September 19th, 2007
03:00 PM ET
16 years ago

Clinton: 'Jena 6' a 'teachable moment'

Clinton said the Jena case is a 'teachable moment for America.'

(CNN)- Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, says the controversy surrounding the "Jena 6" court case is a "teachable moment for America."

"People need to understand that we cannot let this kind of inequality and injustice happen anywhere in America," the Democratic presidential hopeful told Rev. Al Sharpton when she called into his nationally syndicated radio program Tuesday afternoon.

She was speaking about a case in the town of Jena, Louisiana, where six African-American teenagers were initially charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit attempted murder in connection with the Dec. 4 beating of a white student.

Last Friday, the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Lake Charles, Louisiana threw out the conviction for second degree battery against one of the boys, Mychal Bell, saying the charges should have been brought in juvenile court. Charges against Bell were reduced, as were charges against Carwin Jones and Theodore Shaw, who have not yet come to trial. Bryant Purvis and an unidentified juvenile remain charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

The New York senator said she has put a request into the Bush administration to ask the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department to investigate the case because, "we have a responsibility to confront racial injustice and intolerance anywhere." She said she did so because she was troubled by reports that the youths were charged and sentenced in a manner that may have been inconsistent with what was called for.

On Thursday, thousands of people are expected to march on the small central Louisiana town to protest what they feel are excessive criminals charges and bond amounts for the teens.

–CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. lavelle Rochester,ny

    lol yeah she picked the perfect time to call in and talk to Rev. Al you know to show "black voters" that she's for the cause and said its a teachable momment???? Palease HillBill your not fooling anyone with these moves. I tell you there so phony its not even funny. How many racial issues have gone on since the Clintons been in office? Why dont Rev Al put the president of the United States on the phone? He's the one that can pardon those boys if he really wants to. What the hell can the presidential candidates do. I wonder if he asked her any hard questions. Those two are pawns i tell you Al and jesse

    September 19, 2007 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. Ron, TX

    Political opportunism at its best. She must have read Jesse Jackson's rant this morning and thought it was a great moment to try and "score" some blacks.

    September 19, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. pl. at the UN for a while.

    I am not American.

    The BAD side of your nation is that you are far too divided not to err on the side of over-reaching by law enforcement officials.

    In the end justice will be served, and all parties are going to be satisfied. This is the GOOD side of your nation.

    September 19, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. Anonymous


    September 19, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. CP, Boston, MA

    I love how everyone is piling on the hate-crime bandwagon, when the accused will get 300% more jail time if you don't classify the crimes that way...

    Let the DA do their job, and keep these politicians out of it.

    September 19, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. CP, Boston, MA

    Ha, disregard that last comment, wrong topic.

    I still don't like Clinton though.

    September 19, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. T. Brewer, NC

    Anyone who would compare the Jena 6 with the Duke Lacrosse incident is living in denial about racisim in The United States of America!

    September 19, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. Sick of D.C.

    Where was she a week ago when everyone else realized something fishy was going on in Jena?

    She waited for it to ride up the news charts first, so that she could try to ride it nice and high. That's not a leader. That's an opportunist and a scavenger.

    September 19, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. Green, Dallas, TX

    Let's have justice for all. I don't care about a presidential candidate or a crack user on the streets. We need justice for everyone. Face it – We can inquire about the life styles of Britney Spears, OJ Simpson, and Michael Vick but can speak out about our youth regardless of race. WAKE UP AMERICA and stop focusing on intentions of one person over the next and let's fight for the AMERICAN JUSTICE of all

    September 19, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. Common Sense

    Why dont you just fix your damn page so mistakes like this dont happen.

    September 19, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. Lakisha st.Louis, Mo

    This woman is playing politics. It took her days to respond when people kept on trying to contact her.I am Black and I am proud to be supporting the most intelligent canidate regardless of race and that is Barack Obama.

    Why is Bill going to jena tommorow to score some political points for Hillary. What an act but I am not buying it.

    September 19, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. jay, Butte, montana

    She is politicking, giving us the impression she cares, her ambition is second to none....I doubt she genuinely cares though.

    September 19, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  13. Conner

    if she was'nt a racist she would nominate Barack Obama as her vice president she obviously wont do that because she is a power hungry racist, even the republican candidates are better than her,if she truely wanted to transform america than she would want to place a qualified black leader in a relavent position of power.

    September 19, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. Lance in Monrovia, CA

    Hillary Clinton is now going to talk about the Jena six because Jesse Jackson called her and Barack Obama too white to deal with the issues of black america.

    Uh huh.

