Saturday, October 13, 2007

Jena 6, Meet Spellman 5

KEN SUGIURA of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has done a story on five Spellman University Seniors putting in work on the Jena 6.

Women lead campuswide letter-writing effort to show their support.

Nyeema McCaskill put pen to paper, trying to make a difference. The Spelman College junior was making her voice count.

McCaskill wasn't signing a petition. It was a letter to be sent to one of the Jena 6, the black Louisiana teenagers whose arrests after allegedly beating up a white student spurred civil rights activists to protest.

Shaina Turner, Shayla Turner, Keshia Powell, Janet Williams and Kisha Woods. For their Advocacy in Urban Education class, they have collected letters that will be sent to the families of the six teens.

"I was really happy when I heard about it," said McCaskill, as she took a break from her letter. "I had some feelings I wanted to express."

Friday, the students set up shop at the Manley Student Center for a weekly event called Market Friday, a a bazaar for student groups. Wielding clipboards and candy, they flagged down classmates and encouraged them to sit down and write. In about two weeks, they estimate they've collected about 200 letters, which they'll put in scrapbooks. Students and faculty across the Atlanta University Center have contributed.

"I'm really, incredibly proud of them," said professor Franita Ware, who teaches the education class. "They've truly demonstrated leadership."

Ware's instructions were for the students to take on a social action project. These five students decided to do something related to the Jena 6.

The six teens from Jena, La., gained worldwide attention last month after thousands came to the town to protest. They initially were charged with attempted murder after beating up a white classmate last December, but the charges later were reduced. It was the last in a series of racially charged events that began when black students attempted to sit under a tree at Jena High School, where white students had typically sat.

The following day, three nooses hung from the tree. Critics of the case said the white students who hung the nooses were not punished as they should have been — they received a few days' suspension — while the Jena 6 were punished excessively. "We're not advocating a violent act," Powell said. "We're advocating equal punishment."

But rather than a march, they decided on letters.

"We wanted to be a little more personal," Powell said. "We didn't want to do the same thing everyone else was doing."

They made boxes and signs for every classroom building and dorm on campus. They asked friends, classmates and professors for contributions. Some professors, enthused with the idea, even offered students extra credit if they wrote. The response has overwhelmed the five women. Some contributors wrote multiple letters. One was four pages long.

"I was very pleased to see them become actively involved in something that was salient from their perspective," said Morehouse College professor Abraham Davis, who teaches one of Powell's classes. "This was student-initiated, and that's what impressed me."

Ware assigned the project to develop the leadership skills the students will need as teachers. All five students are education majors and plan to teach. Powell eventually wants to work for the U.S. Department of Education. Woods aims to be a superintendent of a public school system.

As their four years at one of the nation's most prestigious colleges comes to a close, the students have received a taste of the sort of leadership they can command.

"We didn't think it was going to be this big," Woods said. "We're thinking we're probably going to have to do a sequel of this."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mychael Bell of the Jena 6 is Put Back In Jail

Just yesterday, October the 11th; Mychael Bell was sentenced to 18 months by the same Judge who was overruled in claiming that he had adult jurisdiction on some of the charges in the school beating, and who tried to keep Bell locked up without bail even after all his convictions were vacated by the 3rd Circuit Court.

Mychael Bell and his attorney Carol Powell Lexing to his left

J.P. Mauffrey sentenced bail on a violation of probation from juvenile convictions that Bell incurred before the December 2006 fight with Justin Barker that led to attempted murder and conspiracy charges by extra-zealous prosecutor Reed Walters.

It's unknown specifically on what basis a probation violation was determined, and with it being a juvenile case, details are hard to come by as no one is really allowed to talk about it.

It seems that after Mauffrey and Walters were defeated on trying to illegally convict Bell as an adult, and then keep him imprison indefinitely without a conviction, they've trumped up a way to get him regardless, and show the world that they'll damn well do what they want to do.

Bell is now sentenced to a juvenile "detention center". He's already done 9 months in adult prison and doesn't seem to be getting any credit for time already served. I think it's clear that the prosecutor and the Judge have a vendetta, and are going to do anything they can to keep this young man imprisoned.

The Hurricane movie poster with Denzel Washington

This seems to be a Moby Dick story, where Captain Ahab pursues a whale to the ends of the earth for revenge. A repeat of the Hurricane Rubin Carter story as portrayed in the 1999 movie The Hurricane, where a low down Trenton New Jersey cop arrest and gets a conviction on Carter at 12 and then he and the state legal apparatus spend the next 30 years forging fraudulent charges against Carter and doing everything they can to keep him in prison, no matter the evidence, to satisfy a racist grudge and to get stripes on the uniforms of their careers.

