Oklahomans Join Protests In Louisiana Of Jena Six

Thursday, September 20th 2007, 8:13 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahomans are among the tens of thousands who are protesting what they believe is racial injustice. The site is Jena, Louisiana where protestors came in support of six black teens accused of beating a white classmate. The teens face felony charges, something that has sparked outrage for many.

News on 6 Anchor Latoya Silmon reports it a case that has garnered national and international attention.

Thursday, a protest of thousands came with one voice and mission: to seek justice for the Jena 6.

Jena, Louisiana - a small quiet town has a population of just over three thousand.

But not at the moment.

While most of those who live in Jena, Louisiana stayed home, demonstrators by the thousands poured in, chanting in unison, and shouldering children and signs.

They came from around the country to support the Jena 6 - six black teenagers.

"Everybody had to sit in the back of the bus during segregation. But Montgomery symbolized confronting it. Everybody couldn't vote if you were black. Selma symbolized we were going to get the right to vote. Jena became and has become the symbol of disparity in the criminal justice system," says civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

The story of the Jena 6 first spread on the Internet - then to black urban radio. It's a movement planted beneath a tree that students at Jena High call 'The White Tree' as in whites only.

One day after a black student sat beneath it, three nooses were found swinging from its branches.

The white teens responsible were never prosecuted.

Soon protests led to fistfights - reportedly, whites attacked a black teen, a gun was pulled on some other black teens, the school building was set on fire, and finally six black students beat up a white classmate.

The District Attorney charged all of the Jena 6 with attempted murder.

One remains in jail. Five others are out on bail awaiting trial. Now, activists are screaming 'double standard.'

"Nooses hanging from trees. Come on, that takes us way back. We thought that we were done with that. We thought the civil rights movement took that out with it, but it didn't. It's time for another civil rights movement," says one protester.

However, the District Attorney says this case is not about race.

"It is about finding justice for an innocent victim and holding people accountable for their actions," says Kyung Lah.

In addition to Thursday's events, there is an online petition circulating, a letter writing campaign, and a defense fund for the Jena 6.

To learn more about the Jena 6, click here.

Watch the video: Protests Evoke Memories Of Civil Rights Era