After ignoring Jena, NYTimes gives Reed Walters a pulpit

The New York Times didn’t cover the Jena story until they were faced with a protest so big that they had to put it on the front page. But now, apparently they can find the space for this disingenuous screed from Reed Walters, the D.A. responsible for the Jena debacle.

Reed Walters complains that hanging nooses is no excuse to jump a white boy. But he conveniently leaves out his own shameful role in fanning the flames of racial unrest in Jena. He neglects to tell America how he also refused to protect Jena’s black youth from a series of attacks by white youth, in the days leading up to the attack on Justin Barker. He neglects to mention how a black youth was assaulted by a gang of white youth at a party, and how another white high school graduate threatened black youth with a shotgun outside a convenience store. This is the critical information we need to understand the attack on Justin Barker–it was the mirror image of a similar attack by white youth on a single, defenseless black youth that weekend. Except Reed Walters didn’t punish all the participants in that attack. Apparently some young people are worth more than others.

New York Times, now you need to publish a rebuttal from Friends of Justice that holds Reed Walters responsible for Jena’s racial unrest.

Also in the New York Times is an interesting commentary by Paul Krugman, connecting Jena to the Republican’s problem with race–i.e., having built their power by scapegoating people of color, they are now having trouble meaningfully campaigning for the vote of all Americans, especially our country’s growing ranks of Hispanic voters. Interesting…although Krugman is wrong to associate Jena only with the vestiges of Old Southern racism. Black youth are denied due process across America, not just in small Southern towns like Jena. So the problem is just as bad in Boston, MA as it is in Jena, Louisiana or Tulia, Texas. Talking from friends who minister in low-income black communities in Boston, it’s painfully obvious that the New Jim Crow is a national problem. That’s why Friends of Justice sticks to our guns on this point: Jena is America.

7 thoughts on “After ignoring Jena, NYTimes gives Reed Walters a pulpit

  1. The link you put in for the Krugman article is wrong. It takes me directly to the same Walters article. Reading Walter’s article more than once would turn my stomach. As a white American who really does believe in justice for all, this guy Walters just comes across as a buddy of the KKK!!!
    The correct Link to Mr. Krugman’s story is:

  2. Calling Reed Walters an agent of the KKK is a bit inflammatory in my opinion and floods the issue with emotions and confuses the people that need to hear the message.

    The KKK preys on people’s fears and brings together broken people to make them feel whole again. It’s no mistake that their numbers swell during trying times. If their members had good jobs and felt better about the country they wouldn’t be looking for someone to blame.

    Reed Walters is just playing a game that the prison industrial complex needs him to play. He may or may not cater to the KKK, but he absolutely plays along with his industry. You see, by creating an underclass of people that rotate in and out of jail they create job security. They did this with the Irish and the Italians at other times in our nation’s history. Poor blacks have become today’s Prison Class. It’s racist on its face, but to me it runs to a sicker depth. That is of moving people around like poker chips in a game of who can get the prison funding, the incarceration rate, the better elected position by being “tough on crime.”

    Calling these people racists is almost more complimentary than getting to the heart of what they’re doing. They building careers on poor people’s backs and ruining our nation’s families and small towns in the process. Racism is how they get their ignorant friends on board. Our side complaining about racism only seems to tighten their ranks.

    Then again, talking about the real issue would lose people. Racism is an easy way to ignite action. I don’t know how we can affect change and still tip toe gently around the real issues at hand.

    Regardless, I’m glad that Friends of Justice is fighting the good fight here. As we should all collaborate and continue to do.

  3. I laid an egg when I saw D.A. Walters’ Op Ed piece in the NYT yesterday.

    I know people who have approached NYT editors on several fronts to get the ‘paper of record’ to start writing on the trials in Jena, They only deigned to do so on the day of the mass protests. (!) Why would they then follow up with a piece from the poison pen of the D.A.? You might say, “Well, to balance the reporting,” which is fine, except up to the day prior, there HAD BEEN NO reporting by the TImes on a story that has been brewing for a year. There was in effect no story to balance.

    I am truly baffled. I’ve been in journalism for 30+ years, and this one has me stumped.

  4. I, too, was completely baffled by the decision of the NYT to give Walters a megaphone, especially in light of the fact that the NYT and most of the mainstream media in general was nowhere to be found pre-protest. Granted, an op-ed piece is not reporting, but still, why not publish both sides?

  5. I couldn’t wait for you to post on Mychals release to tell you congratulations and thanks for all the The Friends of Justice did in this case! Know that though the cameras are not on you, as we look back on how far the Jena 6 case has come, like Tulia, your work mattered.

  6. Long after Reed Walters is retired from the bench and living the golden years in quiet, well-earned comfort, it’s almost a given that Mychal Bell will be occupying a jail cell somewhere in this big, wide, wonderful land of ours–if he’s not dead by then from a gang-slaying or drugs. His brand of temperament is all-too-predictable. If he can’t control his anger now, it’ll only grow worse over time. So be it: Three times as many black men occupy jail cells as college dorm rooms: Mychal’s already enroute to being just one more among many others. Book him, Danno.

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