For More on Social Justic issues go to

CNN story:

Local Inter-racial Groups Support Torture Victim Megan Williams

Sense I posted about the march centered on Megan Williams in West Virgina in November, but also highlighting the Jena 6; I wanted to still stay on that story here:

by Cash Michaels
Special to the NNPA from the Wilmington Journal

(NNPA) - A group of about 40 citizens – White and Black – came together Oct. 2 at a local church in Logan County, W. Va. to hold a candlelight vigil for Megan Williams, the alleged victim of a month-long racially-motivated captivity, rape and torture.

''We are joining together to show support for Megan and for our legal system and to encourage prosecuting attorney to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law and give justice to Megan,'' Eliza Dillard, a Logan County resident, said.

The group united, not only to show their abhorrence to the crimes allegedly committed by six White Career criminals, but to also let the world know that the residents of Logan County do not condone the racial tragedy that has cast a shadow over their community.

There were those, however, who said despite the show of support, there can be no denying that racism has been alive and well in Logan County long before the Megan Williams case.

“[We] deplore the violence and degradation inflicted on Megan Williams, the young African-American woman allegedly held captive for at least a week and tortured by a half-dozen white people at a Logan County mobile home,” said James Hagood, a spokesman for the Logan County Improvement League and the American Friends Service Committee’s Empowerment for Women Plus.

The rest of the article can be seen here

Thursday, October 11, 2007

National March against Hate Crimes for Megan Williams, Jena 6, and Nooses


For Immediate Release
October 7, 2007



When: Saturday November 3, 2007 12:00 noon

Location: Charleston, West Virginia. Beginning in front of West Virginia State University and Marching to the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston.

March Purpose: To bring national and statewide support to Charleston resident Megan Williams, the Williams Family and victims of other hate crimes nationwide. The Jena 6 case, the rise in the hanging of nooses and other current acts of injustices and intimidation against Blacks/African Americans will all be highlighted at this National March against Hate Crimes. Families and victims of hate crimes that are occurring throughout the nation will attend. Black Lawyers For Justice, the Williams Family and organizers are demanding that Federal Hate Crimes charges be brought in the instant case. They are also demanding Congressional hearings on hate crimes against Black residents as well a wide range of actions to combat the growing attacks on Blacks in America.

Who are the Organizers? The primary march organizers are Black Lawyers For Justice (BLFJ) and the Support Committee For Megan Williams. This march will be endorsed by at least 100 Black organizations, student groups, clergy and leaders of every stripe. An initial endorsement list will be produced on 10-15-07.

Contact: Black Lawyers For Justice (BLFJ) / Malik Shabazz, Esq.
Attorney/ advocate for Megan Williams and the
Williams Family)

Ph: NATIONAL (202) 397-3577 local (304) 657-1493


On November 3, 2007 a historic National March will take place in Charleston, West Virginia. This call to action is to support young Megan Williams, who is the victim of one of the worst hate crimes in United States history. The March is also called to address an unacceptable rise in hate crimes and incidents of injustices currently perpetrated against Blacks or African Americans. On September 12, 2007, and in subsequent preliminary hearings, it was revealed that Megan Williams, a twenty year old Black Woman, was lured into a nearby Logan county trailer house of hatred. Young Megan, who also has special disability needs, was repeatedly raped, choked, stabbed, forced to eat dog and rat feces as her six white tormentors berated her calling her “nigger” incessantly. According to evidence gathered, Megan was sodomized with a stick and a noose was tied around her neck for lengthy periods during this week long ordeal that is verified by several of co-defendants signed confessions. This is an this ugly and outrageous ordeal. Prosecutors said. "Every time they stabbed her, they called her 'nigger." Carmen Williams, the mother, told The Charleston Gazette. "She wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, 'Mommy.' What's really, really bad is, we don't know everything, and they did to her. She is crying all the time." No doubt, had she not been rescued they were going to kill her and throw her in a nearby lake.

Arrested are: Frankie Brewster, 49, and her son Bobby Brewster, 24., Karen Burton, 46; her daughter Alisha, 23; Danny Combs, 20, and George Messer, 27 –six whites from nearby Logan County, West Virginia. The suspects took turns beating, stabbing, choking and sexually abusing Williams, while consistently threatening her with death, according to criminal complaints. A rope was placed around Williams' neck, her hair was ripped out and she was made to eat dog and rat feces, drink from a toilet and lick up blood, the complaint charges. At one point, she was sexually assaulted while scalding water and melting hot wax from a candle was poured on her body. At another point she was forced to lick the toes of the sadistic defendants. She was stabbed in the leg at least four times and both of her ankles were cut by a female suspect who allegedly taunted her, saying, "This one is for Kunta Kinte, and that's what we do to niggers around here.”

