Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jena Drug Raid: Looks Like We're Going To Have To Go Back

Classic style false drug raid conducted against Jena's small Black community in apparent revenge for Jena 6 protest.

One love to the JesseMuhammad blog for sending us drum beats on this one via twitter.

Jordan Flaherty, an independent [and for what it's worth, white] journalist who was on the front line of helping break the Jena 6 story in 2007 with web articles and video; now brings us the story of last summer's evidence-less drug raid on Jena's tiny Black community.

Jena Sheriff Scott Franklin
Jena Sheriff Scott Franklin

By Jordan Flaherty
Posted: May 13, 2010 03:22 PM

Jena Sheriff Seeks Revenge for Civil Rights Protests

At 4 am on July 9 of last year, more than 150 officers from ten different agencies gathered in a large barn just outside Jena, Louisiana. The day was the culmination of an investigation that LaSalle Parish Sheriff Scott Franklin said had been going on for nearly two years. Local media was invited, and a video of the sheriff speaking to the rowdy gathering would later appear online.

The sheriff called the mobilization "Operation Third Option," and he said it was about fighting drugs. However, community members say that Sheriff Franklin's actions are part of an orchestrated revenge for the local civil rights protests that won freedom for six Black high school students -- known internationally as the Jena Six -- who had been charged with attempted murder for a school fight.

One thing is clear: the sheriff spent massive resources; yet officers seized no contraband. Together with District Attorney Reed Walters, Sheriff Franklin has said he is seeking maximum penalties for people charged with small-time offenses. Further, in a parish that is eighty-five percent white, his actions have almost exclusively targeted African Americans. In a town with just over three hundred Black residents, he sent his 150 officers only into the town's Black neighborhood.

Downtown Baghdad

According to a report from Alexandria's Town Talk newspaper, LaSalle Parish Sheriff Scott Franklin prepared the assembled crowd for a violent day. "This is serious business what we're fixing to do," said Sheriff Franklin. "If you think this is a training exercise or if you think these are good old boys from redneck country and we're just going to good-old-boy them into handcuffs, you're wrong. These people have nothing to lose. And they know the stakes are high."

"It's going to be like Baghdad out in this community at five am," he continued dramatically, explaining that their target was 37-year-old Darren DeWayne Brown, who owns a barbershop -- one of the only Black-owned businesses in town -- and his "lieutenants," who Franklin said supplied eighty percent of the narcotics for three parishes. "Let me put it to you this way," declared the sheriff, "When the man says, 'We don't sell dope today,' dope won't get sold."

Sheriff Franklin said that option one is for drug dealers and users to quit, option two is to move, and option three is to spend the rest of their lives in prison. And this day was all about option three. "They will get put in handcuffs, put behind bars today and never see the light of day again unless they are going out on the playground in prison," he boasted.

At the end of the day, a dozen people were arrested on charges that ranged from contempt of court to resisting arrest to distribution of marijuana, hydrocodone, or cocaine. Despite catching the accused residents by surprise with early morning raids, in which doors were battered down by SWAT teams while a helicopter hovered overhead and then search teams were brought in to take houses and businesses apart, no drugs or other physical evidence were retrieved -- other than small traces of marijuana at one house.

Virtually all evidence in the cases comes from the testimony of twenty-three-year-old Evan Brown of Jena, who also wore a hidden camera during the investigation that parish officials have said provides powerful visual evidence. "We're completely satisfied with the results," said LaSalle Sheriff's Department Narcotic Chief Robert Terral, who refused further comment on the operation.

...see full article here

Unbelievable! Looks like were going to have to go back to Jena.

These trumped up drug raids, based on little to no evidence, and usually on the word of a single snitch is an un-talked about abuse-of-power epidemic in the United States.

Just this past weekend I watched the renowned 2009 independent movie on a fictionalized version of just such a case.
This is the same kind of setup and case that happened in 1999 in Tulia Texas; which led Alan Bean to act there, and then later be instrumental also in bringing the Jena 6 situation to the fore front.

