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
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.
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.