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  • « Give the Post 'Fact-Checker' a Pinocchio | Main | HRC invents a hate crime? »

    September 20, 2007

    Joe and the 'Jena 6'

    Posted by: Chris

    Shame on you, Joe Solmonese. Whatever moral authority you had to lead a gay rights group, much less the movement, you squandered today.

    Solmonese_2I usually skew toward being the lawyerly type, focused on policy and legal rights and such. Rarely do I read or see stories that cause in me a visceral emotional reaction. But the Joe Solmonese speech about the racial strife in Jena, Louisiana, kicked me square in the stomach.

    I met Joe Solmonese on a spring afternoon two years ago in Washington, D.C., after he accepted my invitation to a get-acquainted lunch. He had recently been appointed to run the Human Rights Campaign, and I wanted to introduce myself as editor of the Washington Blade.

    But unfortunate timing meant this was no ordinary lunch. I had recently returned from Amsterdam, where I had been spat upon, kicked and beaten by seven men who attacked me for holding hands with my partner in the street. My nose was still in a cast, my eyes still bruised and bloodshot.

    Hate_2 Joe was very solicitous and sympathetic at the time. And event though he had not been particularly active in the gay rights movement up until then, but he certainly seemed, at least on that spring day two and a half years ago, to "get it."

    I don't think he "gets it" now. If he ever did, then he certainly lost it today.

    I understand the politics of why HRC became involved in the campaign to "Free the Jena 6." African-American and other civil rights leaders have been very supportive on the issues we say are important to us, and now HRC is being supportive on the issues they say are important to them. It's scratch-your-back and no doubt for some based on a genuinely felt bond among civil rights groups.

    Still, why pick this case? It doesn't involve discrimination of the type suffered historically by gay Americans. I would agree completely that there is racial discrimination in this country, and that the criminal justice system suffers from prosecutorial abuse, biased jury verdicts and lopsided sentences based on race.

    But if these injustices are as common as Joe and I both believe they are, then why pick the "Jena 6"?  Why pick a case of six bullies who beat, kicked and stomped a defenseless teen unconscious in a schoolyard -- as the one for the GLBT movement to take a stand?

    JustinbutlerblogWhen Joe spoke today at a Washington, D.C., rally to "Free the Jena 6," here was the head of the nation's largest GLBT rights organizations standing at a podium comparing the senseless beating of Justin Butler at Jena High School to a hate crime.  But he wasn't comparing victims. Oh no. He was invoking the image of James Byrd no less to side with the six macho bullies who punched and kicked Justin unconscious on the ground.

    I'm sorry but that just goes too far. Way too far.

    Solmonese tried to explain the presence at the rally of HRC, and by extension gay people generally, by saying, "We are here because we know about bigotry. We know about hate. We know the pain in high school of standing apart. Of being taunted. Of standing up, only too often, to be shut down."

    Mychalbell We certainly do, Joe. We know what it's like to be punched and kicked to the ground by teenage jocks filled with macho bravado. And that's exactly what the "Jena 6" were arrested for doing to Justin Butler.

    Football player Mychal Bell (pictured) blindsided Justin as he left the school gym with a punch to the head that knocked Justin to the ground unconscious. There the "Jena 6" commenced to kicking and stomping on him like he was a bug, causing injuries so serious they required hospitalization. If not for the intervention of an uninvolved student, things could easily have been even worse.

    I understand the broader racial issues here, and that tensions were already high because some ignorant, bigoted white students at the school hung nooses around a tree they stupidly claimed was their exclusive social property.  But no one has suggested Justin was connected to the nooses or even that his beating was racially motivated, as if that would somehow excuse it. 

    The "Jena 6" are the type of macho bullies (of all races) who victimize gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students (of all races) every day outside school gymnasiums across this country. You remember those victims, don't you Joe?  They're the ones you're supposed to be defending.

    For the head of HRC to claim to stand up on behalf of gay people and compare the perpetrators of this kid's brutal beating in any remote fashion to the experience of those of us who have actually been victimized by hate crimes, whether because we are black or gay or from any other group, is deeply misguided, politically craven and downright shameful.

