Revolution #105, October 21, 2007
System Lashes Back—
Mychal Bell Back in Jail
Jena, Louisiana: There has been yet another great injustice and outrage in the case of the Jena 6. On October 11, Mychal Bell was returned to jail after a hearing in juvenile court, which went on all day and into the night. District Attorney Reed Walters and the judge, J.P. Mauffrey—the very same people who originally tried and convicted Mychal Bell—worked together to push through what amounts to a legal act of revenge against Mychal Bell and the tens of thousands of people who have joined the struggle to free the Jena 6. The judge ruled that the current charges (stemming from December 2006) mean Bell is in violation of his probation from previous juvenile offenses.
Mychal Bell and five other youth were unjustly arrested and still face serious charges and decades of jail—for standing up against the hanging of nooses, for standing up against racism. The District Attorney continues to spread the lie that this case is about the so-called “victim,” Justin Barker, who the Jena 6 are accused of beating up. But it has been clear from the very beginning of the events leading up to this fight—students sitting under a “whites-only tree,” nooses being hung, and racist attacks on Black students—that this prosecution is about the system enforcing white supremacy and punishing these youth for daring to stand up to racism. (See revcom.us for full coverage of the case of the Jena 6.)
Bell was tried and convicted by an all-white jury. The judge refused him bond. And then, even after a higher court overturned his conviction, Bell was still held in jail. Finally, on September 27, he was released—after being UNJUSTLY held in jail for 10 months. And then he was put on house arrest and forced to wear a tracking device on his ankle. Now he has, once again, been ripped from his family and friends and thrown back behind bars. He has been ordered to do 18 months in a juvenile facility. And he is still facing trial in juvenile court for charges stemming from December 2006.
Like millions of Black youth in this country, Mychal Bell is being systematically criminalized by the so-called “justice system” of police, courts, probation conditions, and prisons. Four previous minor juvenile offenses have been held over Mychal’s head like a vicious threat. In fact, what is happening to Mychal Bell is EXACTLY what DA Reed Walters threatened to do in a school assembly when he told Black students who protested the hanging of nooses that he could make their lives disappear with a stroke of his pen.
DA Reed Walters adamantly claims that growing protests in support of the Jena 6 have not influenced his decisions in any way. But if there had not been mass outrage and protest around this whole case, Mychal Bell and the other youth of the Jena 6 would be “quietly,” and UNJUSTLY shuttled through the “justice system” and put into the system’s dungeons—just like so many of other Black youth in this country. By sending Mychal Bell back to jail, the DA and the judge are trying to send a face-slapping message to the people—that not only will they not “listen and be influenced by your protests,” but they will come back even more viciously. It is like the slave master cutting Kunta Kinte’s foot off to punish him for running away—and to send a message to all the other slaves that it is futile to fight. But the people must REFUSE to “learn this lesson.” The real lesson here is that where there is oppression there is resistance. Such resistance shows the power and potential of the people. And it shows the need and potential for all this to become part of a revolutionary struggle to bring about a whole new world.
Through all this, the system is delivering a message that if you are Black and you take a stand against racism, if you don’t tolerate nooses, “whites-only trees,” and free rein for white supremacy—if you try to stand against all this, then full force will be brought down on you to put you in your place. None of this should be accepted and tolerated by anyone that cares about what is right and what is just. This new outrage further underscores the need for the people to double and triple our determination to continue the struggle until ALL the charges are dropped and ALL of the Jena 6 are FREE.
As we go to press, a call is being issued for Tuesday, October 16 to be a National Mobilization to Demand Free Mychal Bell! Free the Jena 6! Drop All the Charges! Tuesday morning, as a hearing is held on the Jena 6 in Washington, D.C. where Mychal Bell's parents will be fighting for their son to be released, people will demonstrate at 9 a.m. outside the Rayburn House Office Building on Independence between 1st Street and South Capitol in D.C. On October 16, all over the country, people will WEAR BLACK and RALLY IN TOWNS AND CITIES NATIONWIDE AT 12 NOON demanding Free Mychal Bell, Drop All The Charges, Free The Jena 6!
And the demand to Free the Jena 6 should be an important part of the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation on October 22nd.
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