On September 20, there will be a Day of Action in support of the Jena 6 held in the, town of about 3,000, located northwest of New Orleans. From Color of Change:

Last fall in Jena, Louisiana, the day after two black high school students sat beneath the “white tree” on their campus, nooses were hung from the tree. When the superintendent dismissed the nooses as a “prank,” more black students sat under the tree in protest. The District Attorney then came to the school accompanied by the town's police and demanded that the students end their protest, telling them, “I can be your best friend or your worst enemy… I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen.”1
A series of white-on-black incidents of violence followed, and the DA did nothing. But when a white student was beaten up in a schoolyard fight, the DA responded by charging six black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

It's a story that reads like one from the Jim Crow era, when judges, lawyers and all-white juries used the justice system to keep blacks in “their place”–but it's happening today.

…Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (16) and an unidentified minor, were expelled from school, arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. Bail was set so high — between $70,000 and $138,000 — that the boys were left in prison for months as families went deep into debt to release them.

Last Friday a Louisiana appeals court tossed out Bell's conviction, saying that he should not have been tried as an adult. More after the jump.The sentencing was slated for this Thursday, the day of the support rally. Thousands are expected — business owners in Jena are already assuming the worst. Isn't always the way — the uppity Negroes are going to destroy our town meme.

Tina Norris, who owns a downtown cafe blocks from the site of a planned rally, said she's going to “lock up, go home and stay out of the way.” She is thinking of boarding up the large plate-glass windows at Cafe Martin.

“Of course we'll lose money,” she said during Monday's lunch rush. “But we don't know what else to do. No one has given us any direction, told us what to do.

…Sandra Jones of Jena said the cause is good, but she's still worried. “The black people in Jena, we still have to live here after all of them are done and gone home,” she said. “I just hope everyone comes in a positive way and doesn't make it hard for us that live here.


* Jasmyne Cannick on the MSM coverage about the rally
* Justice for the Jena 6
* National Black Justice Coalition on the Jena 6
* NBJC: Standing Up to Jim Crow Justice in 2007

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding