Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Jena Six

At the risk of losing some readers, I'm going to tackle this subject, from my own point of view of course. You may disagree, but that's cool. This is America.

What few people that come here and read my blog probably understand by now that I was born and raised in Louisiana. I was born in Bastrop, Louisiana, near the border with Arkansas, and I consider Monroe, about a 45 minute drive south of the Arkansas border in northeast Louisiana to be my home town. Photo Credit:(matthew hinton/afp/getty images)

Sainted Mother, Big Sis and her family, and Younger Brother all live in Monroe to this day.

But both of my parents, as well as all four of my grandparents were born and raised in LaSalle Parish in central Louisiana.

The parish seat of LaSalle Parish is Jena.

Yes, THAT Jena.

Both of my parents graduated from Jena High School in the early 1950s.

Yes, the same exact building that was marched upon last week; it was opened in 1948.

I spent a couple of weeks in Jena every summer as a kid at my maternal grandparent's home. They both lived there until their deaths in the 1980s.

While this by no means makes me an expert on all things about Jena, Louisiana. I have at least been there unpteen squillion times in my life as a kid and as an adult.

I'm going to talk about it now that I'm cooled off enough to do so.

I haven't said anything on here before now about the "Jena Six" simply because I think they are criminals who got caught at it, and then played the race card to try to avoid jail time for their crimes.

Had it been six white kids catching a black kid off-guard, knocked him out and kicked him repeatedly as he lay on the ground, I would have been just as outraged.

I think that had six white kids done that to a black kid, that they should have been arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

I hate destructive criminals who can ruin a person's life, regardless of their race, color, or creed.

The truth is, the victim in all of this, Justin Barker, had nothing to do with the hanging of nooses in a tree on the school's campus.

The noose incident had happened months before Justin Barker was beaten and kicked senseless.

The truth is that the beating these six teens gave another teen HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH NOOSES HANGING IN A SCHOOL TREE. NOTHING.

The truth of the matter is that six kids, who happened to be black, waited for a white kid to come along alone, and Justin was unfortunately that person.

If there is racism in this whole situation with regards to the Jena Six, it's black on white racism.

What?! Did you say what I thought you just said?

Yep. And I'll retype that, if there is racism in this whole situation with regards to the Jena Six, it's black on white racism.

Not the other way around like the Poverty Pimps, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have made it out to be.

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are liars. Liars. They represent no one else beside themselves.

Yesterday, September 26, there was the most awesome editorial in the New York Times, by Reed Walters, the District Attorney of LaSalle Parish, Lousiana; the man most unjustly vilified and wrongfully hated for bringing these six CRIMINALS to trial.

I will print his editorial here in it's entirety. (The New York Times can sue me if they want to. I don't really care.)
The New York Times,

September 26, 2007

Op-Ed Contributor

Justice in Jena


Jena, La.

THE case of the so-called Jena Six has fired the imaginations of thousands, notably young African-Americans who, according to many of their comments, believe they will be in the vanguard of a new civil rights movement. Whether America needs a new civil rights movement I leave to social activists, politicians and the people who must give life to such a cause.

I am a small-town lawyer and prosecutor. For 16 years, it has been my job as the district attorney to review each criminal case brought to me by the police department or the sheriff, match the facts to any applicable laws and seek justice for those who have been harmed. The work is often rewarding, but not always.

I do not question the sincerity or motivation of the 10,000 or more protesters who descended on Jena last week, after riding hundreds of miles on buses. But long before reaching our town of 3,000 people, they had decided that a miscarriage of justice was taking place here. Their anger at me was summed up by a woman who said, “If you can figure out how to make a schoolyard fight into an attempted murder charge, I’m sure you can figure out how to make stringing nooses into a hate crime.”

That could be a compelling statement to someone trying to motivate listeners on a radio show, but as I am a lawyer obligated to enforce the laws of my state, it does not work for me.