    Shame on you, Joe.  And shame on you, Donna Payne, HRC's associate director for diversity, for dismissing the severity of the "Jena 6" beating by noting that Justin was "sent to the hospital and released the same day." Gee Donna, I was never knocked unconscious and was treated and released from the hospital in several hours. Does my hate crime even count with you?

    Scottyweaverblog If the two of you really need to be reminded what a hate crime actually is, then why don't you drive the few hundred miles from Jena, Louisiana, to Bay Minette, Alabama. If you did, maybe you'd learn that just last week, the last of three people pled guilty to beating, stabbing and mutilating Scotty Joe Weaver because he is gay. That's where you ought to be leading a rally, calling out the local media for claiming "there's no such thing as a hate crime in Alabama." That's where you ought to be drawing comparisons to James Byrd.

    Michaelsandy_2 But there were no HRC press releases about Scotty Joe Weaver; no big speeches from Joe Solmonese or poignant op-eds by Donna Payne. They haven't even spoken out this week, as three men go on trial in New York City for the hate crime murder of African-American gay man Michael Sandy.

    Instead, Joe is in Washington and Donna is in Jena, standing up for less serious sentences for violence against the defenseless.  Far too many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youths are tormented by bullies just like the "Jena 6."  And quite a few of us have the bruises to show for their handiwork even as adults. The last thing  we need is the likes of Joe and Donna standing up on our behalf for the likes of them.

    Shame, shame, shame on you both.

    Jenatobayminette

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    1. Shame on, shame on from The Bilerico Project on Sep 24, 2007 7:32:46 AM

      Michael Crawford posted last week about HRC's defense of the Jena 6, where Joe Solmonese gave a speech about how we know bigotry and bias, and the Jena 6 know bigorty and bias, and Black people in general know bigotry and bias, and we should all work t... [Read More]

    Comments

    1. beergoggles on Sep 24, 2007 9:35:02 AM:

      Less invective leveled at each other might help. I see you are arguing at cross purposes:

      - Cris argues that people who beat others up should be punished. He draws parallels from his past to back up his argument and you know what, I agree with him.

      - Others argue that the establishment wrongly punished the black kids who practiced violence more than the white kids who did the same. You know what, I agree with that too.

      So basically it's just that "Free the Jena 6" sounds so much better to yell than "Give the Jena 6 the same punishment you gave the white kids" which is actually causing your disagreements.

      As for HRC pandering to the black civil rights groups on this - I don't see a problem with that as long as they hold to the back scratching promise.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 24, 2007 1:08:18 PM:

      Problem is, beergoggles, you will never have equal treatment as long as any action by whites is automatically considered worse than by blacks.

      Example:

      "And as the father of a 16-year-old boy, I'd rather he strike first than be struck (and that's whether he is called n***** or f*****): anyone who comes into your personal space to degrade you and is aggressive is not going to go away quietly, and I bet that if Justin wasn't taken down, he would have sucker-punched one of the Black students as they were walking away, with no fear of reprisal (after all, he had the school board, the sherrif's department, the district attorney, and, given the comments we’ve heard so far, too many of Jena’s white citizens on his side)."

      In other words, a white student who allegedly calls someone else names is as guilty of, or more guilty than, six black students who beat the living daylights out of him.

      Why? Because if they hadn't beaten him, he would have assaulted them -- because "that's what whites do", according to people like Alejandro.

      It always amuses me how racism, hate speech, and violence is tolerated so readily when minorities preach it. Louis Farrakhan rants about "Jews" and "filthy" homosexuals, and his Minister of Protocol is placed on the state of Illinois's diversity and tolerance committee.


    1. Double T on Sep 24, 2007 1:25:38 PM:

      Mr. Crain, I did not indirectly blame you for being victimized. I’m shocked that you read it that way.

      All I meant to say, is that I take some responsibly for my own personally safety in a strange country while prancing down a dark alley in the middle to of the night.

      And if I were to have a laps in judgment and get punched in the face. I don’t think I would have photographed myself and then tried to promote myself as the international poster child for gay bashing.

      But that’s just me.

