September 19th, 2007
06:15 PM ET
11 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. Tim, Durham, NC

    i think that people are looking at this case very wrong.....victim, who are the real victims here....that boy incited a riot, yet those chargers were not brought on him....he was beat so bad by not 1 but 6 young men that he could go to a social event the same day, and go back to school the next....if that sounds like attemted murder to anyone here than you should really get your head out of the clouds....these boys have been in jail for a year for a school fight, thats justice served...they are trying to ruin their lives because of some brat that got off for "inciting a riot" this wasnt some ruthless mob..any adult would have been charged with this charge, the 6 boys were tried as adult why wasnt this boy charged with anything or the boys who hung the nueses, if thats not racial injustice...the term doesnt exist.

    September 20, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. Henry Tucker, Ga

    Sirena – Detroit,

    You wrote, "Those white kids are no better than the blacks. All of you go to HELL! You should all burn in hell."

    MLK would be proud, Sirena. Yeah, those poor 6 black youths should be released and given a parade for beating down the lone white kid. And all the whitey's in this country should realize African Americans are here to stay (huh?) – and will continue crying racism when any African Americans are charged with a crime.

    WHERE is Bill Cosby? We need his intelligence now more than ever!

    September 20, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    If there was any wrong doing on the part of the prosecutors in this case it will be brought to light. However, it is the courts, and not an angry mob of protestors, who are ultimately the arbitors of justice in this country.

    There are a great many people on this board jumping up and down claiming racial injustice and I find it a little strange that ALL of your factual summaries are VERY different. I know most of you are merely reacting in an emotional manner to what you are being told to perceive as racial injustice but let's wait and see what the courts and the people who actually HAVE A CLUE what's going on down there have to say about it.

    September 20, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  4. Gayla, Fort Myers Florida

    Wrong doing? The issue here is not black or is a matter of does a school fight, regardless of the events that lead up to the fight, result in 6 teens being charged with ATTEMPTED MURDER??? The charges are excessive for a school fight. I've seen gang fights before at my school and none of them are serving prison sentences for attempted murder...was it because it was black on black or white on white? so will this case set a precedent that if a gang of kids jump another, attempted murder will be the charge...i think not!

    September 20, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. L Mack, Chicago, IL

    PEOPLE PLEASE READ THE FACTS OF THE CASE BEFORE POSTING. It would cut out alot of the ignorance of some of the statements on here. It was not just 6 african american kids beating up 1 white kid. Did any of you read about the incident when the black kids went to a party and one was beat by WHITE KIDS? The other fight was in retaliation of that. Also, the 'kid' that was supposedly beat to a pulp was released from the ER the same day and went to a party that same night. People love jumping on bandwagons even if they don't know if there's any gas in it. Do your research, get the facts and then comment.

    September 20, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. Ryan, New York, NY

    It amazes me how both sides of this issue are distorting the facts beyond belief to fit their own agenda.

    I encourage everyone to do research on this topic on their own and not take what you read in this thread as fact.

    The main concern that I have is that the justice system isn't working correctly in this case. Bell didn't have competent defense and didn't have a jury that gave him a fair trial. In no jury should members personally know those involved in the case, let alone have attended high school with the victim's father.

    Secondly, equating shoes with a deadly weapon is a very dangerous precedent. If someone contemplating a criminal act is looking at the same penalty for beating someone as they will see for shooting or knifing, which do you think they'll choose? For 22 years in jail, they'd better have done more than stomp him so mildly that he attended a school function later in the same day.

    September 20, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  7. Jim, Durham NC

    Posted By Plfd,NJ : September 20, 2007 10:57 am

    Terrorized by the nooses? Yeah, they were so terrorized all six of them beat up one kid.

    You're just as racist as Jackson.

    BTW, I'm still waiting for Jackson to apologize to the Duke lacrosse players.

    September 20, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  8. Joe, Charlotte, NC

    What if the role was reversed and the "white kids stomped on a black kid?" All hell would break lose! Maybe trying the kids as adults is a little too harsh, but again, the tried to STOMP" on this kid. Put yourself in these parent's shoes. You would have wanted the same thing. It is not about being black or white; it is about the nature of the crime. Put this difference to rest and think about the nature of the crime. Try this "white kid," if he is guilty in a hate crime, in a hate crime. And try the others in a correct manner. People like Jesse Jackson are the ones that keep this difference alive.

    September 20, 2007 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  9. Stacey, Richmond, VA

    I am sick and tired of 'leaders' like Jackson and Sharpton and the ACLU making racial issues out of everything.

    The nooses were wrong and those kids were punished at the time an appropriate punishment. The school principle even wanted them expelled! It is not like their actions were just ignored and they even gave appologies. No one was PHYSICALLY harmed in the incident.

