New Black Panther Party Takes on Jena

Published February 15, 2008

UPDATED Sept. 27, 2007 – There's still no word on Mychal Bell's release from jail, but what we do know is that Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, at a news conference Wednesday, said the prosecutor in one of the "Jena 6" cases had decided not to challenge a ruling that sends Bell's case to juvenile court.

Blanco said that although she encouraged LaSalle District Attorney Reed Walters to drop his appeal, “the authority to make a decision in the case of Mychal Bell resides within the justice system.”

"Reed Walters has led a respectable and ethical 17-year career," the governor added, thanking him for his decision. She also said she’s pleased Walters agreed that Bell's case should be heard in juvenile court, "where we all believe this case belongs. ... We believe this case will be handled in a fair and appropriate manner."

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Bell, who remains behind bars, was one of six Black Jena High School teens arrested for knocking down, then kicking 17-year-old White student Justin Barker, also a student at Jena High.

Five of the six were initially charged with attempted second-degree murder but charges against four of them, including Bell, were later reduced. One teen has yet to be arraigned and another was handled as a juvenile. All records are sealed.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said he just wants "an even playing field" because he believes trying Bell as an adult, exposes him to the possibility of several years in prison, and that's “too excessive.”

Black Panther Protection

The leader of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense is telling the family of the “Jena 6” that his organization has got their back. Along with their families, the six teens who were the subject of the massive rally in Jena, La., last week have been the targets of death threats and intimidation.

Many angry Whites have denounced the support the teens have received from civil rights leaders, entertainers, human rights activists, students, politicians and clergy of all races since it became public that they could spend decades in prison for their role in a schoolyard fight with a fellow White student. 

“As Black leadership, we have a moral and ethical obligation to secure the safety and security of the Jena Six families and the Black residents of Jena Louisiana,” Malik Shabazz, an attorney and leader of the New Black Panthers said.

“The New Black Panther Party, the Millions More Movement, and other volunteers from Civil rights organizations will spearhead a nationwide call to provide security, patrols and protection for the families and residents over the upcoming months.”

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Jena 6 'Lynching'

The barrage of threats to the Black teens and their families has come from a growing number of Whites and White supremacist groups in recent days.

On the same day of last week’s protests in the tiny Louisiana town of Jena, a racist Web site reportedly posted the addresses and phone numbers of members of the ‘Jena 6."

This message, “Addresses of Jena 6 Niggers In Case Anyone Wants to Deliver Justice,” which is currently posted on the Virginia-based site “essentially calls for their lynching,” an FBI spokesman tells ABC News.

The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are now calling on public officials – from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to the United States attorney general – to get protection for the teenagers and their families.  Jackson has also asked Bush to step up to the plate for the “Jena 6.”

“This is a test for the disposition of the Department of Justice to serve as an intervenor and a deterrent” to hate crimes, Jackson told The Associated Press.

Attempts by various news sources to reach the site’s editor, William A. “Bill” White, have been unsuccessful.

Symbols of Hate

This isn’t the first time, since the Jena march, that symbols of racial intimidation have been on display, Shabazz says.  Hours after the rally, two White teenagers in the town of Alexandria, La., about 45 minutes from Jena, were arrested for dangling two nooses from their pick up truck in an attempt to incite anger among Black demonstrators who were waiting for buses for their return home.

The very next day, that same symbol of hate was found swinging from a tree and other locations at a North Carolina high school.

Earlier this month, students and faculty at the University of Maryland found a noose hanging on a tree near a Black hang-out spot on campus.

Those incidents are under investigation.

Do you think this will quell the hostility or cause even more outbursts of intimidation from angry Whites?  Click "Discuss Now," to the right, to post your comment.

Written by BET-Staff

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