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Indybay Feature
Sun Jul 15 2007 (Updated 07/27/07)
Injustice in Jena: The "White" Tree
Racial Tension and Segregation in Jena, Louisiana
In a small, still mostly segregated section of rural Louisiana, an all-white jury heard a series of white witnesses called by a white prosecutor testify in a courtroom overseen by a white judge in a trial of a fight at the local high school where a white student who had been making racial taunts was hit by black students. The fight was the culmination of a series of racial incidents starting when whites responded to black students sitting under the "white" tree at their school by hanging three nooses from the tree. The white jury and white prosecutor and all white supporters of the white victim were all on one side of the courtroom. The black defendant, 17 year old Mychal Bell, and his supporters were on the other. The jury quickly convicted Mychal Bell of two felonies - aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. Bell, who was a 16 year old sophomore football star at the time he was arrested, faces up to 22 years in prison. Five other black youths await similar trials on attempted second degree murder and conspiracy charges. Mychal Bell is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st. If he gets the maximum sentence he will not be out of prison until he is nearly 40. Read More

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