    The other 6 boys chose to take to violence and some of which appearantly have had run in's with the law in the past.

    Two wrongs do not make a right! Those 6 should be punished according to the law just as the other boys were punished according to the LAW!

    One thing that is most upsetting is that many people protesting haven't even bothered to research the entire problem. I have heard comments made that the boy beaten attended prom the next night – reality he was hospitalized for his injuries and hello since when was prom held in December? Additionally, I have heard stories that after the initial beating a group of white boys beat up a black teen and none of them are facing charges.

    People lets get our facts straight before, jumping up and down in other's faces screaming racism!

    I'm several states away and we are having demonstrations over this – people upset, yelling, etc over facts that are not true!

    Appropriate punishment for these 6? I don't know as I am not privy to their whole story. However, how many times do you allow someone who continues to make choice that breaks laws walk away?

    And finally, what would the reaction be if the situation was reversed? What if 6 white boys beat up a black boy? What would everyone be saying then? I know what those same who want these Jena 6 to walk away with no punishment would be screaming for the 6 white kids to be punished to the full extent of the law b/c they commited a 'hate crime'.

    So 6 black boys beating 1 white boy is not a 'hate crime'? People scream in-justice but yet folks we still have the double standard don't we?

    September 21, 2007 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. On-Warii J. Fuller - Glendale, CA

    You don't have to be black to know that something is terribly wrong here. I'm a Native American. Being discriminated against has been a way of life for my people. But that doesn't make it right. America is supposed to be the 'Land of the Free'. Let's make it that way and stop pitting brother against brother. People tend to forget that a black man, a black doctor, saved countless thousands of lives by inventing the blood transfusion.

    September 21, 2007 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. Linda - Albany, NY

    In the background, groups shouted "Black power" and "No justice, no peace."

    Explain to me how shouting "Black power" is any different from those that spew "white power?" Those involved with uttering those words are no different from the KKK.

    Obviously, racism isn't limited to caucasians, is it?

    Justified? I think not. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    September 21, 2007 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. Joe Denver Co

    Has CNN ever covered a racially motivated attack on a white Gentile?

    Propably not.

    Has CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX or MSNBC ever covered a racially motivated attack on a white Gentile.

    Probably not.

    Yet, they will obsessively report on any racially motivated crime committed against a nonwhite or a Jew.

    So, if the Jena case was reversed and the "victims" of racism were white Gentiles, we would not even know about it.

    September 22, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  13. Shlomo

    The beating occurred 3 months after the nooses appeared.

    Oh and by the way, the nooses were painted the school colors, Black and Gold.

    It was a racial event. Not only that, thousands of Whites and Asians were lynched in the United States. Why do blacks think they "own" the lynching history? Sorry! Blacks cannot co-opt the term noose nor lynching.

    September 22, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. Wolf's_Hook, West Olive, MI

    Time to return to segragation!

    September 22, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Rob California

    Charge them all with a hate crime. It's what would be done if 6 whites attacked a black isn't it?

    September 22, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. Cody Simsboro, Louisiana

    Who wants to bet that if it was 6 white kids against 1 black kid that called them "crackers" Jesse Jackson would not be defending the white kids, he would be calling for attempted murder/hate crime punishment.

    The media is so biased and one-sided it is pathetic. The double standard against white people in our nation is appalling, yet no one seems to realize it, and the ones that do are fired or persecuted and called out as "racists"

    September 22, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. Fraser

    Time to reinstate segregation.

    September 23, 2007 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  18. Kari, Indianapolis, IN

    Okay, six boys beat and stomped a kid until he was unconscious. No he didn't die, no he didn't need an extended hospitalization, but any time a mob of people start kicking a person in the HEAD death can result, quickly, sometimes by ONE well placed kick. The truth is, this could have easily resulted in murder of this white boy. Attempted murder charges are not that inappropriate for the actions of the Jena 6. Should they be charged as adults? no, because they are juveniles, but to be charged in the juvenile system for attempted murder or felony aggravated assault is exactly what should happen to them. By the way, the white boy they knocked unconscious was NOT one of the kids that hung a noose from a tree so please stop printing that, those who are, not that it would matter, it's not legal to lynch somebody for insulting you, it's not legal to give a mob beating to somebody for a racial comment or slur, nor is it acceptable or justifiable.

    September 23, 2007 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  19. Fed UP!

    Why do blacks rally behind thugs like this? We see it time and time again. remember about 13 years ago when blacks cheered at the OJ verdict knowing that he was definitely guilty of MURDER but escaped justice? Black people, why do you do this and expect equal treatment from society? Change your ways black people, or racism will never die.

