Texas Youth Correction and not even getting them indicted by Grand Jury or certifiying them to stand trial as an adult.

  20. As I read your post I felt instant shame. I was there for the rally, and was proud to be able to be a part of something that might bring about change. I went there with the full intention of supporting these kids and showing unity and solidarity. And then I remember being captivated by the few celebrities I saw and for a brief moment, the chance to get a photograph of or with them became my new focus and mission. Afterward, I came to my senses and I have never felt more ashamed of myself. How selfish of me to be star-gazing while Mychal Bell can only gaze at four walls and a cot. I apologize to these young men for allowing myself to get caught up in the hype (however momentarily it may have been). I will not allow my focus to be blurred again.

  21. Of course double standards exist. They have for years. Mostly favouring the Black race, although you posters will only claim that they exist to “”protect”” the Black man in the US.

    For one, “”hate crime legislation”” exists for all non-Whites, and queers and Jews. Double standard.
    Miss Black America. Double standard.
    United NEGRO College Fund. Double standard.
    National Association for the Advancement of COLOURED PEOPLE. Double standard.
    College application tests, denoting race for consideration. Double standard.
    Promoting underqualified Blacks over, qualified Whites for so-called “”diversity”” sake. Double standard.

    So, for all you White race-traitors and all you others who see “”racism”” only in Whites, be careful how you say what you say. Many of your words are double-edged, meaning they can go both ways.

  22. The JENA 6 Judicial Inequality in the Criminal System of Louisiana Courts IS NOT
    the only aspect of Louisiana JUDICIAL INJUSTICE. Louisiana INJUSTICE
    in CIVIL COURTS is out of hand. See>

    More than 4 years ago my failed marriage caused me to require judicial
    solutions, especially because I was fastly heading to financial ruin
    in New Orleans. However, I became educated about judicial corruption in the CIVIL SYSTEM, and reprisal for attempting to challenge political oppressive social
    conditions for myself and others. In addition to those things, I also
    discovered Louisiana White Collar REAL ESTATE and MORTGAGE FRAUD
    schemes. I am now an UNPROTECTED WHISTLEBLOWER, who is blacklisted
    (and displaced due to Katrina); and I have been trying to maintain my
    own litigation –as well as BLOG on my site about corruption and raise
    awareness about the things I feel strongly about to clear my name and
    hopefully reverse what all has happened to me. As you will see from
    logging on to my website, I am NOT merely seeking my
    own benefit but a greater purpose than mine. ALSO, I repeatedly make
    a national appeal for legal representation. Here’s some of
    what my site contains:

    New Orleans Federal Agents: Who Will Be Their Next “Going Jacques Morial” Victim?

    Anatomy of Judicial Corruption>>> MOTION FOR REINSTATEMENT


    No One Should Be Required To Be A Law Abiding Citizen. . .

  23. I am so sick of hearing how this white kid was beat so badly and then after the beating was kicked over and over!! He was pushed and hit a wall which caused the swollen eye. Look at this picture! Either the black kids are very accurate with the allegged kicking and all kicks went to the exact same spot, or as I assume, he and the Racist DA blew the entire thing up!!
    Look closely at this picture (below weblink) taken the day it happened while he was at the emergency room. Not one other mark on his face or neck at all!! As a white American, I am appalled at what is happenning to these six kids!!
    I made the web link smaller, but I urge all of you to look it over and you will know that this was no beating by 6 kids!

  24. Jackson and Sharpton are the black examples of the virus of race hatemongering… In my eyes that are no different then someone like David Duke. Stiring the pot of hate…

    The NAACP once a valuable organization… is now a joke.

    Most churches in and around DC prey on the poor & guilt them into giving up money they can not afford to give up so these so called messengers of god can line their pockets and buy rolex watches and caddies. GOD DOES NOT NEED MONEY. WAKE UP PEOPLE.

  25. I have to agree with Kevin on this.

    If this case had been six white boys in Brooklyn beating up a black boy then there would be no doubt that the white boys would be getting jail time.

    Racism HAS to be fought with peaceful tactics.

    Please remember Rosie Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King and follow in their footsteps.

    If the Jenna six get off without any punishment the backlash in this country will be horrendous. There are many whites who feel that the law has swung to far towards protecting those who victims of racism. If the Jenna six is acquitted then they view will be affirmed.

    The Jenna six AND everyone involved in the noose incident should ALL receive punishment. That is the only fair result.

  26. Have you heard about the Neo-Nazi website in Roanoke, VA that posted the addresses and phone numbers of the Jena 6 families and said it was posted so their SICK CRAZY followers had the info in case they wanted to administer their own justice!!
    I just found the blog where it is posted and it is full of hatred!!! I feel like I just read something from the 1800’s!! The Leader (a guy named White) who put the info out seems easy to find since he talks all about himself in the blog!! Guess he’s not scared!! Someone should deal that sicko some justice!
    Here is the weblink:

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