I wonder how are we just now hearing about this case, though? Why did they not reach out to those of us who helped last time. Hmm, wondering if they're not wanting outside help, again. They were all thanking us for coming when we were at the march; and talking to Michael Bell on the phone last year, he expressed gratitude for our assistance.

Maybe they feel that those activities three years ago having caused this act of revenge now, has now turned out to be more of a harm than good. I don't know. I would submit that with there again being exaggerated ridiculously high bails set, and the cost of lawyers; at the least they would need the financial resources that we brought to bear before, and could again bring; even if there is not physical protest in Jena. In which case we would probably need to defer to the consensus view of Jena's Black community on that, or maybe just to the views of the defendants in this drug raid case.

I know that the protest was powerful, though. We were 30,000 deep down there last time. Blanketed the whole city; it was something beautiful to behold.

Tens of thousands of dollars were raised. I know my donation went to Michael Bell's lawyer, because though I donated it through a local business man who was doing a collection at the march, I got a receipt in the mail from the lawyer's office about a month later.

I also helped raise money here in Nashville before I went.

I'm going to call Mychal Bell or his mom in the next few days and see if I can't find out more about what's going on. Hope their numbers haven't changed; it's been about a years since I lasted talked to them. Will also call Alan Bean, and other organizers and reporters from the last Jena stand, and report back.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jena 6: Where Are They Now - September 2009

Quick Where are they now list of the Jena Six, per Friends of Justice:

Jena Six “” Where are they now?

¢ Robert Bailey Jr. is enrolled at Grambling State University and will attempt to walk on to the football team.

¢ Mychal Bell is enrolled at Southern University and will attempt to walk on to the football team.

¢ Jesse Ray Beard is finishing high school in Connecticut.

¢ Carwin Jones is planning to go to college in Texas starting in August.

¢ Bryant Purvis is enrolled at a community college in Texas and plays on the basketball team.

¢ Theo Shaw is enrolled at Louisiana Delta Community College in Monroe and was elected vice president of the school’s student government association for the 2009-2010 school year.

Former Jena 6 student Robert Bailey Jr. is taking classes at GSU [Grambling State] and will try to make the football team in the fall.

I will add

Justin Barker, the student for who's beating they were charged; was expelled for bring a gun to school in 2007. Last I could confirm he had dropped out of school, and simply went to work. If that's changed since I cannot find info to that effect.

Jena Six's Robert Bailey, Jr. Attends Grambling State University

Per Alan Bean at Friends of Justice, the local newspaper; which I believe is the News Star, did a piece on Bailey. Monroe is about 30 miles East of Grambling from my recollection of driving it this past January, and is also the city in which fellow Jena 6 member Mychall Bell resides with his grandmother.

The piece is not available online, but here is some of the text Alan provided:

Former Jena Six student hopes to overcome past, look to future
By Stephen Largen


GRAMBLING — What might have sucked most people into a downward spiral only seems to have made Robert Bailey Jr. more determined to turn his life around.

Bailey, 19, is one of the Jena Six — six black Jena High School students initially charged with attempted murder in connection with a Dec. 4, 2006, assault on white student Justin Barker at the LaSalle Parish school.

The controversial case drew attention across the nation after many called the arrests and subsequent charges racially discriminatory and excessive. A massive civil rights demonstration ensued on Sept. 20, 2007, when at least 20,000 people marched through Jena to protest.

Bailey wrapped up his legal issues late last month when, along with Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Bryant Purvis and Theo Shaw, he pleaded no contest in a Jena courtroom to misdemeanor simple battery. Bailey and the others were sentenced to seven days of unsupervised probation and a $500 fine, but were given no jail time.

They also reached a confidential settlement out of court with Barker.

The only member of the group to serve time was Mychal Bell, who pleaded guilty in December 2007 to second-degree battery and was sentenced to 18 months.

