Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jena Hearings, What Was Accomplished

This is from Alan Bean at Friend's of Justice.

Jena Hearing Postscript
October 17th, 2007 at 3:46 pm (Uncategorized)

In the end, what was accomplished? Most committee members aimed their questions at US Attorney Donald Washington, the man who has been consistently unplaying the seriousness of the noose incident since mid-June. Washington initially felt pressured to side with Jena officials in this matter; now, with some pressure coming from opponents of the status quo, the political appointee has adapted his testimony . . . slightly. It is no longer possible for noose apologists to site Mr. Washington as an ally. So far, so good.

Tragically, most of the people interrogating Mr. Washington and his associate, Lisa Krigsten, seem to feel that the noose hangers should have been tried as adults under federal hate crimes law, even if this meant locking them up for ten years without parole (remember, parole has been eliminated from the federal judicial system).

There are two problems: (1) the limp response of Jena officials to the noose incident; and (2) an inept reaction on the part of the Department of Justice that, in the minds of most observers, appeared to validate the inaction of folks like Roy Breithaupt and Reed Walters.

The hearings represent a giant step forward. They would have been more effective, however, if more attention had been paid to the egregious behavior of Reed and Roy. When Mr. Sharpton focuses on the noose boys he lets Jena officials slip into the shadows.

But this is just a matter of emphasis. The significant fact is that hardly anyone, Democrat or Republican, made the slightest attempt to defend the indefensible. The very fact that most Republicans chose to be elsewhere suggests they have no appetite for this fight.

Unfortunately, proponents of a knee-jerk law-and-order, lock-em-up philosophy don’t have to fight–they currently control the public policy agenda. Nonetheless, we congratulate Mr. Conyers for convening an illuminating hearing on a timely topic.

1 comment:

dsf said...

"Proponents of a knee-jerk law-and-order, lock-em-up philosophy" want the 14 year old kids tried as adults for hanging nooses. Can we say "double standard"? Of course, we can.

Stomping a kid is not attempted murder unless the stompers are bootcamp guards. Can we say "double standard"? Of course, we can.

White first time offenders are not allowed to plead guilty in a plea bargain, but we must "Free the Jena 6" despite their collective criminal records. Can we say "double standard"? Of course, we can.

The supporters of the Jena 6 are given wide latitude to play loose with the facts including fabrications and misrepresentations, but those who doubt are labeled 'racists' for pointing out those contradictions. Can we say "double standard"? Of course, we can.

Unsupported allegations that white students raped a black woman elicit cries for their heads, but when a black student beats his girlfriend, we are to ignore that. Can we say "double standard"? Of course, we can.

A US Attorney is forced to answer a nebulous point of law with a simple Yes or No and given no chance to explain, yet his yes-or-no decision about charging noose-hangers is disputed. Can we say "double standard"? Of course, we can.

We cannot eliminate the double standard in America's court system by introducing more double standards.

If we are to have a Congressional hearing, let's have a real Congressional hearing instead of a kangaroo court. Open the juvenile court histories of the Jena 6 for public inspection. Let past victims of the Jena 6 speak out in public.

Let's get ALL the relevant facts of the matter before we reach a verdict. Let's get some hard evidence that the nooses, the punch thrown at the party, and the convenience store robber are connected by more than just location. What we have now is a scant timeline and conjecture, but nothing more. If we are going to convict Reed Walters of biased prosecution, we need some hard evidence, not the ramblings of a Texas pastor seeking glory in the spotlight.

Apparently since the Duke case, jumping to conclusions based on lies and unsupported evidence is no longer the bailiwick of just the conservative right.