    Barack Obama. Here is a man that as the Editor of the Harvard Law Review could have had any six figure corporate job he wanted out of college, but instead moved with Michelle into a cramped Southside Apartment and worked for 14 grand a year as a community organizer.

    Here is a man that passed more bi partisan bills in the Chicago legislature than anyone and passed the first serious ethics reform both their and in the Senate, in years and years.

    Here is a man that speaks out against the lobbyists that have hijacked American politics and against a "dumb war" even when when it was political suicide to do so in 2002, and yet he becomes the front runner in the race for President anyway.

    Here is a man that has inspired people all around this country to get involved, to take back the moral arch from the hands of fear mongers, greed merchants and hate makers, so that together we might all bend it "toward justice" as he said quoting Dr. King in a recent speech.

    Here is a man that has movitated people across this country who have never, ever been involved in politics before to speak out and get involved.

    I saw this first hand after driving to Nevada over the weekend from LA to canvass for him. I spoke to 200 hundred people and so many of them said they had hope for change for the first time in years thanks to this man.

    I attended a rally with 9000 people from every corner of California and watched their eyes as they spoke. They all knew that he was the only candidate that could change things.

    I attended a book signing where hundreds of people waited in line for Bill Clinton to sign his book. With a handful of volunteers we held Obama signs and spoke to the crowd. We found a lot of Obama supporters even there.

    The man is a phenomenon. He is able to use emotion for the positive in the same way Republicans have used to the negative for years. Instead of force feeding the basest, worst of human experience to get elected, he aspires toward the best of the human heart, he has worked not just now, not just since last year, but his entire life to bend that moral arch toward justice.

    He understands what we all should. That the time has grown too short to allow another average leader into the white house, to allow someone controlled by any other interest than that of the American people, to allow the same old partisan politics as usual.

    Here is a man that has more legislative experience than Hillary and Edwards combined and more real world experience than all the other politicians in Washington combined.

    Here is a man who lost his mother to cancer while she was between jobs and more worried about her lack of health coverage and the bills that meant than coming to terms with her life and loved ones.

    Here is a man that truly understands what it is to be American in the post cold war world.

    Here is the next President of The United States.

    A good man, for a change.

    September 19, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  15. Prodigy, Los Angeles,CA

    It's teachable in the sense that it teaches me Hillary is as fake as can be and only speaks out for political gain or to piggyback off of Barack. Calling Al Sharpton's show today and now Bill is going to Jena for the march. Wow. Barack has made strides in South Caorlina with black voters and now Hillary feels the need to speak out and have her husband run down to Jena. Not Fooled. Also, I posted a question not to long ago, but did not receive an answer. I would just like someone to let me know what "experience" Hillary has without mentioning Bill or her as First Lady of the White House or Arkansas? Those alone do not give you "experience" or make you "seasoned."

    September 19, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  16. Bev, Dallas TX

    By and by, people still don't know the story. THE SEED OF RACISM WAS ALREADY PLANTED when the black kids asked the principal for PERMISSION to sit under the "white's only tree" on school property. The next day the nooses. The principal expelled the white youth but it was overturned by the superintendant and they were suspended. The next day black kid jumped at party by white group. The next day whtie boy has a shot gun and it was taken out of his hands by a black guy. Black guy is charged for having the weapon. DA comes to the school and in the auditorium where one side is black and the other is white points to the black guys and tell them he can take there lives away with a stroke of a pen. White boy taunts black boys calling them the n- and got his butt kicked. Attempted murder charges are filed against the black guys.
    You white people are in denial and now you think the black boys should go to prison for the rest of their lives. Get'em Rev Al.

    September 19, 2007 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  17. Claude, Mesa AZ

    Good Ole Hillary strikes again. She could care less about these boys. If she can get votes out of it she'll do anything to satisfy her hunger for power. Her body language tells it all! Bill, please stay home.

    September 19, 2007 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  18. Coach Haughton

    Its so interesting to watch this shapeshifting scum place her political chips.
    Why aren't more democrats brave enough to change our party. 8 years of Bill was great, but it polarized America into 8 years of Bush. Lets start debating from the center, Governing from the center, electing faces that independant and republican voters can trust, repairing the greedy, corrupt image that the republicans have brought upon the federal government, respecting candidates for speaking what they believe instead of bashing them for being politically incorrect.

    Let's realize that the nostalgia of our past is not a remedy for their failures. That we cannot change America by staying the same. Let's stop being spectators in a political game of ping pong and truly embrace broader America.

    Simply being better than Bush is hardly good enough. Simply starting over from '92 is not good enough. In lawmaking, a simple majority is not good enough. We don't just want to win, we want to change America and we can't do so by staying the same. Corporations own the republican party, and a corrupt wing of the Democratic party who we need to rise above.(Clinton, Murtha, Dodd escpecially.)

