Media and the Jena 6

22 09 2007

The two videos below provide an interesting glimpse into the news coverage on the Jena 6. The first one is an early September 2007 piece on CNN that begins with several white men attempting restrain Mychal Bell’s father, Marcus Jones, who is in an understandable fit of rage and sadness, after hearing his son was just convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. The convictions could have sent Bell to jail for two decades. Of course, any parent would react in the same way.

(Since then Bell’s conviction has been overturned by a state appeals court, but still remains the last of the Jena teens to remain jailed. Judge Mauffray Jr. has set bail at $90,000, while the local district attorney appeals the decision by the state appeals court to have Bell tried in juvenile court, since he was 16 at the time of Justin Baker beating.)

But notice how the segment opens. It begins with an image of a seemingly unruly and perhaps one may say “threatening” black man before any real narrative explanation is done to account for his emotions. Then after a few pedestrian interviews are conducted the piece essentially ends with the white parents of Justin Baker, who was the white male beat unconscious allegedly by the Jena 6 teens, being referred to as the victim.

Baker’s parents depicted in this “Justice or Racism” piece as calm and sober thinking southern whites dealing with exorbitant medical bills. Their position of wanting Mychal Bell charged, if not convicted, of second degree murder isn’t sufficiently probed.

Nor is there any mention of the December 2006 fight where Robert Bailey, another one of the Jena 6 teens, was assaulted by a group of white males with beer bottles at a party. Nor is there any mention of how a white Jena graduate allegedly pulled a shotgun on three black high school students when they left a local convenience store.

That is not to excuse Justin Baker’s attackers whoever they were. But critical information about the climate of racial intimation needs to be highlighted rather than suppressed to provide much needed context.

Otherwise, it just seems as if some quick to anger and aggressive black men are somehow responsible rather than reacting to mounting racial tension in Jena, LA. As a result, whether deliberately or not, the viewer is encouraged to sympathize with Baker’s more than the Jena 6 teens. Keep in mind none of the Jena 6 teens pleaded guilty of the charges.

Perhaps I am wrong, or failing to take into account all the demands of telling a story on a cable news in short segments. But the CNN piece struck me as poor reporting. Judge for yourself.

And now check out the second video. If for nothing else, for another perspective on the story. Its a Democracy Now interview with the mothers of Robert Bailey and Robert Purvis, two of the accused Jena 6 teens.

Free the Jena 6.

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6 responses

23 09 2007
kevin

It’s a shame that today in the world we are still paying for events that have occured over 140 years ago. Why is it that anytime a white person is involved with a black person with a disagreement or a view, the white person is always racist. Yet, we let blacks act racist, talk racist, and be racist and all we can do is sit there and not say a word in fear of being racist. I am very ashamed that we as white people still coddle blacks and make them the defenseless beings that we have. Thank God the Jews never asked for the same coddling for all of there hardships. Egyptian enslavement, racial cleansing, and always being the scapegoat for all the worlds problems. We would owe them the world by now. I guess they are just stronger as a race of people that can move on through any rough times. I wish the blacks could learn from the Jews. The link below is to some facts regarding yours post on your site. Fell free to email back.

1 10 2007
Mary

“Thank God the Jews never asked for the same coddling for all of there hardships.”

Germany issued hefty reparations to the family of Jewish people who were murdered or held in concentration camps…so much so that Garmany had to take out a loan from the World Bank to pay other national debts or continue to operate in world trade. Japanese American families were given reparations by the American government if they could prove that they or family members were interned in camps during WW2. They got money and land returned to them.

You silly boy, you have heard of Israel haven’t you? The existance of this “Jewish state” is justified by the hardships and suffering of Jewish people throughout history and they have a divine right to this land due to this suffering. Eventhough the land was occupied, those who were “there first” were displaced and herded into sanction areas.

Not unlike American Indianas whene their land was invaded by British colonists and soon to be American colonists. Speaking of American Indians, if a person can prove that one of their natural grandparents was a full blooded Indiana then they are entitled to a free college education as well as a reprieve from paying taxes.

So you see, all groups EXCEPT African Americans have received some form of reparation for their past suffering when it has amounted to a genocide, meaning the purposeful extermination of a people in number or their culture. Thank you.

14 10 2007
MIB

What most stories leave out is Mychal Bell was on Probation, his prior bail was set at $90,000. which the family could not pay, all this prior to beating up Justin Barker! The incident went back to Dec. 25th of 2005, with 3 more violations occuring while on Probation. The 4 offences were 3 involving violence and 1 involving property damage. The assault on Barker was crime #5, but the Press enjoys leaving the facts out, as controversy sales air time. Bell was found guilty on 3 of the 4 charges prior to the December beating.

