by John Hawkins | September 28, 2007 6:00 am
Only in today’s political climate, where so much of the “civil rights movement” is comprised of bottom-feeding race hustlers and shameless liberals who deliberately exploit racial tensions for their own political benefit — could anyone demean the real civil rights movement that occurred during the sixties by comparing the struggles those brave people faced — to what has been happening in Jena, Louisiana.
That may not be the impression most people have gotten at first glance, but that’s because many of the facts about this story have been distorted to such a point that they have little to do with what actually happened.
Let’s start with what has been called the “white tree” and the nooses that you’ve heard so much about. Long story short, there was a tree at the school in Jena that white kids usually sat under. Note that I did say “usually.” Despite what you may have heard previously, students of all races sat under the tree sometimes.
Regardless, a black student asked at an assembly if he could sit under the tree in question. The principal correctly told him that black students could “sit wherever they wanted.” The day after that student and his friends sat at the tree, two nooses were hung.
Local pastor Eddie Thompson then does a good job of explaining what happened next to the students responsible for hanging the nooses,
“The actions of the three white students who hung the nooses demonstrate prejudice and bigotry. However, they were not just given “two days suspension” as reported by national news agencies. After first being expelled, then upon appeal, being allowed to re-enter the school system, they were sent to an alternative school, off-campus, for an extended period of time. They underwent investigations by Federal and State authorities. They were given psychological evaluations. Even when they were eventually allowed back on campus they were not allowed to be a part of the general population for weeks.”
Why weren’t they charged with a crime? Simple: because what they did may have been hateful, racist, and moronic, but as prosecutor Reed Walters has noted, it wasn’t illegal.
I searched the Louisiana criminal code for a crime that I could prosecute. There is none.
Similarly, the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, who is African-American, found no federal law against what was done.
A district attorney cannot take people to trial for acts not covered in the statutes. Imagine the trampling of individual rights that would occur if prosecutors were allowed to pursue every person whose behavior they disapproved of.
After this event occurred, racial tensions unsurprisingly ratcheted up several notches at the high school. A building was burned down. Fights broke out. Prosecutor Reed Walters went to the school and told the entire student body that, “I can end your life with the stroke of a pen,” as part of an effort to stop the violence.
Still, there were another couple of much discussed incidents that occurred outside of school. Here’s the Washington Post round-up of what happened,
In the weeks that followed, the fighting continued. In one scuffle, Robert Bailey, one of the 6 teenagers now facing trial, said a white man broke a beer bottle over his head after jumping him at a party, but there was no immediate investigation. Months later, Justin Sloan, who is white, was charged with simple battery and given probation for that attack.
Bailey was involved in a second incident when he and friends spotted one of his attackers at a gas station. As Bailey and his friends approached, they said, the white teenager ran to his truck and brandished an unloaded shotgun at them. Bailey helped wrest the weapon away, refused to give it back and was charged with stealing the gun.
Days later came the school fight that led to the prosecutions. Sheriff Carl Smith said the crimes justified the charges.
As you can see, the white man who hit Robert Bailey with a beer bottle was charged with battery and the second altercation was much more ambiguous than supporters of the Jena 6 would have you believe. Was the white teenager a thug looking to threaten Bailey and his friends or someone who grabbed his unloaded shotgun because he was genuinely frightened by seeing a group of people he thought, perhaps with some justification, were intent upon doing him harm?
In either case, there are other scrapes that members of the Jena 6 got into that haven’t been widely discussed, likely because they paint a very different, very unflattering picture of the people involved. Once again, here’s local pastor Eddie Thompson,
The “Jena 6” have repeatedly been held up as heroes by much of the race-based community and called “innocent students” by the national media. Some of these students have reputations in Jena for intimidating and sometimes beating other students. They have vandalized and destroyed both school property and community property. Some of the Jena 6 have been involved in crimes not only in LaSalle Parish but also in surrounding parishes. For the most part, coaches and other adults have prevented them from being held accountable for the reign of terror they have presided over in Jena. Despite intervention by adults wanting to give them chances due to their athletic potential, most of the Jena 6 have extensive juvenile records. Yet their parents keep insisting that their children have never been in trouble before. These boys did not receive prejudicial treatment but received preferential treatment until things got out of hand.
