On September 20th, Mychal Bell--the first of the Jena 6 to be convicted--is scheduled for sentencing. If the District Attorney has his way, Mychal will face 22 years in prison. It's a horrifying moment for Mychal, his parents, and the rest of the Jena 6 families. It's also a perfect time for those who can to come to Jena, in person, and stand with them.
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Background: Last fall, when two Black high school students sat under the "white" tree on their campus, white students responded by hanging nooses from the tree. When Black students protested the light punishment for the students who hung the nooses, District Attorney Reed Walters came to the school and told the students he could "take [their] lives away with a stroke of [his] pen."
Racial tension continued to mount in Jena, and the District Attorney did nothing in response to several egregious cases of violence and threats against black students. But when a white student--who had been a vocal supporter of the students who hung the nooses--taunted a black student, allegedly called several black students "nigger", and was beaten up by black students, six black students were charged with second-degree attempted murder. Last month, the first young man to be tried, Mychal Bell, was convicted. Later this month, he will be sentenced to up to 22 years in prison for a school fight.
The Call to Action:
On September 20th, Mychal Bell--the first of the Jena 6 to be convicted--is scheduled for sentencing. If the District Attorney has his way, Mychal will face 22 years in prison. It's a horrifying moment for Mychal, his parents, and the rest of the Jena 6 families. It's also a perfect time for those who can to come to Jena, in person, and stand with them. We know it's a serious time and financial commitment, but we wanted to give you the opportunity to join the hundreds of people who have already emailed us to say that they will come. If you can join us, please click on the link below to RSVP:
Our presence in Jena--in large numbers--will help focus media attention on the situation in Jena, escalate pressure on Louisiana public officials, and most importantly, show the families of the Jena 6, especially Mychal Bell and his parents, that we will stand with them in the face of this injustice.
On July 31st, with only a few days to prepare, 300 people from across the country rallied at the Jena Courthouse. We delivered a petition signed by 43,000 ColorOfChange.org members to the District Attorney demanding that he drop the charges against the Jena 6. It was a powerful day that made it clear that the Jena 6 and their families won't have to fight on their own. Since then, more than 100,000 people have taken action and contacted the Governor, media attention to the case has grown, and we have an even bigger opportunity to make a profound impact.
As we plan for this event, we want to get a sense of how many people can commit to coming to Jena. Below are some details about getting there, so you can figure out if you'll be able to join us.
If you're flying to Louisiana, the closest airports to Jena are Alexandria (45 minute drive) and Monroe (1.5 hour drive). You can also fly to Lafayette (2.25 hour drive), Shreveport (2.75 hour drive), Baton Rouge (3 hour drive), New Orleans (4.25 hour drive), or Houston (about a 5 hour drive). The closest hotels are in Pineville and Alexandria. As they fill up, we'd recommend staying at hotels near the airports above.
If travelling from out of town, you'll want to get to Louisiana the night before, as things will start early in the morning, probably by 8am or 9am. Organizers will meet you when you arrive at a central location in Jena and get you situated for the day. We will be providing maps, organizers' cell phone numbers, and other information closer to the day-of; you will be able to reach someone in case you have any problems, need directions, or have questions along the way.
Once you're confident you can come, please RSVP at the following:
If you have questions, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can't come, don't worry. We'll be sending emails soon with more ways to take action between now and the 20th. Whatever your participation, we thank you for your ongoing commitment to justice for the Jena 6. It continues to be our privilege to be part of such a powerful community of support for these young men.
Thanks and Peace,
-- James Rucker
Executive Director, www.ColorOfChange.org