“The Megan Williams case is beyond a doubt, one of the worst hate crimes in U.S. History. The Megan Williams case is even worse than the case of the Jena 6”…said Attorney Malik Shabazz Esq., Megan Williams Family Attorney and Spokesman for Black Lawyers For Justice, speaking at the October 3rd preliminary hearing in Logan County, West VA.

Shabazz also said, “The number of outright hate crimes and injustice cases against Blacks is rising so rapidly it’s hard for our office to keep track of. We are calling for every concerned person in our community to respond to this national crisis with vigor and due diligence. The November 3rd March in Charleston is a big step in the direction of organizing to challenge the tide of attacks occurring against Blacks”.


In addition to the Megan Williams case, criminal acts of hatred and intimidation using hanging nooses have sprung up all over the nation. The hanging noose, central to the Jena case, is used by racists as an actionable threat to the safety and well being of Blacks, who have suffered innumerable historical injustices via hanging ropes and lynchings. On Sept 7th, a three foot noose was found hung at the University of Maryland, College Park, roiling the campus. On October 4th, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reported that police were investigating several cases in which nooses were left at workplaces to intimidate black employees in the Pittsburgh area. The Tribune reported, “a supervisor at the Verizon Wireless Business Services Center in Marshall found a black doll with a noose around its neck and racial slurs directed at it.” Several similar hate crime incidents have been reported in the Pittsburgh area in the last month. In Long Island, New York last month, police found a noose hanging in the locker room. Many believed it was hung by a police officer and was in response to the newly elected Black police chief. Last month, in North Carolina, nooses were found hung at a public school. On October 3rd in Washington D.C., white students and historical Galluadet University for the deaf, reportedly held a Black student hostage for over an hour and repeatedly wrote “KKK” all over his body with markers. All over the U.S., Police assaulting and killing unarmed Black victims is on the rise again.


The November 3rd National March against Hate Crimes is also an effort to end the continued persecution of the Jena 6. Mychal Bell and the Jena 6 are still facing jail after responding to racist persecution at the High school in Jena, Louisiana. Also the addresses and phone numbers of the Jena 6 Families were posted on Neo-Nazi/Klan websites, subsequently, white supremacists have committed acts of aggression near their homes and BLFJ has copies of letters from various Ku Klux Klan organizations directly threatening the Jena 6 families. Members of the Jena 6 are endorsing and are expected at this march.

Over 100 organizations, student groups, youth organizations, clergy, rappers, and leaders are set to endorse the November 3rd March (a list will be released on 10/15/07) Like in Jena, organizers going to get busses, travel the highway and organize to support Megan Williams and organize against these attacks.


Friday November 2nd 7:00 pm: A pre march remembrance/ prayer vigil will take place at the Logan County trailer home where Megan Williams was kidnapped and tortured

Saturday November 3rd 12:00 noon: National March against Hate Crimes, Charleston, West VA. March will begin in front of West Virginia State University.

Saturday November 3rd 5:00 pm: Fundraiser for Megan Williams and Town Hall Meeting on Race Relations to take place at Rehoboth Cathedral of Christ in Charleston, West Virginia- Bishop James Carter III is the host pastor.

To Endorse This March Or For Updates And Further Details, Visit The Website: Www.Blacklawyersforjustice.Org Or Call (202) 397 -4577 The Email Is Shabazzlaw@aol.Com

Mos Def Video From Jena

Mos gets amped about the injustice, even calling out he likes of Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, and Jamie Fox

Thanks to Zoe for putting me up on this one.

Mos from Jena being much politer on CNN. And that pick up truck with the large confederate flag, I saw them when we were marching. They were trying to provoke folks by driving right up to the march and trying to act intimidating. Nobody gave them the satisfaction by reacting to them at the time I saw them.

I think I spoke on it in this post about my experience there:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Justice should be blind, but unfortunately, prosecutors are not

[Another Message from the Color of Change Team]

After nooses were hung from the "white tree" at Jena High School in September 2006, the adults in Jena could have taken actions to reduce tensions and help the community heal, but their actions only further aggravated tensions. Reed Walters was one of the main instigators. He came to the school and threatened Black students who protested peacefully under the "white tree."2 He used his prosecutorial discretion to refuse to pursue incidents of white-on-black violence that preceded the beating of Justin Barker, and then abused that same discretion to overcharge the young men who allegedly beat Barker, claiming that tennis shoes were a "dangerous weapon" and the assault was attempted murder.3 From the day he threatened to "make [their] lives disappear with the stroke of a pen," Walters has had a clear agenda, and has followed it aggressively, unfairly, and outside of the boundaries of his position.