    September 23, 2007 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  20. Nicole, Deridder, LA

    Will this madness ever end? It's a shame that individual's such as Jesse Jackson make comments such as, "Obama's acting white". This is decrimination on the white race. I was unaware that the white race now has a certain way of "acting". People such as Mr. Jackson regardless of the race make it difficult to move on. Why even make a comment like this? I classify this as a "stirrer". People who enjoy stirring up emotions and provoking hate. People are always looking for a response when making comments such as this. Seeking attention is such a sad pathic way. Let's all grow up a little and get along, end the hate and immaturity!

    September 24, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. Nicole, Deridder, LA

    The "Jena 6" case is a sad and confusing one. Why is it that people protest and defend people who have clearly committed a serious crime. Six against one is all I see in this case. Regardless of race, a crime was committed and someone has to pay the price. Suffer the price for your actions. Had this been a one-on-one fight we would not be hearing about this incident at all. People need to take responsibilities for their actions. Clear and simple. Was a march needed? Defending people who commit crimes has never been an excuse to rally up and march. This is about race pure and simple. Would these marcher be defending six white students if a black student was beaten? The answer is no! I could agrue about it till I'm blue in the face but it wouldn't do any good because it falls on deaf ears.

    September 24, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. 18 year old with sense, Clemson, SC

    First off, most people are looking at the case as black and white. This is a factor, but it's not what this is all about. These guys are being charged with attempted murder, but the "victim" was released from the hospital the same day and ATTENDED A SCHOOL FUNCTION! Also for all of you who call them thugs and say black people are only rallying behind them because of color you are absolutely wrong. If you have any idea what justice and equality are, you would understand why people are rallying behind them. why aren't the white kids who threatened them with guns being charged with anything? why are the Jena 6 the only ones being charged so severely? I'm not saying they should just go free and clear, because they should be charged with assault or something that fits the crime. The current charges are TOO EXTREME and all of you racist republicans need to get your heads out of your asses and realize that it's the 21st century and hanging nooses in trees is NOT ACCEPTABLE! What happened to Liberty and Justice for all? I guess the republican interpretation is Liberty and Justice for all except african american "thugs". Get your stuff together.

    September 25, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. Charvon, Austell, GA

    VICTIM? People are putting too much thought into the wrong things right now, when the nooses were first hung thats when all hell should have broke loose and hate crime charges should have been brought against those individuals and as minors and not adults because that is what they are, minors. 2nd, I've been jumped in and out of school plenty of times and not once did anyone call me a victim and try to raise criminal charges against my "attackers". They took it for what it was, a school yard fight and we ALL got suspended. And with all the racist incidents that occurred after the nooses were hung there's no way (except for direct evidence)you can make me to believe that they just picked on a random white boy for no reason. So in the case of 6 white boys beating up a black boy what charges do you think they'd bring? In a case of 6 black boys beating up one black boy, what charges would they bring? Or would they even care? The point is that if the town was such a great non-racist town then color wouldn't be an issue in this case. Headlines would read: 6 boys beat on 1 boy causing him minor injuries. The color of their skin wouldn't be revealed until further in the passage, if deemed necessary. I am no more of a human being then the next white person and they are no more of a human being than me. We bleed the same color blood and breathe the same air, yet we still define each other by the color of our skin. This is sad people! And black protestors, its ok to want PROPER punishment (cause they should be punished just like anybody else who jumps somebody and they should be ashamed that none of them were MAN enough to take this young man on in a FAIR fight!) for these young men but don't ignore their actions despite their reasoning and stop pointing the finger saying white folks this and white folks that because your undermining and contradicting your own message, and that is that we are all equal. Yeah some white people may be racist just like some balcks are but when you make general statements you involve an entire race or in this case most of the town and I am not convinced that everyone in that town is racist cause if they were then all this would have broken loose long ago or Jena wouldn't have black residents.THINK people DAMN!

    September 25, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. D Hampton VA

    Maybe it's different in Louisiana, but typically repeat offenders obtain harsher convictions for that reason....hmmmm....maybe the justice system is doing it's job. All the crimes committed should be charged as such, all of them. Whites, blacks, purples and reds. Maybe you've got a town trying to get it's miscreants off the streets. Maye you've got a town that needs to crack down on it's racial issues. Lots of maybes, but one thing is for certain, nobody on this blog knows all the facts except the few people in Jena that probably don't want to talk about it anymore.

    September 25, 2007 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  25. Paradise Gray

    "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? – peter"

    Peter, before Justin Barker was beat up he was teasing a black kid who was previously jumped and brutally beaten up by 6 or 7 white youths with bottles!

    Only 1 of the white persons who beat him up was arrested, he was charged with simple assault and released on probation and made to apologize. No attempted murder, no aggravated assault
    (even though bottles were used and the defendant is 21 years old beating on a 16 year old with the help of 6 friends.

    How fair is that?

    September 29, 2007 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
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