Jena 6 Update
Today on Law and Disorder co-host Heidi Boghosian debriefs Eugene Puryear, Howard University student and key national political organizer for the Jena 6. They discuss the denying of a request to release Mychal Bell, whose arrest in the beating of a white classmate sparked last week’s civil rights protest in Louisiana.
Defense lawyers also have complained that Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. set a high bail for Bell–$90,000–prior to his conviction in the Barker beating. Mauffray had cited Bell’s criminal record, which included juvenile arrests for battery and damage to property, in setting the bail.
Nearly 60,000 protestors demonstrated in Jena, Louisiana, a town with the population of 3000. It was called the largest civil rights rallies in the South since the 1960’s. The protest was scheduled around the sentencing of Mychal Bell who was convicted by an all white jury.
The incidents began when three black high school students decided to sit under a shade tree in the school yard where usually white students sat. The next day three nooses were found hanging from the tree. Though the culprits who hung the nooses were discovered and recommended for expulsion by the principal, the school board chose to reduce their expulsions to a three-day, in-school suspension. After the entire black student body protested peacefully by sitting under the tree, Jena District Attorney Reed Walters informed the school in an assembly that he could take away the lives of the black students with a stroke of his pen.
In the following months several incidents occurred, including threats and acts of violence against black students to which DA Walters did not respond. However, after a white student was beaten up by black students in December, Walters charged six black students with second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The white student was treated at the hospital, released that same day, and was seen at a social function that very night. Mychal Bell, originally charged with attempted murder for allegedly beating up a white student, was later charged with and convicted of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals recently vacated Bell’s conviction, stating that Bell should never have been tried in an adult court because the alleged offense occurred when Bell was a minor. The Jena prosecutor has reportedly vowed to appeal the 3rd Circuit’s ruling.
The other five teens, Robert Bailey, Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis and an unidentified juvenile, face charges ranging from aggravated second-degree battery to attempted second-degree murder. Most of the boys spent months in jail before being able to raise tens of thousands of dollars for bail. Bell was never able to raise the money to make bail, and remains in jail even after the overturning of his conviction. Related – Racism in Louisiana – BBC
Guest – Eugene Puryear, Howard University student and key national political organizer for the Jena 6
Call for National Action Tuesday October 2, at 5pm/Justice Department in Washington DC.
Cuban Five Oral Arguments Update
A three-judge panel at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta heard oral arguments earlier this month relating to the case of the Cuban Five. This is the third time in two years the Eleventh Circuit has heard appeals in the case of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, and Rene Gonzalez, who are serving a collective four life sentences and 75 years in prison.
Law and Disorder co-host Heidi Boghosian spoke at the rally and was at the hearing. “The court was filled with international observers jammed the court to observe both US government and defense attorneys deliver their arguments. Observers came from many countries including Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Ukraine.”
We an excerpt from an interview on KPFK’s The Lawyer’s Guild Radio Show hosted by Jim Lafferty. In this interview Jim Lafferty talks with Len Weinglass, civil rights lawyer and defense attorney for Antonio Guerrero.
You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression
In his recently published book, You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression, author Matthew Rothschild cites dozens of personal stories that outline the big picture of repression in the United States. Hired goon squads of Young Republicans shout down protesters with chants of “USA, USA, USA!” Remember the lawyer who was arrested at a local mall for wearing a “Give Peace A Chance” t-shirt? As Rothschild points out in his new book, the first, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth amendments are under siege and very little is being done to protect them.
Guest – Matthew Rothschild, author of You Have No Rights and editor of The Progressive magazine since 1993. Previously the editor of Multinational Monitor, a magazine founded by Ralph Nader, he is the host of Progressive Radio.