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LA Town Chops Down “Racist” Tree – Jena 6

From the ever race-baiting Washington Post:

Tina Jones of Jena, La., stands under a tree at Jena High School where three nooses were found dangling last year.

La. Town Fells ‘White Tree,’ but Tension Runs Deep

Black Teens’ Case Intensifies Racial Issues

By Darryl Fears
Saturday, August 4, 2007; A03

JENA, La. — Here in the woodsy heart of Louisiana, town leaders were looking for a fresh start, a way to erase the recent memory of Jim Crow-like hangman’s nooses dangling from a shade tree at the local high school. So they cut the tree down…

A few weeks after the nooses were discovered in September, an arsonist torched a wing of Jena High School. Race fights roiled the town for days, culminating in a schoolyard brawl that led the LaSalle Parish district attorney to charge six black teenagers with attempted murder for beating up a white teenager who suffered no life-threatening injuries.

Mychal Bell, the first of the six to be tried, is scheduled to be sentenced in September. He was convicted in July by an all-white jury on reduced charges of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit it. Like his co-defendants — Robert Bailey, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Theodore Shaw and Jesse Beard — Bell had no prior criminal record

The white teenager who was beaten, Justin Barker, 17, was knocked out but walked out of a hospital after two hours of treatment for a concussion and an eye that was swollen shut. He attended a ring ceremony later that night.

District Attorney Reed Walters said in December that his decision to prosecute the black teenagers to the full extent of the law had nothing to do with race. He would not comment further on the case while it is pending. But black residents in Jena said issues of race permeate their town, 230 miles northwest of New Orleans…

“We are seeing two systems of justice: one system of justice for white folks and one system of justice for black folks,” said Jordan Flaherty, an editor who is following the Louisiana case for Left Turn magazine, an liberal activist publication based in New York…

Jena sits on a winding state highway, a sleepy rural outpost. Once upon a time, it was Ku Klux Klan country. But, “in the past 50 years, our little town has come a long way,” said school board member Billy Wayne Fowler. He said white people in the town are no longer racist, but he acknowledged that black people were mistreated in the past.

Black residents said the tying of the nooses was evidence that race relations have not improved that much. They said the superintendent’s decision to hand only a three-day suspension to the white students who tied the nooses, overriding the principal’s decision to expel them, sparked the anger that led to the disturbance.

The chain of events began at the start of school last September. At an assembly that kicked off classes, a black freshman asked the white principal if black students could sit under “the white tree” — a shade tree where only white students regularly sat. The answer was, “You can sit anywhere you want.”

But when black students showed up in the broiling hot yard, they found three nooses hanging from the tree’s branches. After a number of scuffles, the district attorney came to the school and gathered students for a tough talk.

“I can make your life go away with the stroke of a pen,” they recalled him saying. Black students said he looked directly at them. Walters denied it.

The incident was never reported to police, said U.S. Attorney Donald W. Washington. A report might have triggered a hate-crime investigation, although federal authorities rarely go after juveniles for such crimes. Washington added that if the students had been expelled, tensions might have been eased and the violence avoided

It’s always been about race in Jena. Once you’re here, you learn to deal with what happens,” said Caseptla Bailey, Robert Bailey’s mother. “Some of the things that have gone on, we allowed to go on. It’s just gotten to a point that people were ready to stand up and fight.”

Where are the environmentalists? This tree was responsible for “arson,” as well as an attack by a gang of black teens upon a white kid?

(Oops. I meant, a “schoolyard brawl” by some sensitive youths, in which no one was hurt at all. — At least according to the Washington Post.)

Where are the grownups?

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, August 4th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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