Revolution #103, October 7, 2007
“Free the Jena 6” Protests Around the Country
As tens of thousands converged on Jena on September 20, there was also an outpouring of protest in cities across the U.S. demanding Free the Jena 6. Here are pictures of some of those events, based on reports online, and from correspondence to Revolution.
• Washington, DC: Over 2,000 rallied at the Capitol. A post by someone at the web site of radio host Michael Baisden said, “It was hard for me to hold back tears as I witnessed thousands descending on the Upper Senate Park which is located directly in front of the Capitol Building. Teachers ushered in students, parents ushered in children, colleagues ushered in one another, and together we stood to support justice.
• Los Angeles: Close to 1,000 students at Locke High School in Watts walked out of school and filled the street outside. Black and Latino students acted together to carry out this action. Several hundred then marched two miles to Southwest College in South-Central L.A., where they held a rally and speak-out. Earlier, a 6 a.m. march of about a hundred people down Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood was organized by the Black Surfers Association. A rally in Leimert Park drew nearly a thousand people from all over the city. (Check online at revcom.us for a fuller report from L.A.)
• San Francisco Bay Area: Over 1,000 students rallied on Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus, including scores of high school students from Berkeley High and Oakland Tech who had walked out of school. Eighteen students from Casa Magdalena Mora, a Chicano theme house at UC Berkeley, delivered a statement of support of the Jena 6. Later in the afternoon, in downtown San Francisco, several hundred people protested—getting major mainstream news coverage. Other protests in the region took place at San Jose State University, Laney College in Oakland, San Francisco State University, University of San Francisco, and California State University Fresno. (Check online at revcom.us for a fuller report from the Bay Area.)
• New York City: 500 people, almost all wearing black, rallied at Borough Hall in Brooklyn. Speakers included writer and activist Kevin Powell and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Some 200 rallied on the City Hall steps in Manhattan. Twelve patients and staff of a convalescent home, all dressed in black, marched across Harlem.
• Cleveland, OH: Over 600 people gathered in front of an inner-city high school at 7 a.m. and marched to Cleveland State University for a panel discussion on the Jena 6. In the town of Twinsburg, where there is a Chrysler plant and a large Black community, the principal at the high school supported a student rally for the Jena 6.
• Detroit: Hundreds of people took part in several marches and rallies around the city.
• Chicago: 300 students at marched at Chicago State University on the city's South Side. Excel Academy high school students organized themselves to form a giant “Free Jena 6” that was visible from the air.
• Trenton, New Jersey: 250 people marched down the Lower Trenton Bridge.
• Baltimore, Maryland: more than 2,500 people of all ages packed the New Shiloh Baptist Church.
• Hampton University, Virginia: 400 students marched, and two-thirds of the student body wore black.
• Spartanburg, SC: More than half of 523 students at McCracken High School wore black to support the Jena 6. The student who organized this said, “It wasn’t just a black people thing. We got everyone involved.”
• Rockford, Illinois: students at a K-8 school researched the Jena 6 case, including listening to Billie Holiday's “Strange Fruit” in a music class, and wrote speeches for a rally they organized. The principal relaxed the uniform to allow students to wear black in support of the Jena 6.
• Seattle, WA: 75 marched through downtown.
• Northeast Iowa Community College: students and faculty at organized a rally of 50 people in Calmar, Iowa—a town of 1,000 people that is over 98% white.
Protests for Jena 6 have continued. The following are just some of what’s been happening:
• A coalition of hip-hop artists including Mos Def, M1 and Talib Kweli, along with a number of political organizations, are calling for a national student walkout on Monday, October 1. As we go to press, students are organizing around the country for the walkout on Monday to Free the Jena 6.
• More than 200 students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison rallied on September 25 in support of the 6.
• A Black fraternity at the University of Southern Mississippi rallied on September 25.
• Three of the Jena 6 parents spoke at a Howard University panel titled, “Endangered Black Males: Racial Injustice and the Pipeline, The Jena Six” on September 25, attended by 1,000 students and faculty members.
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