Saturday, August 25, 2007
Free The Jena Six (And While We're At It Reincarcerate Yayo)
After reading Billy X. Sunday's drop on XXL.com this week about the Jena Six, it inspired me to write about their story on my own blog and help raise awareness of the tragedy and grave miscarrying of justice that is going on in Jena, Louisiana.
The basics of the story go like this: At Jena's local public high school, there is a so-called "white tree" in which the majority white students of the school would sit at lunch and hang out. A few black students asked the administration if they could sit there and the administration advised them they could sit wherever they want so one day they did. The next day after the incident, three nooses were hanging from the tree sending a very clear message to the students. The high school principal discovered the three students who were responsible and recommended expulsion only to be overruled by the white superintendent who claimed it was nothing more than a youthful prank and gave the culprits a slap on the wrist. Needless to say, protests were organized, factions were drawn, and stakes were high. A few days after the noose incident, a black student was beaten at a white party by drunken whites but no charges were filed against the student. Soon after six black students got into a confrontation and fight at Jena High with a white student who allegedly provoked the boys into a fight after calling them the "n-word" and making racial taunts. The students knocked down, punched, and kicked the white victim until the fight was broken up by teachers. The white victim was taken to the hospital treated for minor injuries and released. He even attended a social function later that evening. However, the six black students were arrested, arraigned, and brought up on second degree attempted murder charges. That’s right, ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGES! They face up to 30 years in prison for their “crime.” They are facing an all-white jury, a white judge, and a white judge in a town that is known for its historically racist traditions. Their families are dirt poor and can’t afford to hire private attorneys.
One of these students has already been convicted and is currently awaiting sentencing in a trial that can be at best described as tragically farcical in nature. The defendants and their families are under immense pressure to plead guilty. It isn’t looking good with the rest of their chances on beating the charge.
This farce isn’t about your new school typical covert racism where African-Americans are passed over for promotions in jobs for their white counterparts but rather a throwback to old-school-Jim-Crow-throw-a-burning-cross-on-your-lawn racism and is qualified proof that racism still exists today in the darker parts of America. Recently, Hip Hop can often be seen defending the “plight” of dumb rappers who get caught on gun charges because they want to seem “real” or attempting to free such “political” prisoners as Tony “I Slap Fourteen Year Old Kids In The Face” Yayo. This is a chance to stand for a real cause of injustice and show the world that we still have a little of that ol’ Public Enemy spirit left in Hip Hop's dying flesh.
Read The Article On AlterNet about the Jena Six
FREE THE JENA SIX! (online petition)