    1. Joseph on Sep 24, 2007 1:41:26 PM:

      Every last one of you on this post including the writer are perfect representations of the Racist Eurocentric White Gay and Lesbian Community which could care less about what your Black Gay and Lesbian Brothers and Sisters go through. It is because of one-dimensional narrow-minded one-issue individuals like yourselves that make it so hard for me as a black gay man in my community. I am Black, I am Gay, I am Proud but I realize that there are more issues than gay issues and unlike you all life and death for me does not depend on whether I can get married or not (For me dealing with HIV/AIDS in the black LGBTSGL Community is way more important because if we dont deal with that we wont have to worry about marriage because there'll be noone left to get married). The Jena 6 is a Human Rights Issue therefore the HUMAN RIGHTS Campaign should have been there especially considering the fact that you all dont have that great of a track record when it comes to their views and ideologies on Race Relations to begin with. Maybe you all should start telling the truth and call the organization what you really want it to be. The White Gay Men's Campaign

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 24, 2007 2:05:59 PM:

      "(For me dealing with HIV/AIDS in the black LGBTSGL Community is way more important because if we dont deal with that we wont have to worry about marriage because there'll be noone left to get married)."

      Well, there are three easy ways to handle that.

      1) Use a condom, female or male-type.

      2) Always think of the consequences before having sex, especially when it involves ignoring #1.

      3) Don't use IV drugs or drugs that lower your inhibitions, like crystal meth.

      Oddly enough, these work regardless of skin color.

      And you're also very right; HRC has millions of dollars to blow on blowing homophobic Democrats year in and year out, but it just can't seem to find it in itself to devote that which is most likely to kill off LGBT voters, regardless of color.

      Meanwhile, as far as the "Jena Six" being a "human rights" issue...I only wish you would put a fraction of the time into dealing with whomever gave the Jena Six the idea that beating a white kid unconscious was a good idea that you are into those who are punishing them for doing it.

    1. Kevin on Sep 24, 2007 3:17:24 PM:

      Chris: amen.

      BA: Good riddance.

    1. Alejandro Rodriguez-Lee on Sep 24, 2007 9:06:10 PM:

      "In other words, a white student who allegedly calls someone else names is as guilty of, or more guilty than, six black students who beat the living daylights out of him. Why? Because if they hadn't beaten him, he would have assaulted them -- because "that's what whites do", according to people like Alejandro."

      That’s not what I wrote or implied; either you don’t know how to read or you are deliberately distorting what was stated to push your own agenda. For example...

      "It always amuses me how racism, hate speech, and violence is tolerated so readily when minorities preach it. Louis Farrakhan rants about "Jews" and "filthy" homosexuals, and his Minister of Protocol is placed on the state of Illinois's diversity and tolerance committee."

      What a convenient and pathetic smokescreen. That there are non-white people on this earth who are bigots is not the issue. While he is hateful, Louis Farrakhan does not have the power to, with the stroke of a pen, ruin the lives of those he holds in contempt or despises.

      The issue is racist application of the law. I’ve never argued that Mr. Bell or his co-horts shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions; the problem is how the district attorney chose to do that.

    1. RJ Rzeppa on Sep 24, 2007 10:27:23 PM:

      HRC is a joke, they whore their stamp of approval to the highest bidder aka "contributor". Kaiser Permanente is on a campaign of discrediting and forcing longtime Gay & Lesbian employees to quit accross their national system. This is after these very people where able to provide information to HRC so Kaiser Permanente Health Plan could score 100 with HRC,albeit KPHP only scored in one region (N. California) but advertises in Pride events that it did it nationally. In Colorado they offer domestic partner health coverage but @ a extreme markup, an example is a 3 decade employee was paying $402 a month for health coverage, while a co-worker (straight) had 5 dependents, 2 step-children and 3 grandchildren, and only paid less than $190 a month for these 5. This issue was on the agenda for a KPHP Diversity Conference in Northern California, and the person running the conference, Ron Knox refused to address it even when it was pointed out on the agenda. The people who were able to get it on the agenda and asked why it was not being addressed were later "reassigned" to lesser position due to their postions were dissolved. Why does HRC look the other way.
      HRC looks the other way on many GLBT issues and supports what networks like CBS see as good soundbites.
      HRC is like many GLBT groups on local and national levels, they won't come to the protest unless there is an open bar and photo-ops.
      Shame on HRC and shame on all the others that stand by watching us worker-bees pushing against that pink ceiling.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 24, 2007 10:45:46 PM:

      "That’s not what I wrote or implied; either you don’t know how to read or you are deliberately distorting what was stated to push your own agenda."