Now, after graduating in May from Shaw High School in Columbus, Ga., Bailey is taking summer classes at Grambling State University, where he plans to major in marketing. Bailey also will attempt to walk onto the football team as a wide receiver...

[According to Bean Bailey attained a 4.0 in his summer courses]

Can’t go back

Robert Bailey said he has only been back to Jena for a total of three or four days since the controversy exploded.

He said he’s made the choice to keep a low profile.

“When people ask me where I’m from, I don’t like to say Jena,” Bailey said.

“People say ‘You know that’s going to stick with you for the rest of your life, right?’ I’m like, ‘For real?’ And I think about it, like, ,you’re gonna be 40 years old and people are going to look at you like you’re that Jena Six boy. I think it is going to stay with me, but it depends how you look at it. I just choose not to suck myself back into that environment where I know I’m going to get the finger pointed at me. I just choose to stay away.”

Bailey also chose to stay out of the spotlight at Shaw, where he enrolled in January 2008 and stayed with family after being kicked out of Jena High.

For his first six months at the school, Bailey didn’t even use his own name.

Instead, he went by the pseudonym “Xavier Lee,” until a local media outlet identified him as a member of the Jena Six.

“The media found out I was in Columbus,” Bailey said.

“I had people coming to me like, ‘Dang, that’s one of them boys. You seen one of those Jena Six boys?’ I was like, ‘Nah, I ain’t seen him,’” Bailey said with a laugh. “I keep to myself, I try to stay to my own business.”

Redemption Story For The Jena 6's Jesse Ray Beard

This is what we fought for...and this is why I don't listen to activist who only want to fight for model citizens in model test cases.

Had we followed that ideology and listened to the naysayers, this kid would still be roting in Juvenile Jail probably becoming disaffect, and learning to be a real criminal.

Attorney gives Jena 6 teen counsel, chance at new life

By Eliott C. McLaughlin

(CNN) -- Jesse Ray Beard said he was constantly in trouble, even when he behaved. It took being accused of the racially charged attempted murder of a white classmate in the Deep South to turn his life around.

Beard, 18, now interns at a New York law firm as he prepares for his senior year next month at Canterbury School, a Connecticut prep academy where Beard is highly regarded among peers and teachers.

"I didn't change the way I act. I didn't do nothing different. It was just that I was at Canterbury instead of Jena," he said. "It was like Jena was out to get me -- and not just me, but other people, too."

If not for the controversy surrounding the Jena Six and the palpable racial tension in the Louisiana town, Beard never would have met the attorney who changed the course of Beard's life by removing him from everything he knew. Watch Beard describe his reaction.

Jesse Ray Beard of the Jena 6
[David Utter, Alan Howard and Jesse Ray Beard in Jena - picture curtesy of Alan Bean]

Alan Howard met Beard, the youngest of the African-American teens who made up the Jena Six, in January 2008 when he began representing him in a lawsuit filed by beating victim Justin Barker.

The fight followed months of disquiet among Jena High School students, including off-campus skirmishes, a school arson and nooses hung from a campus tree.

In September 2007, thousands of protesters, alleging the teens were treated harshly because they were black, converged on middle Louisiana.

Protesters were particularly angered at the jailing of Mychal Bell, one of the six, who was charged as an adult. Later in September, he was reclassified as a juvenile and released.

The Jena Six were lionized and vilified; donations for their defense poured in, as did threats on their lives.

Howard said his first impression of Beard -- that he had "tremendous character, tremendous resilience and tremendous potential" -- was so strong he invited the teen to live with his family in New England.

It's been a tidal shift, Beard said, moving from a Louisiana town of 3,000 to Bedford, New York, a well-to-do city of 18,000 situated an hour north of the Big Apple...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Justin Barker Settles Civil Suit In Jena 6 Case

I had this saved for you guys last week; but then went on vacation and didn't get a chance to publish it for you al. I'm at the library in Alabama putting it up. Anyway, the latest in the Jena 6 situation:

Secret settlement reached in 'Jena Six' civil suit

By Robert Morgan

JENA -- A settlement for an undisclosed amount of money was approved Friday, June 26, by ad hoc Judge Ronnie Lewellyn in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of "Jena Six" beating victim Justin Barker.

