These past few weeks we have witnessed yet another story being totally blown out of proportion by the media. Nothing new. However, this time this story has catalyzed a movement in the southern state of Louisiana.
The “Jena Six,” as they are being dubbed by their supporters, are being hailed as victims of racial inequality. That being said, there is plenty that their supporters and the media are neglecting to tell you that will paint a very different picture.
At Jena High School, the students have decided to segregate themselves. Black and white students alike have all made the decision to sit apart. The white students sit under a tree and the black students sit on bleachers by the gym. The tree that the white students sit under has thus been dubbed “the white tree,” a fact vehemently denounced by black activists. However, it seems to me that the bleachers could just as logically have been called “the black bleachers.”
In August, a black male freshman and his friends sat under the white tree as a joke; the next morning three nooses were discovered swinging from it. Yes, this is disgusting and deplorable. Yet, this event is being used to justify an event which occurs four months later: Justin Barker being beaten unconscious by the Jena Six. Also, if racist tensions that strong were already present in Jena, what would’ve happened if white freshmen had sat on the black bleachers? I doubt that they would’ve been welcome with open arms.
The young men that make up the Jena Six include Mychal Bell and Robert Bailey. Mychal Bell has become the poster-boy for the entire debacle in Jena. Protesters were crying over him, passionately demanding that he be released from jail since he had been denied bail up until this past Thursday. Do these protesters realize that, at the time of the attack, Bell was already on probation for battery? Bell was convicted of four different cases of battery in 2006. The attack on Justin Baker will be his fifth violent crime in just a year. That is the reason why he had been held for so long: because it is completely within the parameters of the law to keep a minor who has committed this many crimes in jail without bail. Perhaps these marchers should have been informed that their sweat and tears were going toward the protection of a thug and a criminal.
Robert Bailey also has a reputation for causing trouble in Jena. In the past year he has been involved in several altercations, all of which involved him and his friends against one white individual. On Dec. 4, 2006, Justin Barker was overheard supposedly making a comment regarding Bailey and a fight a few days prior. Barker was then hit in the back of the head and knocked unconscious. The Jena Six then repeatedly kicked Barker while he lay on the ground unconscious. The Jena Six supporters have tried using the fact that Barker attempted to attend a ring ceremony later in the evening as a reason to question how hurt he really was. What the Jena Six and their supporters should be doing is thanking God that Justin Baker wasn’t killed and that these punks aren’t on trial for murder. So I ask the protesters: are these really the boys you want to spend all of your resources on? I would think that they could find someone better than a couple of goons, most of which have criminal records.
The fuel behind this ridiculous movement is that they are being unfairly punished in comparison with the students who put up the nooses. What these marchers seem to forget is that those white students were punished. In fact, the principal recommended that they be expelled. However, the school board decided to suspend them instead. Also, it has been stated repeatedly that what those students did can’t be defined as a hate crime because there was no actual victim, otherwise they would’ve been charged. Some even seem to believe that the nooses were a fair reason for Barker being beaten up, but no one seems to mention that Barker wasn’t even involved in the incident. They also conveniently forget that the noose incident wasn’t stated as a catalyst to the Barker beat-down until weeks after Bailey and his friends were charged.
So here’s the truth about the case of the Jena Six: The Jena Six are a bunch of punks that deserve to go to jail for beating the crap out of one kid just for saying something behind Bailey’s back. This case is racially motivated. The racial motivation can be seen when you hear that six black kids decided to beat up one white kid. I have to wonder if this many protesters would have showed up defending six white kids if they beat up one black kid. I think they would show up, but it would be to demand the maximum punishment for the six white kids. So just go home protesters, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Go home until you find someone who is a real victim of racial inequality and is more deserving of your support.
Jennifer Gilmore is a microbiology senior, a conservative columnist for the Mustang Daily and a member of the Cal Poly College Republicans.