September 19th, 2007
06:15 PM ET
7 years ago

The politics of the Jena 6 case

Watch Bill Schneider's report about the 2008 presidential candidates and the Jena 6 controversy.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – CNN's Bill Schneider takes a look at how and why some of the 2008 presidential candidates are weighing in on the case of six black teenagers in Jena, Louisiana.

Related: Jesse Jackson: Obama's 'acting like he's white'

Related: Clinton: 'Jena 6' a 'teachable moment'

Related: Edwards calls for racial justice for 'Jena 6'

More: Court: It's 'premature' to consider motion to release Jena 6 defendant

soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. KAILA ABNEY, NATIONAL CITY, CA

    HOW DARE YOU JESSE JACKSON....WHY OBAMA? LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THE MIRROR BEFORE UTTERING SUCH VENOMOUS ATTACK.

    September 19, 2007 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  2. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    The Jena 6 are accused of beating a fellow student senseless over some turf under a tree. Until the trial, it is indeed premature to make any judgments, but that's never stopped has-been black spokespimps Jackson and Sharpton. Why Chris Matthews keeps aksing Sharpton to blather on his show is a mystery to me.

    September 19, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  3. Tom

    I watched Bill Schneider's video about the "Jena 6", and predictably Schneider says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the crimes committed by the six thugs. If any Democrat dimwit who knows nothing about the events in Jena watches Schneider's video, the Democrat would actually "think" that the six thugs were the victims of a crime instead of the perpetrators of a racially motivated crime. Nothing new for CNN.

    September 19, 2007 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  4. Michael James

    Why is there no "Related" link to the story about Obama being the first of the candidates to speak out about the Jena 6?

    Never mind, I'll do it for you. Here is what Barack said:

    "When nooses are being hung in high schools in the 21st century, it’s a tragedy. It shows that we still have a lot of work to do as a nation to heal our racial tensions. This isn’t just Jena’s problem; it’s America’s problem."

    "There are a number of signs that the system is not working in this case. It’s a problem when criminal charges are brought against some students for fighting, but not others. It’s a problem when a public defender doesn’t call any witnesses. And it’s a problem when a prosecutor decides to try teenagers as adults for a school fight, a charge that could leave them in jail for the majority of their lives. That is why I join my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus in calling on the judge to consider all the relevant factors and calling on the District Attorney to drop the excessive charges brought in this case. And I, along with other members of the CBC, will continue to monitor this case closely."

    "Going forward, we have to fix our criminal justice system. Whether it’s Jena 6 or Genarlow Wilson, it’s long past time for us to admit that we have more work to do to ensure that our criminal justice system is fair. We must ensure that both victims and defendants can receive equal justice under the law, regardless of race, wealth, or other circumstances."

    September 20, 2007 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  5. Florence Austell, GA

    Could what Barack Obama said about this case, way before Clinton and Edwards be kind of "related' here?
    PLEAAAASE,just pretend for once that you are covering the news...
    It is not getting any better over there at CNN.

    September 20, 2007 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  6. Olson Johnson -- Rock Ridge

    Why is there no "related" link to the story about how Barack was the first candidate to speak out about the Jena 6?

    September 20, 2007 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  7. Aaron Wade Jonesville, La

    I think everyone should stand and take notice as to the great job that these people are doing organizing buses, meals, and all nessecary sanitary devices in order for this protest to take place. Where were they before Hurricane Katarina.

    September 20, 2007 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  8. Clueless in Pittsburgh

    I just don't get it. There is a SLIGHT difference between hanging nooses and speaking racial epithets, and six people beating up on one guy. One involves psychological harm and the other physical harm. Psychological harm can't kill, but physical harm can. Why would anyone want to defend 6 people who beat up on one guy and compare it with hanging nooses and speaking racial epithets? Either I don't have the story right or people are defending these six just because they're black.

    September 20, 2007 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  9. peter norfolk va

    I feel that all 6 should be charged with a hate crime ontop of the other charges. If this was turned around and 1 black boy was attacked by 6 white boys it would be a hate crime. So why are hate crimes one sided? Do white people have any rights or is this race card one sided?