    Corporate lobbying has brought doubt, dishonor and shame on washington. Be brave enough to support ONLY those who refuse to buy in. Be part of the growing army of Americans who defend the honor and effectiveness of our legislative process. The Lobbyists don't represent real people. We are the real people. We are the taxpayers whose money is funneled into the pockets of Multi-Milloinaire CEO's. Can you picture a corporation making a monetary investment without a promise of return? Do you remember what killed healthcare in '93? Lobbying.

    As a Democrats we choose canditates on their bravery, virtue and ability to unite at home and internationally. JFK,Bill,FDR,Carter etc. We do not choose candidates by right of succession. That somehow because someones dad was president we should ignore their track record. The names Bush and Clinton do wonders for news ratings. Let's not let it fool us anymore.

    If I wan't a healthcare plan why would I elect a candidate who has already failed at it, and refuses to fix the reason it failed for?(HRC diry lobbying money.) If I believe Iraq was the worst foreign policy blunder in history why would I elect a candidate who voted for it and has not the descency to apologize to America and the troops fighting in vain?(HRC)
    What does the junior senator from New York have to show for all of her experience except beating the republicans?

    It is not enough to be the most popular name. We are electing a president not a prom queen.
    I will say she looks great on the cover of fortune magazine.

    Let's not just be a better choice than the republican party. Let's be the best choice for all of America.

    Think about your vote a little more and you could help change the world.

    September 19, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  19. James, Phoenix AZ

    JS – Orlando,

    There is a huge difference between kids acting stupid (hanging a noose) versus a physical assault (6 boys against 1 boy). If you can't see the difference (as Jesse, Al, and Hillary) then the LESSON that needs to be taught is if you and your friends are going to beat up someone – BE prepared to be charged with a crime.

    September 19, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  20. Thomas, Denver, CO


    The irony of your post is that you have only singled out Hillary in your tirade. John Edwards was quoted similarly and more vehemently than her in the Ticker today, but you chose to aim your partisan words at her. Is it because she is a woman? I guess you can pick and choose your reaction to perceived prejudice (black/white, male/female) or pandering when it is convenient for you. And so, your entire string of logic is hypocritical and transparent. I am not decided in this election, but I listen fairly and I take all quotes and discussion into consideration. Your rhetoric is just the same old thing.

    September 19, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  21. dawn -- Gaithersburg, MD.

    I believe I read about Sen. Clinton's condemnation of the severity of the Jena 6's punishment approximately a week ago. This would be before Reverend Jackson's comments about Sen. Obama today. Moreover, Rev. Jackson has already endorsed Sen. Obama so Sen. Clinton is unlikely to be pandering to him.
    Finally, it doesn't appear that anyone is suggesting that the Jena 6 should go unpunished. The behavior alleged was certainly culpable. The issue is how severe the punishment should be. As reported, it sounds as though both the venue for the trial and the potential sentences are disproportionate to the offense.

    September 19, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  22. Rose Hann New London, CT

    Thanks for sense and sensibility. The only competant candidate!
    Hillary Clinton 08!

    September 19, 2007 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  23. JW Kopp, Jackson, TN

    If six white kids had been involved in beating a black kid nearly to death we would not hear the end of it. Anyone hear about the atheletes at Duke?

    If these kids get away with this then we will certainly hear from them again, perhaps with a death this time.

    If six white kids had done this they should be punished as well. The problem is that this is going to increase the racial divide.

    September 19, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  24. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    This woman has no shame.

    SHOCKED that some of you would actually consider voting for her.

    September 19, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  25. MG - San Francisco

    To Keith and others....check your facts:

    1. White kids originally assaulted a black kid in nearly the same situation and were not charged in the same manner as the black kids are being charged. No hate crime charged, no "conspiracy to commit murder" or even "attempted murder" charges....

    2. The white kid was not even close to nearly being "beaten to death", had a black eye and went to a party that SAME night.....hardly near death's door.

    3. After the black kid was assaulted by a gang of white kids and the so-called prank of the nooses, the DA came to the school and addressed a largely black student body telling them he could take away their liberties with a stroke of a pen.

    3. Why wasn't the white student who pulled a gun on 4 of the 6 charged with the beating even brought in or questioned or charged with "attempted murder"?

    Clearly, there are some disturbing issues of inequality here of "justice under the law". When we stop seeing things in terms of black and white and treat people equally under the law.....well....who knows how much better things could be. MLK was right when he said he had a dream.....because that's all it will ever be in this country. Only a dream.......

    September 19, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
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