      I know quite well how to read.

      "and I bet that if Justin wasn't taken down, he would have sucker-punched one of the Black students as they were walking away, with no fear of reprisal (after all, he had the school board, the sherrif's department, the district attorney, and, given the comments we’ve heard so far, too many of Jena’s white citizens on his side)."

      You claimed flat-out that their "taking Justin down" was justified because he would have -- repeat, WOULD have, not DID -- "sucker-punched one of them".

      And as for the last, two words: Mike Nifong.

      Where were you when he was pandering to racist beliefs and setting off to "ruin the lives of those he holds in contempt or despises"?

      Oh, that's right; the Reverends Al and Jesse were right there praising him, demanding that these white men be arrested, convicted, and thrown into jail right on the spot because THEY KNEW that the black woman wasn't lying and that these rich white boys had raped and assaulted her.

      Just like YOU KNOW that Justin would have "sucker-punched" these black men, so they had to beat him into unconsciousness.


    1. LaWana on Sep 25, 2007 6:35:20 PM:

      CHRIS YOU HAVE A LOT TO LEARN.
      Here is a part of the article stating more facts regarding the Jena6.
      On Friday, December 1, 2006, there was a private party, attended mostly by whites but with some blacks, at the Jena Fair Barn.[15] Five black youths, including 16-year-old Robert Bailey, Jr., attempted to enter the party at about 11 p.m. According to U.S. Attorney Washington, they were told by a woman that no one was allowed inside without an invitation. The five youths persisted, stating that some friends were already in attendance at the party. A white man, who was not a student, then jumped in front of the woman and a fight ensued. After the fight broke up, the woman told both the white man and five black youths to leave the party. Once outside, the black students were involved in another fight with a group of white men, who were not students.[9] Police were called to investigate. Justin Sloan, a white male, was charged with battery for his role in the fight and was put on probation. Bailey later stated that one of the white men broke a beer bottle over his head,[11] but there were no official records of Bailey receiving medical treatment for the injury.[9]


      Convenience store incident
      On Saturday, December 2, 2006, another incident involving Bailey occurred at a local convenience store. A white student who had attended the Fair Barn party encountered Bailey and several friends. Reports from the involved parties are conflicting,[18] but indicate that an argument occurred, the white student produced a shotgun from his pickup truck, and that the gun was ultimately taken away from him by Bailey and his friends.[5] Local police reported that the accounts of the white student and black students contradicted each other and formed a report based on testimony taken from eyewitnesses. The white student claimed that Bailey and his friends shouted and ran after him, that he ran to get his gun, and that the students wrestled it away from him.[18] According to the black students, as they left the convenience store, they were confronted by the white student with a shotgun. They then claimed to have wrestled the gun away from him and fled the scene.[18] The incident resulted in Bailey being charged with three counts: theft of a firearm, second-degree robbery, and disturbing the peace. The white student who produced the weapon was not

      Your grudge for HRC is blatant. You have done what so many other's with a forum will do.
      PLEAD YOUR OWN CASE FOR SYMPATHY.
      I'm sorry that you were attacked while on your luxury vacation to
      Amsterdam. You may want to do better research on gay friendly locales in the future.
      As a lesbian and an African American I completely support (and yes I am a Federal Club member) HRC, Donna Payne and Joe Solmonese and quite frankly I applaud the organization.
      Yes Justin was beaten. Did this deserve manslaughter and attempted murder charges? Hell NO
      Yes nooses were hanged from the "White Tree" did they deserved to be expelled? Hell YES
      Should those three youths have only been suspended for three days and the incident written of as a prank? HELL NO
      Thinking of the bullies of your childhood it is just as likely that Justin and his friends would have kicked your butt as it is that a black student would have.
      Injustice for anyone is injustice to everyone.
      Yes we have an imperfect system and the headway that HRC has made in congress benefits YOU just as it benefits us all.
      DID YOU SEND INFORMATION ABOUT SCOTTY WEAVER TO HRC? When this travesty was brought to your attention what did you personally do to help the family to bring light to the situation besides complain in your post?
      Members of the community brought the Jena6 travesty to the attention of HRC and a decision was made to support a cause bigger than HRC and the 6 young men in Jena.