Now as for Jessie Jackson & Al Sharpton, they are doing something refered to as “race baiting” exploiting racial tensions for monetary and political gain. Al Sharpton took on another case in Palmdale California attempting to label it the Palmdale 4 out of the success of the Jena 6. But when black activist held a press conference last Thursday on the AV Courthouse steps, they had already seen the medical records which by the victims own doctor, indicated neither a broken arm as claimed or even a sprain! They called for the school security guard to be fired, for the principal to be fired and for the Lancaster black Mayor, the Rev. Henry Hearns to resign for not making the same rush to judgement as they had done. Mind you the incident was in Palmdale, not Lancaster and the claims that Mayor Hearns was not black enough are tainted with overtones of black on black racism. What a shock it must of been, when this morning the newspapers read the girl and her mother had lied. There doctor by permision had interviewed with ABC New stating no apparent injuries had occured.

Labeled as the “Palmdale 4” SCLC, Project Islam and Al Sharpton could be charged with inciting a riot, slander and intimidation, especially so when they themselves claimed the teen had a broken arm, when in fact the TV camera’s were focused in on a cloth arm sling and not a cast! They were kindly asked to leave and not return by local black leadership. The same rush to judgement they accuse of others, they demonstrated in laying claims prior to a completed investigation and one that included statements from the families own doctor. Then in numerous online blogs, angry blacks wanted to kill a school security guard from FALSE information spread in a PRESS CONFERENCE held by what? The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who even brow beat a successful African American mayor and preacher, because he refused to join a black Lynch Mob trying to hang a White Security Guard on False information, they chose to act on.

Where is the moral authority, high ground and ethics of those demanding non discrimination. I doubt Martin Luther King Jr. would allow this to stand and these are Civil Rights leaders?

14 10 2007
KUT

As much as people enjoy talking about them, the focus should not be on Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. I don’t have anything against Jackson or Sharpton, but I actually do not follow their activities that closely enough to compare either man to MLK, nor do I see any reason to judged them by MLK’s legacy.

Most people do not judge Nixon, or George W. Bush by Lincoln’s legacy and probably for good reason.

At any rate, our focus here should be on the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. This includes everything the over prisoning of black males to rampant racial profiling, not Jackson or Sharpton.

It also should strike most people as more than odd that nooses were hung on a tree and nothing was done about it other than a slap on the wrist by the school administration in the form of an in school suspension. Yet the accused teens, on the other hand, have to contend with an overzealous prosecutor

I actually have noticed that numerous news stories have mentioned that Bell had juvy priors and was on probation, well before his recent sentencing to 18 months in a juvy facility.

But while those priors might warrant scrutiny, it does not mean he actually tried to assault Justin Barker, nor does it necessarily mean the other 5 accused teens did either, much less tried to kill him. I would think you would need much more conclusive evidence than that.

Also, most people thought the $90,000 bail was excessive. That’s why it was reduced to $45,000 in a separate hearing before a different judge, after Bell’s attorney’s complained about Judge Mauffrey Jr.

Interestingly enough, Judge Mauffrey Jr. not only presided over what should have been merely a routine hearing a few days ago, but instead decided to send Bell to 18 months in a juvy facility. In addition to originally setting the bail excessively high, he also sided with the prosecutor Reed Walters to try Bell as an adult. And as we now know, that decision has been overturned by a State Appeal Court.

MLK is definitely one of America’s great heroes. But he was certainly no regarded as such when he was alive. In fact, he was often denounced as an arrogant wind bag by many white liberals and segregationists alike. And President Reagan opposed the creation of MLK holiday because he considered him a treasonous near-communist.

Moral authority apparently has a funny way of taking shape over time.

27 11 2007
anonyomus

i think that the whole problem has been taken too far. it was a school fight and it should have been left at that. God put white people and black people on the earth to live together. we all worship the same God so why cant we live together in peace? if the white male was so badly hurt then why was he able to attend an assembly the very same day??? racisim ended a long time ago. i have a bi-racial child and what am i supposed to tell him when he asks me why are white kids being mean to him for being black and why the black kids are mean to him for being white??we should stop and think how this affects our children and how it will affect them in the future. because its not about us amd how we feel or what we think its about our children!!!

27 11 2007
KUT

Anonymous, I sympathize with your anxiety of figuring out the best way to inform your child the intolerance of others in our society. But I have to respectfully disagree with your assertion that racism ended a long time ago. It may be true that legally sanctioned segregation was put to rest in during the 50’s and 60’s, but other vestiges of racism still endure. Consider employment discrimination. A recent study found that white convicts are more likely than blacks without criminal records to be hired for jobs. Consider voting. In the 2000 election, the state of Florida illegally purged black voters of the roles. And in the criminal justice system, black people are more likely to be racially profiled than whites. Now, the Jena Six situation functions as a flashpoint for the treatment in racial disparities within the criminal justice system. This is because the average black juvenile remains far more likely to be arrested and convicted than a white counterpart.

So while I do agree that this is particularly disturbing that kids this young have to confront such profound injustices, I do not think that responsible adults cannot afford to ignore the persistent scrounge of racism and pretend it does not exist. We would not be preparing children for the hardships of life nor would we be contributing to remedying lingering injustice.

Here are some links supporting the claims I just made.

http://www.dmiblog.com/archives/2007/09/white_convicts_as_likely_to_be.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A99749-2001May30

http://www.rand.org/multi/dprc/pubs/2004_newsletter/directors_message.html

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cpp05.pdf

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