Oklahomans Rally For Civil Rights In Louisiana

Wednesday, September 19th 2007, 8:52 pm
By: News On 6

Thousands are expected to flock to a small town that’s become a flashpoint for racial tension in America. The protestors are headed to Jena, Louisiana to stand up for the Jena Six. News On 6 anchor Latoya Silmon reports on who they are, and why some Oklahomans are joining the fight to save them.

The story of the Jena Six began a year ago, but some of its elements, a protest, nooses, racial slurs and fighting, may remind some of a time many thought was history. Many say the small sleepy town of Jena, Louisiana, needs a wake up call, and Thursday thousands are expected to sound the alarm.

"We're coming for equal protection under the law," said civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton.

Al Sharpton and others say the law has failed six black boys from Jena. Their story began at school. The teens reportedly sat at a tree known to be only for white students. The next day three nooses hung from the tree, the perpetrators were never punished.

The racial tension culminated in a fist fight on campus between six African-American boys and a white classmate. The boys claim the white classmate was using racial slurs and they jumped him. That boy was beaten unconscious, but was treated and released from the hospital the same day. The Jena Six were each arrested and charged with attempted murder.

"We're not coming to condone any kind of fighting,” Sharpton said. “We're saying though that there must always be a balance and the criminal justice system cannot overcharge some and not charge others. I asked those who hung the hangman nooses were not charged with a hate crime."

Thousands from around the country are expected to flock to the Jena courthouse where one of the six, 17-year-old Mychal Bell, has been locked up since December. Some Tulsans have made the journey to Jena, and local NAACP leaders say even if you can't make the trip to Jena Oklahomans can still do their part.

“It is history in the making because we haven't had a movement like this in some time,” Pleas Thompson, president of the Tulsa branch of the NAACP said. “So many things draw our attention from civil right and sometimes we don't do anything, but when something like this happens everybody joins together. Get on one band, one song and then we can make things happen.”

Protest organizers are asking those who cannot journey to Jena, Louisiana to wear black on Thursday as a sign of support.

Watch the video: Civil Rights Showdown Planned Thursday