Since you may not read this whole post, I want to ask you up front to please call, email or postal mail the national media to urge them to cover this story. A list of media contacts can be found here.
Back to the story of the Jena 6 - Essentially at the high school there was a whites only tree that the white kids hung out under. Black students asked the school administration if they could go under the tree. The administration said anyone could, and the Black students did. The next day, 3 nooses where hung in the tree.
The uproar somehow brought the district attorney out to the school for an assembly where he threatened the Black students that he could "end [their] lives with a stroke of a pen". After a Black student was jumped and another threatened with a shot gun off campus; there ended up being a school fight where a white student ended up in the hospital for a few hours. When the dust settled from all these events 3 white students had been suspended for 3 days and 6 Black students had been charged with attempted murder and conspiracy.
Mychael Bell has now been convicted and is looking at 22 years, with sentencing on September 20.
Mostly due to blog and other net activities, a campaign has been pushed to get Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and the U.S. Justice Department to step in and confront these civil rights abuses by Jena government officials.
For Governor Blanco's part, she has brushed off all accountability and concern with a ridiculous form letter response to those who contact her office, essentially saying that she can't do anything because the executive branch is separate from the judicial branch, and this is purely a judicial matter. That form letter response can be seen in italics in the middle of this post.
I responded to this balderdash in a letter I sent to Blanco's office, as seen here, noting that 1) She has every ability to raise her voice for justice and two her administration has every ability and duty to confront civil rights abuses by local governments in her state; stating:
I implore you to have the state Attorney General’s Office to act on these civil rights abuses and abuses of power by the local police and prosecutor’s in Jena Louisiana. Sitting by idle, watching these racial abuses transpire; declaring this to be a local issue will only put you in company with many southern governors of times gone by.
As for the U.S. Justice Department, all they did was hold a community forum to pacify people. It's not the Justice Departments job to hold fluffy, feel good, unity sessions, it's the Justice's Departments job to investigate and prosecute civil and constitutional rights transgressions.
Seeing that these appeals to government both nationally and in the state were not engendering a real response, I realize that that we need a critical mass of public outcry to get these people to discharge their duties; as politicians don't much care about doing the right thing, but they do care about public pressure from their constituents.
Noticing that the national and mainstream media have largely ignored this story, I put forth the ideal of a campaign to recruit the media to do it's job, so the nation in mass will know what's going on in order to build and outcry of critical mass that the politicians will have to respond to; and the bloggosphere has stepped up.
The Afrosphere Jena 6 Coalition's press release in part reads:
The Jena 6 issue, like Katrina, highlights how some people receive deference in treatment over others. “The Jim Crow style racism and government negligence, reflected in the Jena 6 case, are both quite worrisome. Unfortunately, the case is another incident that points to the entrenched racial and socio-economic disparities in the South, which this country has yet to fully confront,” says political scientist Dr. Sekou Franklin of Middle Tennessee State University. As the Congressional Black Caucus has noted “we must speak out against injustice and inequality. This tale of two standards depicts a pattern of gross violations”.
The The Afrosphere Jena 6 Coalition “ask that the mainstream traditional media step forward and discharge their duty to provide coverage of this vitally important event to their viewers and readers and act as “the fourth institution” of governmental “checks and balance” that constitutional framers intended the press to be.”
Read the full release at www.pr.com/press-release/50358
Again, with this in mind, I hope YOU will step up to the challenge of contacting at least just five national media outlets. What is it for you to put some email addresses in a send box, type up or copy a few words, and hit send? Better yet though, if you have a printer it would be great to print those same letters off, sign your name, and drop them in the mail. I think it's easier for a large news company to ignore an in box full of emails, but not to ignore mail bends full of letters staring them in the face in their office. A flood of calls would be great too. Maybe you could do this every week until they get the message. Just take whatever little time you have to do your part. If we all just do a little, a whole lot will get accomplished.
The Median Contact List Is Here!
Watch this Democracy Now youtube video on the Jena 6 issue.
The Jena 6 Defense Fund mention in the piece is an NAACP Fund. The address for you to donate is
PO Box 2798
Jena, LA 71342
There will be a mass rally in Jena on September 20th, the day Mychael Bell is to be sentenced, with people coming from all around the country. This is it people - this is the moment that this generation will take a stand. We will not let racist attacks on us quietly continue. We will not let Jim Crow come back! If you have the means to make it, you need to be there.
Other InJustices To Keep In Mind
Dunbar Village - Watch Video