"Jena Six" Case
Jena, a small town still considered segregated in rural Louisiana, is the largest in LaSalle Parish with a population of nearly 3,000. Of that number, 85 percent are White, while there are only 350 Blacks in the entire area. Black students make up 20% of the schools population.
Racial tension in community
Student, Justin Purvis (Bryant Purvis’ first cousin) asked Principal if he could sit under "white" tree (known for white students)
Principal says yes. Purvis’ and several other students sit under the tree.
Next day, student returns to school to see three nooses in the school colors hanging from tree.
Students (3) responsible for hanging nooses suspended for three days. Mandatory expulsion hearing.
Superintendent stepped in and called it a "prank". Allowed student to come back to school.
Black students protested under the "white tree".
School administrators called police officers and district attorney.
Held assembly, District attorney stated, "I can take away your lives with a stroke of a pen" if they didn’t stop making a fuss about an "innocent prank".
November 30,2006 School fire.
July 2007 –August 2007
Mychal Bell offered plea bargain (i.e. pleading guilty) by Black court-appointed attorney. He refuses.
Second degree attempted murder charged dropped. Aggravated battery and conspiracy replaces the charge (dangerous weapon: his shoes)
He is tried and convicted by all-white jury. One of the jurors is the father of Justin Barker’s friend. Parents are refused to sit in the trial. The judge issued a gag order.
When Mr. Bell’s father asked the defense lawyer to appeal the gag order so they can be inside the courtroom with their son, the lawyer replied "The best thing for you to do is to get the hell out of my face." The prosecution brought forth 17 witnesses of whom many stated that they did not see Mr. Bell hit Mr. Barker. The victim himself even testified that he did not know if Mr. Bell hit him or not. The defense lawyer did not call any witnesses and rested his case. After three hours of deliberation, Mr. Bell was convicted and is currently awaiting sentencing.
Theo Shaw released from prison on bail over $100,000. Spent eight months In jail.
Robert Bailey also spent eight months in jail.
July 31: hundreds rally in Jena
District judge throws out conspiracy charge. Third Circuit court throws out aggravated battery charge.
Juvenile conspiracy charge still stands. If convicted, he will face jail time up until his 21st birthday. He is currently 17 years old. He was 16 when the incident occurred.
Bryant Purvis hasn’t been arraigned. His arraignment is scheduled for December. He is one of the two left to be charged with second degree attempted murder and conspiracy to commit second degree attempted murder. Robert Bailey Jr. also has this charge.
Rally in Jena, LAMychal Bell was denied release, September 21, 2007.Nazis/KKK pose threat to Jena Six families. And send out emails/instant messages to people fighting on the behalf of the boys.
freethejena6.org (Families website)
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