    September 20, 2007 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  10. Stan Ohio

    This is not an issue of Black and White. The six black kids beat another kid to the point of unconsciousness and then kept beating him 6 on 1. What should their punishment be a stern “don’t do that again”? The are getting what they deserved and no matter what the geniuses of this issue the 6 kids had no right to beat down anyone 6 on 1.

    September 20, 2007 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  11. Jamar Taylor, Atlanta, GA

    Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson are exploiting this situation for their own personal gain and it is despicable.

    September 20, 2007 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  12. Debbie Johnson, Kenosha, WI

    This whole situation regarding Obama being "too white or not black enough" is old. Did anyone ask Hillary or Edwards if they were "white enough". Everyone is always preaching racialy equally, it time they start practicing what they are preaching. Jesse Jackson should be ashame of himself.

    September 20, 2007 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  13. Matt, Albany, GA

    How can six people stomp someone to the ground, and then have thousands marching through the town for "injustice"?

    September 20, 2007 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  14. Alan Murphy, Miami, Florida

    The deliberate racially prejudiced reporting by CNN in their news reporting of Jena 6 appalls me. That is not to include in their fact reporting of the "white tree" incident, the "pen statement", Jena High School arson, Fair barn party incident, Convenience store incident, trial, prosecution, and legal proceedings, Public outcry, etc. Instead CNN interviews a white youth who states the black kids deserved to get what they get. Shame on you if you want real reporting I guess you need to go to

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jena_Six#The_.22white_tree.22_incident

    As an African American Household my children, wife and myself no longer watch CNN.

    September 20, 2007 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  15. Dr. St.Arnaud Nicolas Gonzales Ranch, New Mexico

    I agree with Jesse Jackson. It seems that Mr. Obama is conducting himself as a WHITE MAN instead of a Black candidate. I can understand a candidate should not be concerned with color because he/she will bwe the candidate of all americans, however in this case I did't see Obama the candidate but Obama, the BLACK LEADER THE POPULAR LIKE JESSE JACKSON, MARTIN LUTHER KING WHO SHOULD TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO REALLY GET INVOLVED IN THE JENA AFFAIR AND SEEK JUSTICE.
    Thank you Jesse for having the gut to say it may be that will help Obama . This for us BLACKS AN eye oppenner.

    September 20, 2007 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. Chris, Middletown, CT

    I agree with Peter – someone needs to denounce those that would rally behind these criminals. Think about that when Hillary has Sharpton and Jesse Jackson standing behind her – they have done more to offset any gains in race relations than anyone else. I would hope that majority of Americans would stand together against them.

    September 20, 2007 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  17. Ron, TX

    I think it's important to note that Hillary Clinton only came out against Jena -AFTER- Jesse Jackson said it was a political defining moment. He said that in the morning. Later that same day, Hillary makes her first statement about Jena, and calls it a "teaching moment"

    Talk about political opportunism and scavanging...

    September 20, 2007 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  18. Sirena, Detroit, MI

    For the idiots on here saying that these boys deserve what they get you all are stupid and prejudice. If you heard the story right from the beginning, I guess putting nooses on a damn tree isn't being racist? I guess when the white boy beat the black boy up it was ok? When the white kid pulled the gun on these boys and they took it from him and then arrested for stealing a gun that could've killed them but in turn the cops arrested them, that was ok. All of you are stupid and racist. But thats okay, GOD takes care of his own and these kids shouldn't be put in jail for the rest of they're lives for a stupid fight. If thats the case they all should be put in jail for fighting. Those white kids are no better than the blacks. All of you go to HELL! You should all burn in hell. Its ashame racism still exist in this day and age, but guess what, African Americans are here to stay so deal with it!

    September 20, 2007 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  19. L. Johnson, Philadelphia, PA

    The fate of an entire town is upon the shoulders of 6 young african american children. Today I wear black to show my support of these children. Look beyond the color of skin and take notice to the injustice to the situation!!!

