[During Fall 2006 two Black students sat under what was considered a ?white? tree on Jena, La., high school?s grounds. The next day nooses were hung from that tree. The heightened racial tensions resulted in a prosecution of six Black students for beating up a classmate, while no whites were charged with any crimes. The first conviction in the case, of Mychal Bell, 16 tried as an adult, brought out tens of thousands of people, mostly Black, to the town of Jena on September 20, 2007, to protest the injustice of the ?justice? system. We print responses to the case from women in California?s prisons. –Editors]
This is not 1817. All people are supposed to be considered equal. It is horrifying to treat young people that way. Equal rights are not true for certain races especially Black people, who are not treated with respect. Any little thing we do or stand up for ourselves, they want to put us in prison for the rest of our lives.
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We all understand what a hang noose is. [It stands for a tradition of lynching.] It shows your “family values” if you think this symbol, a reminder of this history, is nothing but a prank. It is very serious that history is not listened to.
Jena would not have escalated this far if the whites were willing to listen. They could have made the tree a lesson in reconciliation, in peace. I understand why Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was for non-violence–we don’t want to stoop to the level of the racists by being as violent as they are.
Selective prosecution and letting the noose incident pass as a prank is wrong. It shows racism. It shows how far we have not come. How can people think it is funny to spread hate? It feels like we’re back in 1960s, before the Civil Rights Movement.
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The judicial system doesn’t take time to consider everything involved, doesn’t look at things from all perspectives, doesn’t take in consideration the effect of intimidation had on those kids. The noose represented death!
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Brings feelings of back in the old days when there was slavery. Hurts the heart to see kids to go through this justice system.
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I am not surprised. Racism is not gone. The judge took it too far. School should have been held more responsible. No prison time. No justice.
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Jena story is very sad, but not surprising. It is both a racial issue and an illustration of how the judicial system does not work. There is no equality in the judicial system.
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Voices, the only instrument of the human body in unity of song, the human heart beats united in its rhythm. Outwardly you hear the sounds of harmony, oh but inwardly you hear a sound of a united drum beat of the heart!
What happen Jena? You were a lady of character and pride. Who made you afraid to speak against the injustice done to you? Open your mouth and speak. You lost your harmony of life. Your beautiful distinctive sound has now been distorted to an irritated squeek. You can get it back Jena, the melody of the song our forefathers and civil rights leaders gave their lives for. You can get it back, Jena; they might look intimidating with their rope that?s disguised as a gavel, and a sheet under a black robe. But remember, the invisible hand of justice is more powerful than the visible hand of power. You can get your melody back, Jena, just let them hear your voice! Speak, tell them that all men are created equal. Don?t stop listening to the sound of the voices and start looking at the color of their skin! Tell them Jena that you will not be silent any more.