I cannot overemphasize how abhorrent and stupid I find the placing of the nooses on the schoolyard tree in late August 2006. If those who committed that act considered it a prank, their sense of humor is seriously distorted. It was mean-spirited and deserves the condemnation of all decent people.

But it broke no law. 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.

The “hate crime” the protesters wish me to prosecute does not exist as a stand-alone offense in Louisiana law. It’s not that our Legislature has turned a blind eye to crimes motivated by race or other personal characteristics, but it has addressed the problem in a way that does not cover what happened in Jena. The hate crime statute is used to enhance the sentences of defendants found guilty of specific crimes, like murder or rape, who chose their victims based on race, religion, sexual orientation or other factors.

Last week, a reporter asked me whether, if I had it to do over, I would do anything differently. I didn’t think of it at the time, but the answer is yes. I would have done a better job of explaining that the offenses of Dec. 4, 2006, did not stem from a “schoolyard fight” as it has been commonly described in the news media and by critics.

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.

The victim in this crime, who has been all but forgotten amid the focus on the defendants, was a young man named Justin Barker, who was not involved in the nooses incident three months earlier. According to all the credible evidence I am aware of, after lunch, he walked to his next class. As he passed through the gymnasium door to the outside, he was blindsided and knocked unconscious by a vicious blow to the head thrown by Mychal Bell. While lying on the ground unaware of what was happening to him, he was brutally kicked by at least six people.

Imagine you were walking down a city street, and someone leapt from behind a tree and hit you so hard that you fell to the sidewalk unconscious. Would you later describe that as a fight?

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.

I can understand the emotions generated by the juxtaposition of the noose incident with the attack on Mr. Barker and the outcomes for the perpetrators of each. In the final analysis, though, I am bound to enforce the laws of Louisiana as they exist today, not as they might in someone’s vision of a perfect world.

That is what I have done. And that is what I must continue to do.

Reed Walters is the district attorney of LaSalle Parish.

My Younger Brother was beaten badly by two drunk men about two months ago, just like Justing Barker, FOR NO REASON AT ALL.

I feel such contempt for the protesters of these criminal young men in Jena that it is absolutely impossible for me to put it into words.

I'll just say this, I feel about the contemptible protesters in Jena last week, as if 10,000 people showed up to protest FOR the drunkards that beat up my brother. These drunkards were evil and wrong to beat up my brother who had been asleep two minutes prior to his beating, just as these scumbag JENA SIX were evil and wrong to beat up a single unaware student as he walked out of his school gym's doors.

He never saw it coming, and the only reason they beat him was because they were black, and wanted to beat a white kid.

If that isn't racism, I have no concept of that word.

America is going to hell in a hand basket, and 10,000 morons traveling from all over the country to participated in protesting in favor of black on white racism proves this much better than this blogger can hope to by typing some words.

There truly is still racism in America. No doubt about it.

No doubt at all.

And it ain't all white on black racism either.

My incredulous thanks to The New York Times for having the courage to print Mr. Walters' editorial in full. Maybe some of the liberals who were in favor of the protest march in favor of the criminal Jena Six will read, understand what really happened, and Wake The Hell up!

I can only reason that there are so many people in America that lament the fact that they were too young to protest in the sixties, are hippies at heart, and too stupid to find out the facts of the case, and came on down to Jena to feel like they did something to help their fellow man.

These misguided souls only succeeded in showing themselves to be ignorant fools who may have helped the Jena Six criminals escape the justice they deserve.


Norma said...

The teens in our affluent Columbus, Ohio suburb wore black t-shirts to school to show support for the Jena 6. Now if their 6-10 black students had beat up on one of them or even scratched their BMWs, it might have been a different story.

Good blogging. The only way to lose more readers is to say something about abortion.

uberstrickenfrau said...

I totally agree with you, too. No one wants to be caught doing what their evil hearts tell them to, but if they do get caught, then they always have the 'fill in the blank' excuse that made 'em do it therefore it wasn't their fault and ain't society bad for expecting them to be punished for something that they didn't do! Shhheesh.