    For those that agree with the courts and believe this should be treated as a hate crime, I ask you, shouldn't the children who hung the nooses also face hate crime charges?

    Or the school and county officials who allowed these crimes to occur in their school? The segregated auditoriums? The 'white only' trees?

    As for Jesse Jackson, he is becoming a disgrace. Why on earth at a time like this, would he want to start calling names and labelling people. We are trying to unite people – not saying who's acting white and who's not.

    Has anyone ever wondered why the president himself has not commented on this

    September 20, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  20. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Posted By Dr. St.Arnaud Nicolas Gonzales Ranch, New Mexico : September 20, 2007 9:50 am

    Dr. of what, you can't write or spell?

    Are you really equating Jesse Jackson with Martin Luther King?

    Jesse Jackson is popular?

    I wouldn't let you near my dog for treatment.

    September 20, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  21. Bob, Long Beach, CA

    Jesse Jackson needs to come out and publicy announce what all we know, that he is a racist... That the only rights he cares about are the rights of blacks.

    Martin Luther King must be rolling over in his grave when people are supporting a bunch of kids who thought beating some kid up for using racial slurs.

    September 20, 2007 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  22. Wayne Hilton, Gold Beach, Oregon

    You do the crime...You do the time. Black or white. When you have people like Sharpton and Jackson serving their own agenda which seems to be agitating every incident that comes along, and the one sided reporting being done by Cnn, I have to wonder why everyone has seemed to forgot the real victim in all of this. I thought no one ways above the law ( excluding the white House leaders ).

    September 20, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. Sam, Lexington SC

    Jesse...Al, Come on guys. Your crusade against Don Imus was somewhat justified, but stooping to rallying behind criminals is low for even you, Jesse. This rally is calling for the release of 6 black kids who beat up one white kid simply because there were some nooses hanging in a tree. Some people are saying that the "Jena 6" were justified in responding to that 'hate crime'. Nooese hanging in a tree is not a hate crime. I don't understand why this situation is stuck in black and white. Bottome line....6 kids ganged up on 1 kid and sent him to the hospital. That's the real crime. If the white kid would have been black, nothing would have ever been said. If the 6 had been white, nothing would have ever been said. Get a grip on reality people. Mychal Bell is a repeat offender, and while he doesn't deserve to be tried for attempted murder, he does deserve to be put on trial (AS AN ADULT) and given a sentence that fits the charges. Maybe in the future, these kids will choose their battles more wisely.

    The Ramblin Man

    September 20, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  24. Ian Pittsburgh PA

    And another thing. Did you see the picture of that clown in his overalls. He looks like the poster boy for dutchboy paint. Got some news for ya chief, loose the mullett, overalls and racist attitude or i'll make a trip to Jena and finish off what the man started....yeeeeeeah!!!!

    September 20, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. Plfd,NJ

    Dear Clueless in Pittsburgh,

    It is obvious that you are not African American. Hanging nooses has been used as a way to terrorize African Americans. The nooses were only hung after African American students sat under a tree that was reserved for white students. If you were African American you would understand that the hanging of the nooses was a sign of hate and bigotry. If it was a swat sticker would you think differently? Are you aware that many African American were lynched if they even tried to stand up for their human rights never mind civil rights? The children that hung the nooses should have been expelled from school. However, their actions were viewed as a harmless prank. The people in charge had an obligation to ensure that the African American students attended a school that was free of hate and bigotry. The superintendent of Jena, LA failed the children miserably. While I do not approve of violence nor am I saying that the actions of the Jena 6 were right, I do have a problem with the charges that have been filed. Think back to when you went to school, when has anyone ever been charged with attempted murder for having a fight! There were no weapons involved. Have you read the accounts of the eye witnesses that saw the fight? The hold situation was handled poorly. Why weren’t hate charges filed against the students that hung the nooses? We say that justice is blind but it isn’t and it may never be.

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr.

    September 20, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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