Oneofthree’s Musings

The ramblings of a 20 something lawyer

Archive for the ‘race crimes’ Category

Jena 6

Posted by oneofthree on September 21, 2007

For those of you unaware, the fabulous Rev. Al Sharpton is at it again.  Apparently in Jena, Louisiana 6 black people were arrested for beating up a white kid.  This small town has been simmering in racial tension for at least the past 8 months which climaxed with this beating.  Which prompted Rev. Jesse Jackson criticized Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday over his reaction to the arrest of six black juveniles in Jena, Louisiana, on attempted murder charges, accusing the Illinois senator of “acting like he’s white”.

From what I can gather, this started when a black student sat under what has been known as the “white tree”.  Either the next day, or a few days later, nooses showed up on that tree.  The white students were found, and suspended for three days and allowed to return to school.  For roughly 8 months afterwards, several incidents happened.  Fights, shotguns, arson. 

One incident is that a black student attempted to attend a “white party”.  The student was attacked.  Later, that same black student, along with others attacked a different white student.  The white student went to his truck and pulled his shotgun.  The black student took it away.  The white student was not charged, the black student was charged with theft.  Now – I can kinda understand why they didn’t charge the white student – self defense – although I question whether pulling a shotgun is allowed -even if you are presented with several other attackers.  If he could get his gun, couldn’t he get in his car and leave?  But I can understand, somewhat.  I do not understand the charge of theft. 

About 4 days after the arson of the school, 6 black students,  Mychal Bell, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Theo Shaw and Jesse Ray Beard — were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy, according to LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters, for attacking a white student, Justin Barker -what the police originally charge someone with, is not necessarily what they will go to court on.  The prosecutor changed the charges to Agg battery with a deadly weapon.  Barker ended up in the hospital and was released several hours later.  Parents of the 6 defendants claim that Barker was using racial slurs against the 6.  Barkers family argues this point.

The prosecution claimed that a shoe was the deadly weapon.  Before you complain, there is caselaw (at least in Florida) that a shoe can be a deadly weapon.  Of the 6, Bell, one has been convicted of aggravated battery, but the conviction was vacated and he remains in jail awaiting a decision from the prosecution.  There is to be a hearing withing 72 hours.  The judge originally refused to reduce his bond citing his prior record, including battery.

There have been several outcries that this is racially motivated as the original white kids were not charged.  My understanding, from Florida law, is a hate crime can only exist when a crime has been committed.  It’s like a label that is applied.  (If I’m wrong, please point me in the right direction)  Hanging nooses, while disgusting, is protected speech.  (just like the KKK can yell whatever they want, if they do not make a move towards anyone they are allowed to preach whatever beleifs they want) I cannot think of a criminal offense that it applies to, neither did the state prosecutor, or federal prosecutors who looked into the case.

What concerns me is that people are using the race card.  If roles were reversed, and it was 6 white kids who attacked a single black male – the NAACP would still be involved, but they would be screaming for prison as a hate crime.  And if someone came along and claimed the 6 white kids shouldn’t be charged b/c the victim called them crackers, the NAACP would run that person out of town.  So why is it ok when it’s a white victim?

While I do not condone the nooses, it was my understanding that part of the original civil rights movement was to make sure the justice system is color blind.  Not blind to only one color.  I don’t agree with anyone claiming that because a racial slur was used, justifies physical aggression – esp 6 on 1.  (those of you who complained about the police being 6 on 1 on the gater fool, think about it.  cake and eat it?)

I do not agree that these kids, or anyone regardless of their race, should be allowed a free pass b/c a victim used a racial slur.  That is something that can be taken into account at the time of sentencing not the actual trial.  It is not a legal defense.

Posted in al sharpton, fears, first amendment, jena 6, jesse jackson, race crimes | 7 Comments »