In Jena, much more than the law needs to be discussed

First off let me say that I applaud Sean Martin for even noticing that the Jena Six is an issue [“In Jena, not all has gone wrong,” Sept. 26]. Most people chose to ignore it, but Martin on the other hand has reviewed the situation. I am not sure if the intentions were just because of his interest in law as a political science major, or if this situation was something that he felt strongly about because of the apparent injustice that these young men are experiencing. Nonetheless, this is more than what most individuals have had to say regarding the matter.

His approach out of a legal position was inconsiderate to the real issue, that the color of each person involved in this event has played a major part in how and why these things have happened.

Let us begin with the all white jury. He is correct that with the vast majority of Jena being white, the probability that Mychal Bell would be judged by whites from his community was a lot greater. There must be consideration taken into account that those black individuals who were selected to be interviewed as jurors probably had two problems with doing this. First, they were trying to avoid causing problems for their own families in the Jena area where racism is alive and well. Secondly, they could have felt that their involvement as a juror would have been in vain considering the fact that they were black and the remaining jury members would more than likely have all been white and less willing to hear their views on whether or not this young man is innocent or guilty.

Next, we will address the public defender and his failure to reject the all white jury. It would seem that the reason that the public defender did not contest this issue is because he knew confidently that this was a battle that he would not be able to win. Most people who have any understanding of law know that you must pick and choose when you will challenge certain things in a court of law. In this case, again with the history of Jena being all white and discriminatory, the likelihood of this defender winning this battle of not wanting an all-white jury would probably not have been very successful and could have possibly put Bell in a position that was worse than before.

The denial of Bell’s bond and the excessively high amount that was set for all of the Jena Six just proves that the brownness of their skin was much more of a factor than the actual threat of them fleeing Jena or harming someone. Bell’s previous charges of criminal damage were mentioned, how does this correlate with his right to a speedy trial, and again the risk of leaving Jena or harming someone? Criminal damage does not project that he is a threat to other people in the Jena community.

The nooses and the “White Tree” let me help Martin here, the year is 2007, not 1965. We have a woman, a Hispanic man and a black man running for president. This is not old “Jim Crow,” nor is it the days of continuous brutality of the Ku Klux Klan or the March to Selma. We as a nation are supposed to be past this, not revisiting it in the 21st century. The convenience store, the young black students being charged with stealing a firearm and the young white students who shouldn’t have had a concealed weapon in their car are all examples of this. In addition, to the fact that he was underage with a weapon, again shows the discrimination. With the fair barn party and the beating of Robert Bailey and simple battery charges brought against the white man, but later the assault of Justin Barker and the Jena Six being tried as adults if possible, and charged with attempted murder in the second degree and conspiracy, come on, does Martin still not see the injustice?

He is right, there is more than one side to a story, but let us both remember that those individuals who come from communities that are non-white most often are not revered as credible and they suffer for it. I, like Martin, hope that all students, faculty and staff that view what I have written, questions some of what I have had to say enough to research it, so that they will also be able to enter a conversation like this with others, and help make cases like Jena stop being a secret, but a catalyst to make change for the future.

Linda Rowlett is a senior majoring in social work.