Beverly said...

Great post. I totally agree with you.

Qtpies7 said...

Preach it, brother!

Do the crime, do the time. Even IF the kid HAD put a noose up, you can't beat him. You can't. Just like you can't beat someone for cutting you off in traffic, or for not mowing their lawn when you want them too. Beat the crap out of someone, then you need to take the punishment.

photowannabe said...

Amen, I totally agree with you. As was said, Do the crime, do the time.
In this day and age, its never anybody's fault and excuses reign supreme.

Babystepper said...

It took guts to write that editorial, and I hope history records it.

Hammer said...

Kudos to you and the times for having the guts to tell it like it is.

Sindi1968 said...

Wow. I guess you can take the Boy out of Louisiana but you can take the Louisiana out of the boy.
I do disagree with you but will continue to read your blog as we all have our opinions and that is what is so great about living in Amercia at least we still have freedom in some sense.

JAM said...

Thanks for your comments Sindi. It just seems really simple to me. Six teens waited outside a door for the first white kid to come along, and that kid just happened to be Justin Barker.

They knocked him out with one punch, and while he lay on the ground unconscious, they kicked him repeatedly.

Justing Barker had never done anything to any one of The Six, and they were black teens specifically targeting a white kid. That's the very definition of racism.

Had it been six white kids waiting on and beating a black kid, a homosexual, a girl, or an asian, whatever, that would have been racism too and should be arrested and prosecuted.

Maybe this is a little close to me because of the senseless beating of my brother at the hands and feet of two drunk men, each twice his size, but an unprovoked beating of another human is against the law.

They should be prosecuted.

The Jena Six are thugs to me. Nothing more.

The two men who beat my brother into the hospital are a hair's breadth from getting away with it, and that's wrong too.

That's why laws against assault and battery are on the law books in every state of the union. It's wrong.

Could you please tell me where my logic is faulty? Feel free to email me at my address on my profile page.

I truly don't understand the support The Jena Six have received, and why people think they should not be prosecuted for beating another teen into the hospital.

The Rock Chick said...

This whole story is interesting to me, but I have to be honest, I don't know enough about the details of what happened to comment.

I read a couple of articles and they've said varying things and the news is only reporting the "cliffs notes" version of the whole thing, I am sure.

I am curious to see how it all plays out..


RennyBA said...

Here from Norma and says hello from Norway.

I should be careful in commenting the subject as I don't have enough details about it. Your sure made yourself clear in a well written post though.

Anonymous said...

I am a 50 year old Oregonian. The name of my adoptive family is still on a business in downtown Jena. I also spent weeks in the summer there, and on at least 4 occassions, lived there and attended school. I've been there several times in recent years to visit.
16 miles away in Olla, I was a JV football player one year. Reed Walters was a varsity star then. Mature, level headed and fair-minded people that a kid can look up to as much as I did Reed are rare at any age. He was exceptional as a teen.
Where have we gotten ourselves that a cry of "racism" rallies so many uninvolved parties to one side of the issue before they have even looked at the facts?
The facts are simple. Don't complicate them and don't allow them to be misrepresented to you.
6 black students attacked and injured a white student. It was unprovoked, and it would take quite a bit of provocation for the crime they committed to be punished leniently or blame shared with the victim.
Somehow an unbelievably large number of people have tried to justify the crime by harkening back to an unrelated event 3 months earlier that none of the principles, most notably the victim, were involved in.
Let's shut out the screams of the race-baiters and use some common sense.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Jam, I'd like to know more about you and your family. My Father graduated Jena High in the late 50's and was probably very well known.
I think of Monroe as the closest thing I had to home. I moved alot, but enjoyed living there several times. I graduated from OPHS and NLU.
I can find my way around Bastrop and remember a couple of names and faces from there.

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