Revolution #103, October 7, 2007
Racists Lash Back in Jena 6 Battle
The sun had not even set on September 20 when a vicious backlash emerged. During the rally in Alexandria white racists drove by repeatedly with nooses hanging from the back of their pickup truck. One of them told police his relatives were involved with the KKK. After white supremacist websites put up racist, hateful slurs about the Jena 6 case and posted the names, phone numbers, and addresses of family members of the Jena 6, calling on racist vigilantes to take action, family members of the Jena 6 got started getting threatening phone calls. There has been new racist bathroom wall graffiti and threats against the Jena 6 at the high school. Justin Barker, the white student the Jena 6 are accused of beating up, and his parents gave an interview to the editor of a white supremacist publication. The editor of this paper also interviewed Jena’s mayor, Murphy McMillin, telling him he “would like to arrange to set aside some place for those opposing the colored folks,” to which McMillin said, “I am not endorsing any demonstrations, but I do appreciate what you are trying to do.”
This underscores that an important part of this struggle is to resist such threats and protect the Jena 6 and their families from any retaliation and harm.
Meanwhile, District Attorney Reed Walters, who is prosecuting the Jena 6, has gotten major promotion in the mainstream media, spreading the lie that this case is not about race, that it has nothing to do with the nooses being hung, that it is just about getting justice for the so-called “victim,” Justin Barker. This is a concerted attempt to cover up the TRUTH of this case. A blatant effort to wipe away and deny the very reason this case has touched a nerve among millions of Black people all over this country. Reed Walters wants to wipe away, with the stroke of his pen, the real facts of this case:
Black high school students sit under a “whites-only” tree in the schoolyard. Racist white students respond by hanging nooses from the tree. After Black students protest by standing under the tree, a school assembly is called where Walters tells Black students to shut up about the nooses, that if he hears anything else about it, he “can make their lives go away with the stroke of his pen.” The three students who hung the nooses are given what amounts to a slap on the wrist. Robert Bailey, a Black student, tries to go to a dance at a hall considered to be “white.” When he walks in he’s punched in the face, knocked on the ground and attacked by a group of white youth. Only one white youth is arrested and only gets probation. The next night, a white man, along with his friends, pulls a gun on Bailey and two of his friends at the Gotta Go gas station. The Black youth wrestled the gun from him to prevent him from using it. They are arrested and charged with theft, and the white man goes free. Then when a fight breaks out that sends a white student to the hospital for a couple of hours, the law comes down on six Black students. Mychal Bell, Robert Bailey, Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, and an unnamed minor are arrested, originally charged with attempted murder, and face decades of prison time. And these young men are all still facing prosecution – for standing up to racism.
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