Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What is the truth? Heroes or Hoodlums?

Update: Here is the link to The Jena Times reporting of the chronological order of the story:

Here is another story that appeared in the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Two points. Does anyone remember there was a kid that was beaten pretty badly? Equating hanging a noose with beating a kid unconcious 3 months later is ridiculous. The U.S. Attorney, who is Black, also said there was no link between the two incidents. Naturally he is a racist right wing confederate flag waving extremist Republican who wants to reinstitute slavery. By the way, Mr. Bell (what is it with these Bells?) was convicted by an all-white jury. However, the Jena Times reports that none of the Black citizens who were called to jury duty reported.

What is even more interesting and is left out of most media coverage is the fact that Bell is nothing but a thug with a criminal record. The Advocate reported yesterday that:
"Bell’s father, Marcus Jones, 35, in an interview Tuesday, insisted there was a connection between the race baiting and the beating.
“The charges filed against my son and the others did not fit the crime,” he said.
Jones said his son, a 16-year-old star running back for the school’s football team who has been in jail since his December arrest on a $90,000 bond, is holding up well.
“He’s still getting letters of recruitment from colleges,” Jones said.
Jones acknowledged that his son was facing four charges in juvenile court before the incidents in 2006. Bell has been convicted on one of those charges; the others are still pending, Jones said.
“As long as he was playing football, he was putting this town on the map,” Jones said. “That’s why those other charges didn’t go to court. Then he gets in a fight with a white boy and that case goes to trial right away.”

First of all, he had been arrested before this incident for other crimes and had been convicted for one of them. It is unknown as to the status of the other charges. However, what really interests me is what his no good delinquent father says about him playing football. Hey Mr. Jones ( oh yes, your son doesn't even carry your name. Guess we can figure out that situation. Maybe if you had been around, he wouldn't have gotten in so much trouble repeatedly.), If I had gotten arrested several times, my father damn sure wouldn't have let me play football. My ass would've been on total lockdown for a very long time or he would have left me in jail. However, since you obviously do not believe in consequences for doing wrong, then maybe its no wonder your son has turned into such a model citizen. Hmmm....that might be why he has such a high bond.

Having said that, I think the sentence is way too harsh. I think a year or so is justified. This kid has several arrests and now will probably have two convictions. His father either does not believe in disciplining his son or can not control him. He needs a year or so in jail to teach him a lesson because one can already see him following a Michael Taylor-like path. I can understand where alot of the protestors are coming from because the sentence was extreme to say the least but someone needs to focus on some of the Jena 6 and how they keep getting in trouble. One suspects that noose or no noose, Mr. Bell would have probably done something else that was criminal.

Original Post:
What is the truth about the Jena 6? Here is a post on where a poster cut and pastes the entire chronology from the Jena newspaper. Compare that to the story in The Jackson Free Press:

JFP story:

The Jena Times story:


Tom Head said...

I think Maggie's article is fine. Her read on the case isn't much different from my read on the case.

Jena only has 3,000 people in it, and it's 85% white. Jena has also gone strongly Republican in every election except the last one, where it went strongly Blanco...and the Republican candidate just happened to be non-white. Not that I'm alleging anything, mind you.

But all of this is to say that I trust the Jena Times for analysis of the Jena Six about as much as I trust the Franklin Advocate to determine whether the Dee/Moore slayings should be reexamined. The official word from that paper, by the way, was that they shouldn't be--they were anyway, and James Ford Seale is finally serving time in prison because of it.

As far as statements of fact go, there is very little difference between Maggie's article and the chronology presented in the Jena Times. But the Jena analysis of that data is, shall we say, more charitable to the majority community in Jena. And small wonder why; in a community of 3,000, don't you reckon the paper is run by a few folks, probably older folks, who just don't want to stuff stirred up in their community? That's fine. But they don't have the staff to cover the situation properly. The papers and activist groups that do have the resources to investigate have done so, and their version of events is not quite as Mayberry-esque as the version described in the Jena Times.

I think you should revise this blog entry with respect to how you describe Maggie. We both have disagreements with her boss and her boss' priorities, but if she made mistakes, it looks like they'd be the same ones I made. So have at it. Where, specifically, do you think I got my facts wrong?

Anonymous said...
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Kingfish said...

Yeah, that was a cheap shot by me. Bad attempt at being a smartass. Hence I changed the post.

Tom Head said...

Good on you, chief. There are lots of people who would have been offended that someone else said something like that, lots of others who would have happily said something like that themselves, not that many who would have said it and then taken it back.

I can understand the frustration, and to be honest it's hard not to see the JFP as a single monolithic entity sometimes.

Re the Jena Six situation, certainly I'm not saying that it's okay to beat up a schoolmate on the playground. It isn't. Nor am I saying that criminal charges should have necessarily been filed in the noose incident. But let's say he did this at 16. He's sentenced to 22 years, serves 14. He gets out at 30. In that scenario, how likely is it that he lives a long, happy, productive life?

This is why we have juvenile courts: To take these kids (and obviously there is an issue with his father) and give them the tools to function. In the case of Bell, he was well on his way to a football scholarship, college, and telling his kids down the road about how he and his friends once lost their temper on the schoolyard and beat up a white kid. The prosecutor's response was "Screw it. 100 years. Lock 'em all up and throw away the key." He clearly wasn't interested in rehabilitating anybody, even 15- and 16-year-old kids.

Which would have been a more sympathetic decision if he had also filed charges in cases like the Fair Barn incident the previous week, but he hadn't. The district attorney has a responsibility not just to punish the guilty, but also when dealing with young defendants, to do what he can to bring them back on the straight and narrow. The prosecutor's great scandal is that he didn't see the lives of six black teenagers as lives that were worth saving. There are cases where juveniles should be tried as adults, but this doesn't sound like one of them to me.

Kingfish said...

I thought the sentence was way out of line as were the charges. Kid should've gotten 1-2 years or so I thought. Football is a way to college but it is also a privelige. He doesn't have a right to play it. If he doesn' t learn now about consequences and stop going down the current path, then you got yet another Vick in the making. Look at Vick's brother and how he turned out at VT. This kid is getting in trouble for violent crime repeatedly. Time to say STOP!There is obviously a problem there.

Oh yeah, and my more recent post. Supposedly, according to posters on an LSU board, Mommy of Baily is living in a trailer driving around in a nice white jag. NOW I'm not stupid. If its internet rumor or if it has legs, then it will come out.

Kingfish said...

and by the way, they didn't beat him up on the playground. They beat him up in the school and prevented other teachers from intervening. Knocked him out with the first punch and kept on beating him after he was on the ground and out cold. He couldn't even defend himself. I'm also curious if anything was said. If Bell says "I'm gonna kill you man" while he is doing it, well, that can be taken to be intent. However, I think the charge was too much. He should've only gotten 1-2 years.

Tom Head said...

I'm definitely not suggesting that he should have gotten away with it, but when the perp is 16, the context is emotionally charged, and it has not been proven that the victim's life was in danger, I think juvenile court is generally the way to go.

One thing that never added up about the attempted murder charge: If I were unconscious and six people were beating up on me while I was unconscious with the intent of killing me, I'm reasonably certain I'd have to be hospitalized overnight for injuries, at the very least.

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