Jena... and Genarlow

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

By now, you may have heard of a little town in Louisiana called Jena. You may know it's pronounced GEE-nuh, and that there was an incident there involving high school students, race, and nooses hung from a schoolyard tree. But did you know that the beating in question took place almost a year ago? That the nooses went up long before that, last August? Black bloggers were all over the story nearly from the get-go thanks to a Chicago Tribune article by Howard Witt, but it took a VERY long time for the mainstream media to pick up on the story. Kind of reminds me of another long-ignored case of African American high school students facing charges... that of Genarlow Wilson (not to mention Shaquanda Cotton, another of Witt's subjects). Are the stories truly comparable? And if so, what does that say about the cases and the coverage?

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Why was there no town or city from the southwest ie: E TX NM AZ included in the movie. That would seem to me to have solved the problem. Our PBS station did their own version of the WWII format to take care of the issue.

Sent by Robert Selby | 2:59 PM | 9-24-2007

When Mayor Ray Nagin made the comment that this could have been his son that this happened to, did he mean that his son could have been the one who beat up a fellow teen in a racially tense moment? Or that his son could have been held indefinitely without bail for his crimes? Either way I can't have too much sympathy for his son in this hypothetical situation he has imagined.
Phoenix, AZ

Sent by Joey | 3:18 PM | 9-24-2007

I am so sick of this topic can we talk about something more important and quit whining about race

Sent by adam | 3:19 PM | 9-24-2007

America is still a very racist society. The cause is not about Mr. Bell or the other (5)it's about blacks being targeted for higher time spent in jail! I hope that attention is bought to the case in West Va. This girl was trotured by a white family. I had to post the story on my web sie CriminalsRus.com under " America The Ulgy"!

Sent by Malcolm | 3:21 PM | 9-24-2007

I've known about the Jena 6 story since the beginning as I watch or listen on KBOO FM public radio in Portland, OR to Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Main stream media news is always behind public news if they carry any of the important stories at all. NPR took a long time to follow this story as well. Democracy Now! has devoted many shows to keep us updated on that story. Shawn Williams I'll look into your blog. Keep up the good work!!

Sent by Kelly Fowler | 3:22 PM | 9-24-2007

Your host is not listening to the callers. The first caller did not say that this was simply a case of of 6 thugs beating up a white guy. He said that Jason Whitlock said that the media would ignore the facts and twist the story to be " that 6 thugs beat up a white guy." You host needs to correct his mistake and do a much better job of listening. These errors undermine his and the shows credibility.

Sent by S. R. Clinkscales | 3:27 PM | 9-24-2007

If I have the details of this story right it seems that everyone involved; black and white have had problems with the law before. I can understand the media missing this. Take the color away... 6 guys beating up one guy and the 6 guys are in jail. Where exactly is the injustice?

Sent by Michael | 3:42 PM | 9-24-2007

Ethical Conduct Complaint will be filed against the Jena DA for engaging in conflict of intrest in this matter.
Lets see if the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board will "take his life away with the stroke of a pen", as he stated to the high school population in Jena LA Thank God I live in the NORTH!

Sent by Dr. Tran | 6:08 PM | 9-24-2007

If you beat someone in the head AFTER they are unconcious than that is ATTEMPTED murder,regardless of the extent of their injuries. This is no new concept of law. In the Jena case, white and black witnesses, made statements that the Jena6 did just that. The victim did not say this...his head hit concrete after the first blow from behind and he was out. Black and white students identified the "JENA6" and discribed the event, NOT the victim.

The victim was not involved in the noose incident, the fight at the party or the store.
When a person is on probation for violent crimes, they automatically violate their probation terms just by being arrested on a new charge. So it should be " Free the Jena 5". But that would be wrong also because four of them are already out on bail. So, I guess it should be "Free the Jena 1"

I don't what steetgang some of these bloggers learned their sense of justice and social acceptable behaviour from, but ZERO TOLLERANCE OF VIOLENCE IN SCHOOLS is the current motto of sane people. Yup, that means you get arrested for assaulting someone and if justice is truly served ...you will be punished with the laws deemed appropriate by society.

Sent by Sean | 11:23 PM | 9-24-2007

Why is racism stereo typed to the South? Is racism a term that is being thrown around liberally?

Sent by George Frisby | 9:06 AM | 9-27-2007

I think it would be vey helpful if they brought back the exhibit that was traveling around just a couple of years ago called "Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America" this is also a book .The exhbit was covered by NPR for those of you who didn't hear it the first time look in the archives.They should start the exhibit in Jena and make it required viewing by all involved from the judge, the District Attorney on down, especially the students of the high school it should be required attendance. The problem with this type of behavior is that unfortunately that this type of behavior come from a place of profound ignorance not just racism.

Sent by L. J. Miller | 9:57 AM | 9-29-2007

Support comes from: