Revolution #100, September 9, 2007

Bond Hearing For Mychal Bell: A Vicious Attack on Black People Everywhere

On August 24 a bond hearing was held for Mychal Bell, one of the Jena 6, to determine if he would be allowed out on bail. Members of the Black community came prepared to testify on Bell's behalf, saying they would all ensure that he would be in the care of the community until his sentencing on September 20. Relatives and supporters of Bell had made plans for him to be interviewed with two schools, including a private school nearby. His parents were prepared to take care of Mychal and be a part of his life. Bell’s legal team arranged counseling for Bell. All of this was brought to the court, making a good case for Bell to be released. Mychal’s defense team, headed up by attorney Louis Scott, presented family members and community members who testified they would make sure that Mychal Bell attended his upcoming court dates. Clergy and family members went before the judge and gave their word that they would take responsibility for looking after him.

What was the court’s response? Yet another and further step in the legal lynching of Mychal Bell. And a big and insulting slap in people’s faces. The judge summarily dismissed those who had testified on Mychal Bell’s behalf and denied bond saying that Bell is a “danger” to the community.

Reed Walters is the district attorney who openly threatened Black students after they protested nooses being hung on the schoolyard tree—telling them that if they didn’t shut up about it, he would ruin their lives. He is the one who originally charged Bell and five other Black students, the Jena 6, with attempted second degree murder and conspiracy. Now this very SAME district attorney, who has been part of this whole racist persecution from the very beginning, represented the State in Mychal Bell’s bond hearing.

Walters called up a probation officer and court clerk testify about Bell’s so-called “criminal record”—which consists of minor offenses of simple battery and destruction of property.

This is exactly how thousands and thousands of Black youth are vilified, criminalized and sent to prison, sometimes for many decades, sometimes for the rest of their lives. How many thousands and thousands of Black youth have been arrested for petty crimes and then, through the “workings of the legal system,” especially under “three strike” laws, end up behind bars doing hard time with not even a chance of parole?

As Mychal Bell was being denied bond—in how many other courtrooms around the country… by the stroke of a gavel by how many other judges… was the message being forcefully and viciously delivered that THIS SYSTEM HAS NO FUTURE FOR THE BASIC BLACK YOUTH other than being shuffled in and out of low-wage jobs, criminalized, imprisoned or used as cannon fodder?

The judge shot down the arguments by Mychal Bell’s lawyers in what amounted to a racist attack on the entire Black community. He used a perverse metaphor, saying the preachers and family members were like a “fence erected around the cattle,” to keep them from getting out to pasture, but that there is no guarantee that the gate will stay closed. Extending the vicious metaphor, the judge then blamed the family and supporters of Bell for the situation, chiding them for, in his words, not erecting this fence earlier and not preventing what happened. This is yet another example of how the institutions of the system forcefully and violently enforce white supremacy.

As the system has made it clear that it intends to press forward with the legal lynching of the Jena 6, students at Jena High continue to resist. On August 28, eight or nine students went to school wearing t-shirts that read “Free the Jena 6.” Students told Revolution newspaper that at the end of the day the principal got on the loudspeakers saying that the t-shirts could no longer be worn because they “offend” some people. To this we say: Racist upholders of white supremacy should be “offended.” But all those who stand against white supremacy should also put on “Free the Jena 6” t-shirts and oppose the blatant censorship of Black students at Jena High.

Mychal Bell's next court date is September 4, when the court will hear a number of motions filed by Bell’s lawyers that are aimed at reversing the conviction, getting a new trial, or getting the charges thrown out altogether. Two of the other Jena 6 also have hearings set for that date.

Across the country the struggle to Free the Jena 6 is beginning to catch on and grow—and needs to keep getting broader, bigger and more determined.

Two days of national actions are being organized in support of the Jena 6 (see "All Out! Support National Days of Protest To Free the Jena 6").

Radio talk show host Michael Baisden, whose nationally syndicated show originates in New York City and now airs on over 40 radio stations, announced that he will do his show from Jena on September 20 and has called on others to join him. People have responded by organizing buses across the country, making t-shirts, and creating slogans.

An organizing committee has been formed at Howard University for a protest on September 5 and to organize people to come to Jena on September 20. And the The National Black Law Students Association has put out a statement in support of the Jena 6 which calls for the charges to be dropped.

All this must be supported and spread, and people across the country who are opposed to everything represented in those nooses must take a stand and keep on fighting until the Jena 6 are free!

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