It's an American outrage that demonstrates the continuing shame of racism in our country.
Six black teenagers in a small Louisiana town are facing some of the most overly aggressive prosecution we've seen - all over a schoolyard fight with white students. The group has come to be known in the media as the Jena 6, in reference to the small town where a series of racial incidents escalated after three nooses were hung from a tree at a local high school.
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The events led to the arrest of the young men - all being charged with serious criminal offenses that could lead to decades in jail. But, the white students involved were not initially prosecuted; they received a three-day in school suspension for hanging the nooses.
In a trial that lasted only two days, an all-white jury convicted Mychal Bell, the first of the group to be tried. The public defender presented no rebuttal or witnesses, and the jury deliberated for less than two hours.
On Friday, the Louisiana Court of Appeals took an important step towards justice for the Jena 6. They tossed out Bell's conviction for aggravated battery, stating that he should not have been tried and convicted as an adult. But, Mychal Bell remains in jail awaiting a new trial. The legal fight is far from over for him and his co-defendants.
Donate to the NAACP Justice for Jena Fund.
How the NAACP is Advocating For Justice
The NAACP is mobilized to secure justice and equity for these young men.
- The NAACP, in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Southern University Law Center, has provided some additional legal support and resources to the defendants' attorneys and remains committed to the defense of the remaining young men.
- We presented a petition of over 62,000 signatures (gathered on the NAACP website; signatures now exceed 92,000) to the Governor of Louisiana on Sept. 17 as a symbol of the thousands of citizens concerned with the unequal treatment of the defendants and the pubic acknowledgement that the hanging of the three nooses is a serious hate crime offense.
- We have demanded that the Attorney General's office investigate the prosecution and monitor the trials.
- We organized activities, including a rally and town hall, in Jena on Sept. 20 in the spirit of justice and equality. The town hall will focus on racial disparities in the education and criminal justice systems.
- We are actively monitoring the situation and remain committed to the defense of the six young men to ensure proper treatment by the court system and protection of their rights under the law.
If you can't come to Jena, you can participate in our efforts via the NAACP website by signing the Justice for Jena petition, donating to the cause, or by viewing our live webcast of the rally and town hall meeting on Sept. 20.
Forward this email to your family and friends and ask them to sign the petition.
We cannot afford to be silent when so much is at stake.
Dennis Courtland Hayes
Interim President & CEO NAACP