This brings us to the savage beating of Justin Barker which has been falsely described as a mere “schoolyard scuffle.”
In reality, the brutal assault began when one of the Jena 6 struck Barker from behind, knocking him unconscious. As Barker lay on the ground, the 6 of them kicked and stomped him until they were pulled off of his prone body. One of the eyewitnesses even said that they “slammed (Barker’s) head on the concrete beam.”
It’s also worth noting that according to Eddie Thompson, “Justin Barker, the white student attacked, was not the first white student targeted by these black students. Others had been informed they were going to be beaten, but stayed away from school and out of sight until they felt safe.”
So, we’re not talking about victims of circumstance here, we’re talking about thugs who would be a danger to other students in the school if they had not been arrested.
Moreover, although Barker’s injuries have been portrayed as slight because he left the hospital the same night of the beating, he had $14,000 in medical bills, blood clots in his eye, and left the hospital even though he was “advised to remain hospitalized.”
The trial of the Jena 6 has been treated as some sort of miscarriage of justice merely because they faced an all-white jury, but there are a lot of key details that have been overlooked by many people discussing the story.
For example, “A black U.S. attorney, Don Washington, investigated the “Jena 6” case and concluded that the attack on Barker had absolutely nothing to do with the noose-hanging incident three months before. The nooses and two off-campus incidents were tied to Barker’s assault by people wanting to gain sympathy for the “Jena 6” in reaction to Walters’ extreme charges of attempted murder.
Much has been written about Bell’s trial, the 6-person all-white jury that convicted him of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, and the clueless public defender who called no witnesses and offered no defense. It is rarely mentioned that no black people responded to the jury summonses and that Bell’s public defender was black.”
Moreover, once you know all the background of this story, the prosecutor’s initial decision to charge Mychal Bell as an adult and try him for murder charges makes sense. As Reed Walters wrote Wednesday in the New York Times,
“Conjure the image of schoolboys fighting: they exchange words, clench fists, throw punches, wrestle in the dirt until classmates or teachers pull them apart. Of course that would not be aggravated second-degree battery, which is what the attackers are now charged with. (Five of the defendants were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder.) But that’s not what happened at Jena High School.
…Only the intervention of an uninvolved student protected Mr. Barker from severe injury or death. There was serious bodily harm inflicted with a dangerous weapon — the definition of aggravated second-degree battery. Mr. Bell’s conviction on that charge as an adult has been overturned, but I considered adult status appropriate because of his role as the instigator of the attack, the seriousness of the charge and his prior criminal record.”
So, putting it all in context, this situation has nothing in common whatsoever with the great and righteous civil rights struggle in America’s past. Back then, we had courageous Americans standing up to make sure that black Americans could sit where they wanted to on a bus or at a lunch counter, drink from whatever water fountain they chose, and to make sure that their children could go to the same schools as whites.
What’s being stood up for here? The right of black thugs to beat white kids with impunity while Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton raise a few bucks off of it? Let’s be honest here: if 6 white thugs in Jena had knocked a black student unconscious and kept stomping him afterwards until they were pulled off and the prosecutor decided to let them walk, the very same people defending the Jena 6 today would be crying racism and marching in the streets because the white students WEREN’T BEING CHARGED with attempted murder.
That’s why calling this a “civil rights issue” is a gross insult to the American heroes who risked their lives fighting for equality back in the sixties. If anything, the people demanding that we “free the Jena 6” have more in common with racists like Bull Connor — who believed that people of his race should be able to do anything they pleased to people of another race just by virtue of their skin color — than they do with real civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks.
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