Posted Aug. 31, 2007 – The superintendent of the central Louisiana school district – where six Black students were charged with beating a White schoolmate – says a T-shirt in support of the student is just too disruptive.
On Tuesday, nine students sported “Free the Jena 6” T-shirts at Jena High School, a racial hornets’ nest where nooses hung on a tree by White youths triggered the December 2006 fight that landed the Black students in jail. When school officials saw the shirts, they insisted that they had to go because they caused too much of an uproar.
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"They weren't doing anything other than wearing the shirts," said John Jenkins, whose three daughters wore the shirts to stand up for justice, not cause conflict. "The school doesn't have a dress code. They were covered. They're trying to tell them what they can and can't wear."
Jenkins' son, Carwin Jones, is one of the six students charged with the attempted murder of 18-year-old Justin Barker in December 2006.
Mychal Bell, another one of the teens, saw his charge reduced to aggravated battery, for which he was convicted; he now faces up to 22 years in prison. The other four teens are still awaiting trial on attempted murder and conspiracy charges.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Black leaders from around the country, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, have said that the charges are excessive. They point to the circumstances that prompted the fight and the fact that the injured youth, 18-year-old Justin Baker, was well enough after the fisticuffs to attend a school dance later the same day.
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