      Use your voice wisely and unless you are out creating a better world for all then you are wasting energy and spinning your wheels.
      Have you talked to your black friends about this case?
      (DO YOU HAVE BLACK FRIENDS)
      Your ignorance regarding this case and hurt from the bullying you experienced as a child and probably as an adult screams through your article.
      Invest in professional therapy for your pain and use this venue to report the news with accuracy and not your own bias.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 25, 2007 7:08:08 PM:

      LaWana, your comment can be summed up in one statement: "You disagree with us, so you are racist and biased."

    1. Double T on Sep 25, 2007 7:27:08 PM:

      LaWana, I'll cut Chris some slack. I don't believe he is a racist. That would be crazy to think that. (NDT, now he might be )

      But I do believe he has developed an almost irrational hatred for HRC. Once they got involved he was compelled to champion the other side.

      I can't prove this, but I suspect anytime he hears HRC, his blood pressure goes up. I could be wrong.


    1. Alejandro Rodriguez-Lee on Sep 25, 2007 8:12:54 PM:

      NDT,

      You still can't read.

      I never stated/implied "that's what whites do," nor did I justify Justin's beat down; I merely explained the climate this incident took place in and what the young men involved in it and those who witnessed it perceived (I've actually researched the case). If what I presented wasn't clear, you should've asked for an explanation instead of jumping to ill-founded conclusions and projecting your own racialist perspective onto me.

      Which brings me to Mr. Nifong (yet another smokescreen): you are not in a position to demand to know where I was during the Duke case. But since you went there: why would I have to champion the cause of a group of rich, white, presumably hetero boys who had the resources and connections (something people of color, gays, and/or the poor usually don’t have) to fight an unjust prosecutor when Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity beat me to it? (LOL)

      By the way: where were you and what were you doing when they were being hung up by their balls by Mr. Nifong? You don’t have to answer; just wanted to illustrate how absurd you’ve made yourself look. This “white people suffer injustice, too” game you want to play is tired. Next.

    1. Fige Bornu, Chairman, Positive African Image Institute on Sep 26, 2007 12:12:42 AM:

      you white gays are just as pathetic as the straight kkk.

      fuk u hoes.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 26, 2007 3:06:46 AM:

      "I never stated/implied "that's what whites do," nor did I justify Justin's beat down"

      Again, I repeat your words, Alejandro:

      "and I bet that if Justin wasn't taken down, he would have sucker-punched one of the Black students as they were walking away, with no fear of reprisal (after all, he had the school board, the sherrif's department, the district attorney, and, given the comments we’ve heard so far, too many of Jena’s white citizens on his side)."


      And then you aired your racist and hypocritical beliefs in the next statement.

      "why would I have to champion the cause of a group of rich, white, presumably hetero boys who had the resources and connections (something people of color, gays, and/or the poor usually don’t have) to fight an unjust prosecutor when Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity beat me to it? (LOL)"

      Because you CLAIM to care about justice REGARDLESS of race or social class.

      But as we see, you don't care and won't lift a finger if it is rich white straight people involved. Indeed, you make the racist implication that these people don't deserve justice because they are rich and white and straight.

      In short, you defend black thugs who beat another person unconscious by claiming they were justified because the person they beat would have "sucker-punched" them.....and then claim that rich white straight people who were falsely accused don't deserve justice because of their skin color, social class, and sexual orientation.

    1. Ari on Sep 28, 2007 2:47:50 AM:

      Ok People. Let me set this straight for you. It is not ok to stomp on someone’s head with all your might even if you have been taunted. NOT OK. I don’t care if it was the “gay 6″, it is not OK. I am ashamed of HRC’s blind support of this violent behaviour. As of 2 days ago I was an HRC Federal Club member but I withdrew my support after I contacted HRC demanding answers. I asked them to provide detailed case comparisons (in current times) where a white person had received a lesser charge or sentence for an equally violent crime. They could provide none. If I was facing possible loss of eyesight and hearing due to a violent attack , I would hope that someone would be put away for at least 15-20 years. This does not seem unreasonable. Shame on HRC and Donna Payne.

