I Wish I Were In Paris

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Jena 6 Facts

Just to make you aware of the FACTS, here's a blow-by-blow of Mychal Bell's trial and other things pertaining to Jena.

* 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 whose kid 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 Mychal Bell because this quickly became the orthodox story in the social circle she move in.

* 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?

* 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.

* 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

* 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.

* 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.

* 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.

If this isn't a case for prosecutorial misconduct, I don't know what is. Where the hell does he get off threatening to "take their lives away with the stroke of his pen"? Talk about being on a power trip!! Second of all, where the hell does he get off threatening life imprisonment if the Jena 6 didn't "relinquish their constitutional right to denounce injustice"?

Two other things that caught my attention were very interesting, and it smelled foul!! The first thing was the fact that one of the jurors during Mychal Bell's trial went to school with the victim's father. Umm, can you say a conflict of interest? He should have never been on the jury. The second thing was the fact that the victim and his family ate with the prosecution witnesses during the trial. HELLO!! Influencing the witnesses?????????????????

I realize that there are some of you out there who feel that these teenagers should be locked up for life. Clearly, you don't know how the justice system works. This should have been tried in juvenile court, period!! You know damn well that these teenagers have been, are being, and will continue to be railroaded by a blatantly RACIST prosecutor who deserves to be out of a job!! When someone says that it has nothing to do with race, you know damn well that RACE is exactly what this is about. Notice when the prosecutor was threatening to take lives away with the stroke of his pen, he didn't direct his comments at EVERYONE. He didn't even direct his comments at the jackasses who hung the nooses. He directed them at the Jena 6, and they hadn't even done anything at this point. It's racism, pure and simple!!

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  • At 11:54 PM, Blogger LET'S TALK said…

    Oh this is just great, I have found out about things I didn't even know and I just did a pot on said topic. I'm going to go back and reference your post on my site.

    Outstanding post!

  • At 6:47 AM, Blogger ParisL0ve2 said…

    Thanks!! By all means, reference my post!!

  • At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This blog is wonderful, and is a big help. It points out main points to things alot of us didnt know about. Thank you!


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