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Demand grows to drop charges on Jena 6
Friday, October 5, 2007 : Pressure mounted on LaSalle Parish prosecutors to drop all charges against the “Jena Six” following the release on bail, Sept. 27, of Mychal Bell, the only one of the African American teenagers to be tried and convicted in the little central Louisiana town. An appeals court overturned Bell’s conviction on grounds he was improperly tried as an adult.
Yet the LaSalle Parish district attorney, Reed Walters, announced he would re-try Bell as a juvenile, even in the face of an enormous march and rally by the civil rights movement in Jena Sept. 20.
But parents and civil rights leaders met with Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Sept. 26, to urge her to intervene in the case. With the delegation still gathered in her office, she telephoned Walters to ask him not to re-try Bell. The next day, Walters caved in, announcing that he will not re-try Bell in juvenile court. That left open what the prosecution will do next on Bell and the other five defendants.
“If justice had been done, they never would have been charged in the first place,” said Sakura Kone, media coordinator of New Orleans-based Common Ground Relief Collective, one of many New Orleans residents who traveled to Jena for the Sept. 20 protest rally.
The criminal justice system “has to be pushed, pressured, by mass demands before justice will be attained,” he said. “It was after 50,000 people showed up in Jena that Bell was released on bail.” It will take more pressure, he said, to force the state to drop all charges against the six Black youths.Read More