Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Judiciary Committee Convenes in the Jena 6 case

Pointed Testimony, Emotional Exchanges Mark Congressional Hearing on Jena Six Case source
conyers, gavel image: google images

Jena, Louisiana is a town that has been crippled by racial tension, and it will not heal until there is justice for the Jena Six, the local NAACP president told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

The Rev. Bryan Moran and several other witnesses testifying before the panel called on the federal government to intervene to protect those hurt “by an unjust criminal justice system.”

“In Jena, two systems of justice exist. That is no longer acceptable,” Moran said.
The four-hour hearing, which Chairman John Conyers (pictured above, far right) called the first of its kind since he’s been in the House, was filled with emotional pleas and pointed criticism of the U.S. Justice Department. Though many questions were raised, the day ended without solution.
Representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice did disclose for the first time, however, that information is being gathered for a possible probe into the justice system in Jena and LaSalle Parish.

Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, convened the hearing after nearly 50,000 people rallied in the tiny Louisiana town on Sept. 20 in support of the six black youths who face jail time as a result of a school fight with a white classmate in Dec. 4.
The fight followed months of tension at Jena High School, touched off by an Aug. 31. 2006 incident where nooses were hung in a tree after blacks sat in a traditional gathering place for whites.

The whites who hung the nooses were suspended for school for nine days and given in-school suspension as well, according to testimony at the hearing. The black students were kicked out of school, and they were arrested on charges of attempted murder with bond set as high as $130,000.

Committee members and witnesses took issue with the handling of justice in Jena. J. Reed Walters, the LaSalle Parish district attorney, was invited to the hearing, but declined the invitation. He is the one who leveled the charges against the Jena Six.

“It is illegal under our Constitution to have one stand of justice for white citizens and another more harsh standard for African-Americans,” Conyers said. “Our committee is going to look at similar situations in Georgia, Texas, California, and across the country."

View 4 hrs of video of judiciary committee (look under Oct 16, 2007) at jena 6 proceedings with judiciary committee
the fact that John Conyers has become so involved is comforting.
Being from Detroit, I know that Conyers is a man of conviction (as his wife, who looks like she'd cut you if you said something wrong . She's been known to cuss folks out, while the cameras rolling!), as
well as very vocal about racial relations. (Michigan is an extremely racist state)
This will be interesting.

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