No justice; no peace!” “Free the Jena 6!”
“Hell no; we won’t go!”
Those are just some of the slogans chanted during the Jena 6 Rally in Jena. The rally occurred after growing criticism of the imprisonment of Mychal Bell of Jena High School. Bell was one of the six Blacks accused of attempted murder after jumping a white schoolmate, Justin Barker. The attempted murder charges were reduced and Bell is the only one that was convicted.
Shortly after his conviction, however, the conviction was overturned by the Third Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles, which said that he should not have been tried as an adult on the battery charge. Even with the overturned conviction, Bell still remains in jail, sparking racism and injustice cries from afar.
“This is the greatest form of injustice that I have seen in my time,” said Daniel Edwards. “We need to wake up, America, because there is a Jena everywhere.”
From 6 a.m., people from all over the nation came in support of the Jena 6. There were people from Atlanta, Anchorage, Delaware, New York, and many more. It was a day that Black and whites united for one cause, which some called a sight to see.
“They are being treated unjust,” said Cardell Atwood. “It is a great thing to see everyone out here today.”
Yvette Smith agrees.
“It is amazing to see so many people come and support this wrongdoing that is going on here,” she said.
Reverend Al Sharpton was in attendance at the rally, speaking to the crowds that amassed to more than 30,000.
“We cannot sit by silent,” he said. “That’s why we came and why we’ll keep coming.
“We come to Jena to face James Crow, Jr., esquire.”
NAACP President Jesse Jackson also wants action to be taken.
“March until something happens,” he said. “Embrace until something happens.”
Despite the massive protest and criticisms of the injustice, some believe that the Jena 6 have been treated fairly and are being served the proper punishment. Reed Walters, the LaSalle Parish district attorney who is prosecuting the Jena Six, says the case is about justice.
The case “is not and never has been about race,” he told The Associated Press. “It is about finding justice for an innocent victim and holding people accountable for their actions.”
President Bush finally commented on the situation in a White House news conference Tuesday.
“The events in Louisiana has saddened me,” Bush said. “The FBI and Justice Department have been monitoring the situation. All of us want fairness when it comes to justice.”
In the end, justice is all that everyone seemingly wants.
“Hopefully, all of these people out here today means a new day and a new beginning,” said Mitchell Austin. “It is overwhelming.