Barker was attacked Dec. 4, 2006, at Jena High School in an incident that led to charges against six black fellow students who became known nationally as the "Jena Six."

The criminal case was resolved earlier Friday when the remaining five defendants -- Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Bryant Purvis, Theodore Shaw and Robert Bailey Jr. -- pleaded no contest to simple battery and agreed to fines and seven days of probation, among other stipulations.

Terms of the civil lawsuit settlement were not released due to a confidentiality clause in the agreement.

See full story

The Jena Six Case Ends With Plea Deal

An Alexandria Louisiana Town Talk article states:

"JENA -- More than 2½ years after six black teenagers were charged with beating a white fellow student at Jena High School, criminal charges against the remaining five defendants were resolved Friday.

In a plea agreement that had been approved by both sides ahead of time, the defendants -- Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis and Theodore Shaw -- pleaded "no contest" each to a charge of simple battery, a misdemeanor."

In other words, we won. I think that's the specific charge I stated in past postings that they should have been charged with; not attempted murder with up to 100 years attached; and not calling a tennis shoe a deadly weapon to promulgate such a charge.

Again, as I said with the Michael Bell deal a year and a half ago, District Attorney Reed Walters agreeing to this charge proves he couldn't prove and didn't believe his previous abusive charges; for if he did, there's is no way he could agree to a charge that carries only a maximum of 6 months in prison. To agree to such minimal charges for what was truly attempted murder would be dereliction of duty at the least.

Truth in sentencing and charging is all we ever wanted; and we've gotten something like that.

I may have more commentary in the near future.

The full Town Talk article

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jena 6 Prosecutor Appeals To Get Judge Back On Case

Judge J.P. Mauffray was removed from the Jena 6 case last year by a district court for making prejudicial statements about the defendants. Not racially prejudice statements (that very well may be what drove them); but judicially prejudiced in that a judge is suppose to act as an unbiased arbitrator of the law. Yet, before the they went to trial he was practically proclaiming the accused guilt from the bench.

Our good friend District Attorney Reed Walters, who first charged the 6 with attempt murder; yet within a year had offered an 18 month plea deal to the one defendant he's defendant that he's yet bothered to prosecute, is fighting to over turn this ruling.

Just one thing though; the Judge Mauffray has since resigned!

Talk about the ultimate moot point. But this is Reed Walters showing who he is. His vindictiveness, unwillingness to back down, to reassess, to be told anything, or be moved in anyway has him fighting to get a judge put back on the case who is no longer a judge.

Jena 6 attorneys: Judge's removal should be upheld

Here's a report from www.katc.com

NEW ORLEANS -- Attorneys for members of the so-called Jena Six on Tuesday asked an appeals court to uphold the removal of a judge because of statements he made about the defendants in the case.

The attorneys also argued that Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr., who was removed from the case, has since retired.

"We simply pointed out again why Judge Mauffray is not an appropriate person to hear this case, and that it is moot anyway," said David Utter of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, who represents one of the defendants accused of attacking a fellow Jena High School student in December 2006.

After Mauffray called the teens "trouble makers" and "a violent bunch," District Judge Thomas Yeager found there was an appearance of impropriety in the statements. Yeager was appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to handle the cases after Mauffray was removed.

The five defendants, Robert Bailey Jr.; Jesse Ray Beard; Carwin Jones; Bryant Purvis; and Theo Shaw are charged with aggravated second-degree battery.

Mychal Bell, the sixth defendant, pleaded guilty to a juvenile charge of second-degree battery and was held in custody for 18 months

LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters appealed the removal of Mauffray, who retired in January.

The six black teens were arrested and initially charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with a Dec. 4, 2006, attack on fellow student Justin Barker, who is white. The charges were later reduced.