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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Please Sign The Petition for the Jenna 6

In a small highly segregated rural Louisiana town of Jena in
September 2006, a black student asked permission from school
administrators to sit under the shade of a tree commonly reserved
for the enjoyment of white students. School officials advised the
black students to sit wherever they wanted and they did. The next
day, three nooses, in the school colors, were hanging from the same
tree. The Jena high school principal found that three white students
were responsible and recommended expulsion. The white superintendent
of schools over-ruled the principal and gave the students a three
day suspension,
saying that the nooses were a youthful stunt. Black students decided
to resist and organized a sit-in under the tree to protest the
lenient treatment given to the noose-hanging white students.

Racial tensions remained elevated throughout the fall. On Monday,
December 4 2006, a white student who allegedly had been racially
taunting black students in support of the students who hung the
nooses got into a fight with black students. Allegedly, the white
student was taken to the hospital treated, released, reportedly
attended a social function later that evening.

As a result of this incident, six black Jena students were arrested
and charged with attempted second degree murder. All six were
expelled from school. The six charged were: 17-year-old Robert
Bailey Junior whose bail was set at $138,000; 17-year-old Theo Shaw -
bail $130,000; 18-year-old Carwin Jones--bail $100,000; 17-year-old
Bryant Purvis--bail $70,000; 16 year old Mychal Bell, a sophomore in
high school who was charged as an adult and for whom bail was set at
$90,000; and a still unidentified minor.

On the morning of the trial, the District Attorney reduced the
charges from attempted second degree murder to second degree
aggravated battery and conspiracy. Aggravated battery in Louisiana
law demands the attack be with a dangerous weapon. The prosecutor
was allowed to argue to the jury that the tennis shoes worn by Bell
could be considered a dangerous weapon.

When the pool of potential jurors was summoned, fifty people
appeared, all white. The jury deliberated for less than three hours
and found Mychal Bell guilty on the maximum possible charges of
aggravated second degree battery and conspiracy. He faces up to a
maximum of 22 years in prison.

The rest of the Jena 6 await similar trials. Theodore Shaw is due to
go on trial shortly. Mychal Bell is scheduled to be sentenced July
31. If he gets the maximum sentence he will not be out of prison
until he is nearly 40.


· As Chairman Julian Bond stated, "This is an American outrage that
demonstrates the continuing shame of racial division in our country.
Join us in making it one of the last."

· In light of the circumstances surrounding Mychal Bell's case, we
urge all concerned citizens to support the call for a new trial.

· It is unacceptable to selectively enforce the law based on race.
Prosecutorial discretion should be used in a fair and equitable

· The Jena Six should be tried by juries that reflect the racial and
ethnic demographics of Jena, Louisiana.

· The hanging of nooses is not a "youthful stunt" or "prank." It is
a hate crime. Such hate crimes should not be tolerated at any
school. Jena High School must establish a curriculum which promotes
cultural sensitivity and understanding.

· The NAACP calls on Louisiana Governor Kathleen B. Blanco and
Louisiana Attorney General Charles C. Foti to thoroughly investigate
and monitor the trials of Mychal Bell, Robert Bailey, Jr., Theo
Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis and John Doe. The Governor and
State Attorney General should do everything in their power to ensure
that these young men's constitutional rights are protected.

If you have any questions, call Angela Ciccolo at the National
Headquarters at (410) 580-5777

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