Now he's trying to cover his tracks. In a public statement on September 19, 2007, DA Walters claimed that there was no connection between the assault on Justin Barker and the hanging of nooses in the "white tree" several months before.4 In an op-ed in the New York Times, Walters claimed that the noose hanging "broke no law. I searched the Louisiana criminal code for a crime that I could prosecute. There is none." 5 But two attorneys we're working with easily found Louisiana Revised Statute 14:107.2, which creates a hate crime for any institutional vandalism or criminal trespass motivated by race. Walters was creative enough to turn a schoolyard assault into an attempted murder case; he surely could have figured out how to make nooses into hate crimes.6

After the massive protest on the 20th, Governor Blanco was forced to act, but sadly her only action was to give Walters cover to continue his aggressive prosecution. Blan co grandly proclaimed that Walters was not going to appeal the 3rd Circuit Court's nullification of Mychal Bell's conviction in adult court, and would instead prosecute him as a juvenile.7 Sounds good until you remember that 4 young men still face charges in adult court, and 2 are still facing charges as juveniles, for a fight that occurred at school. And Walter's "generosity" sounds even worse when you remember that only one of the young men who attacked Robert Bailey three days before Justin Barker was assaulted was even charged; that he was charged with a misdemeanor; and that he has never spent a minute in prison.8

It is outrageous that Walters is still pursuing charges against the Jena 6, and it's even more outrageous that he's being given political cover by the Governor, by Louisiana's District Attorney Association, and even by the New York Times. Anyone can file a complaint against an attorney by sending a letter to the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, the organization that has the power to take action against Walters, and we want them to hear from as many of us as possible. We've prepared the letter. All you have to do is add your address and put it in the mail. When you send your letter, please let us know at If lots of you send letters, we'll use those numbers to get the media to cover the story, adding more pressure on the Disciplinary Board to act.

Justice should be blind, but unfortunately, prosecutors are not. They see color and it can impact how they exercise their prosecutorial discretion. This is the case for the Jena 6. Reed Walters' attacks have already damaged the lives of these 6 teenagers. He shouldn't be given the opportunity to keep at it a minute longer. Please send your letter of complaint requesting a thorough investigation into Reed Walters' conduct today.

Thanks and Peace,

-- James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, Mervyn, and the rest of the team
October 7th, 2007


1. Jena 6 Defense Fund information page

2. North Texans marching behind 6 young men in Jena. The Dallas Morning
News, September 20, 2007

3. Injustice in Jena as nooses hang from the "white tree".,
July 3, 2007.

4. US Attorney: Nooses, beating at Jena High not related., September
19, 2007

5. Justice in Jena. New York Times, September 26, 2007.

6. The Stroke of a Pen. Southern Poverty Law Center, September 28, 2007.

7. La. Governor says DA won't challenge ruling that sent Jena 6 teen's case
to juvenile court. Boston Herald, September 27, 2007.

8. See reference 5


Subscription Management:

Monday, October 8, 2007

File Letter of Complaint Against Jena 6 Persecutor Reed Walters

Thanks to members like you, the chances for the Jena 6 to
achieve justice have dramatically improved.

Their story has been forced into the mainstream media, the Governor was
finally forced to speak on the issue, Mychal Bell is facing a new trial with
a maximum penalty of 4 years instead of 22, and the systemic problem of
unequal justice across this country is getting more attention.

As the fight moves to court trials, members have helped
put the legal teams on solid ground by generously contributing $212,399 to
the legal defense of the Jena 6, $106,000 of which has already been spent at
the directi on of the families to help get investigators on the ground, bring
in expert witnesses, and to secure the best legal counsel available for
these young men.1.

Having well-funded legal teams and more media attention is important, but we
can't forget that these young men could be free of these charges completely
if not for one man: LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters. He is
still representing the State of Louisiana in the case and needs to be
removed and disciplined for his misconduct immediately.

Can you file a letter of complaint with the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary
Board asking them to investigate Walter's conduct?

Jena Six March for Justice Video

This is from Annazette Taylor, from an Atlanta contigent I met at a gas station on the way down:

Suspended For Supporting Jena 6

I showed you video previously of a student force to change out of her Jena 6 t-shirt on september 20th. Well also here in Nasvhille, at least 1 (and I've heard of more) were suspended just for wearing black on that day.

Video here

You'll have to scroll down the list under "TN Classroom Video" and click on the story entitled "Students Suspended For Wearing Black In Support Of Jena 6".