I’ve been remiss in not writing about the Jena 6. There are excuses but I am not offering them. Just going to jump right in.
Reed Walters, the District Attorney who has led the prosecution against the Jena 6 (more here and here), defends himself in a column in today’s NY Times. His defense: there was no crime with which to charge the white kids who hung up the nooses, and the Jena 6 deserved the charges they got. Oh, and PS, my black friend couldn’t figure out what to charge the white kids with either.
My problems with this are manifold, but in sum:
(1) While a hate crime charge might not be possible (or advisable) against the kids responsible for the nooses because there is no predicate offense on which to hang that aggravating charge, what about harassment? I’m not sure how it’s worded in the Louisiana code, admittedly, but the resort to “my black friend says so too” immediately makes me suspicious.
(2) Why not then at least verbally condemn what the kids did in putting up those nooses (which he finally does in the column) by calling for harsher punishment at school?
(3) The reasoning behind the decision to charge Mychal Ball as an adult is flimsy at best. His attack was by surprise (so the DA says)? Still not enough to try to throw a high school kid in jail for double-digit years. Besides, witnesses say that it wasn’t he who threw that first punch.
(4) Oh, and if you leave out the information about the allegedly provocative statements made by the “victim” of the attack, he sounds more sympathetic (oh, and PS, all the white supremacist and other racist websites are holding him up as a hero).
(5) Walters conveniently leaves out all of the other icky racist details: the all-white jury, the fact that all 10 students who testified against Bell were white, the fact that there was a “white tree” to begin with.
I’m sure Pam Spaulding and others will have their two cents later. But my first reactions ranged from “oh please” to “I think I am going to be sick.”