Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jena 6 Update

Time for an update:

Mychal Bell was released on bail on September 27th.

He appeared in juvenile court on October 2nd with his parents, dealing with the same charges on which he was convicted as an adult. That conviction was tossed by an appeals court in September.

The day before, on October 1st, hip-hop artists helped organize a student walkout in support of Bell and the other defendants.

Jena's mayor got pissed at John Mellencamp for writing a song critical of Jena's racial record. He ignored the hip-hop protest.

A spate of racist copycat incidents have occurred around the country. Here is another especially troubling example from Columbia University. Here's another town dealing with similar racial tensions at its high school.

And here's a story out of Tennessee regarding a school's decision to ban a student from wearing a t-shirt supportive of the Jena 6.

Also on October 2, the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments related to a case that will determine the constitutionality of sentencing guidelines that demand harsher penalties for crack dealers than those guilty of pushing powder cocaine. To me, this long-standing discrepancy might be the most egregious and obvious example of overt racism in the entire criminal justice system. Read this. Or this. The Jena 6 protest was as much about inequalities in our criminal justice system as a whole as much as it was about the singular incident in Louisiana. This Supreme Court case, if favorable decisions come down in this Spring, could represent an important victory.

Big time props to Maitri's VatulBlog for calling attention to this Saturday's party at Vaughn's to raise money for the Jena 6 legal defense team. Maitri, I'm just going to go ahead and take that image you took the time to upload. Hope you don't mind.

For my firsthand coverage of the Jena 6 protest last month, go here and here.

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