    1. H. Alexander Robinson on Sep 28, 2007 2:21:53 PM:

      What occurred in Jenna, Louisiana did not have to happen. This all could have been avoided if the local authorities or the school officials fully appreciated and acted on the fact that hanging a noose in a tree constitutes nothing less than a terrorist threat of murder.

      The six youth and indeed their peers had reason to fear for their lives. Having been threatened, seeing that the institutions which were suppose to protect them was unwilling to take action they sought to protect themselves from further harm.

      When Star Simpson donned a white computer circuit board and wiring over a black hooded sweat shirt as she walked into Logan International Airport troopers arrested the MIT student at gunpoint. Authorities call it a fake bomb; though she called it art. Simpson was charged with possessing a hoax device a charge that carries with it up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine.

      Reed Walters, District Attorney for LaSalle Parish, said that the students who hung the noose broke no laws. I am no expert on LA law but the fact that making a terrorist threat isn’t a crime may speak more to flaws in the law than anything else.

      There were clearly other actions that could have been taken that would have gone further than the mere slap on the wrist that the offending "noose hanging" students received. If Simpson’s tasteless prank warranted arrest and prosecution certainly the terrorist “prank” perpetrated in Jenna warranted more than a 3-day in school suspension.

      Having failed to act appropriately to the first offense the debacle was compounded when the six black students, who admittedly took matters into their own hands, were unjustly charged as adults by Walters. Walters indeed did engaged in prosecutorial excess worthy of Mike “arrogant, power-mad prosecutor” Nifong when he charged the six with attempted murder.

      Donna Payne nor anyone else for that matter are making excuses for violence. But there's a appropriate response that takes the circumstances into consideration and that just did happen in Jenna.

      And just what do the critics of HRC and Donna hope to achieve by attacking HRC for standing up for justice for all? I am loath to think that they seek to preserve white privilege.

      As the LGBT movement often quotes Dr. Martin Luther King’s credo, “none of us are free until all of us are free.” No more and no less than freedom is at stake.

      Finally, for the record, this blog may lack the cultural context from my reference to Donna as a Queen was not an attempt at canonization rather a term of endearment common in many black social circles.

    1. Ari R. on Sep 28, 2007 9:15:06 PM:

      Preserving white privilege? That is such a red herring and actually it's just insulting. Black or white, violence is never acceptable. As for being charged as an adult, there are plenty of times I cheer out loud when a white teenager is going to be charged as an adult for having committed an equally savage act of violence. The Jena 6 (who are no children) should be charged as adults just as many white teens are.. for similar offences. The people who call those of us (who have a problem with what HRC did in Jena) racists cannot be taken seriously in a forum such as this.

    1. Ari R. on Sep 29, 2007 10:57:22 AM:

      Here's just one example... a white Beverly Hills teen being charged as an adult, right in my own backyard. Guess you missed this one. Want more examples? There was never any disparity in Jena... just red-hot, blind support for savage hoodlums. Some of you just can't wait to play the race card. It's ugly and it hurts only you. You haven't done your homework or just don't read the news.... or you're blind.
      (CBS) LOS ANGELES The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office plans to try a 17-year-old Harvard-Westlake School student as an adult in the highly publicized beating of a female classmate.

      Prosecutors Wednesday charged Rupert Tumin Ditsworth of Beverly Hills with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly beating Elizabeth Barcay, 18, with a claw hammer, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    1. Charlene on Oct 2, 2007 2:43:48 PM:

      I'm posting a timeline since everyone is making reference to it without one:

      Here is a brief timeline:

      August 31, 2006: A black student asks the school administration if one can sit under the tree in front of the school. The administrators say do whatever you want. The student sits under the tree. The student asked this question of the vice principal at the annual assembly that starts the school year.

      September 1: The next morning three nooses in school colors are found hanging from the trees. The administration conducts an investigation and finds the three white male students who were responsible. The principal recommends expulsion for such a hate crime. Instead, the school board and superintendent overrule and approve short in-school suspensions (which also meant that their parents didn’t have to be notified). Many in the community dismiss the actions as a “prank” and that they did not constitute racism.

      September 6: Shortly after the suspensions were issued, black teens (including the student-athletes later charged with second-degree attempted murder) responded to what they felt was inadequate justice by “organizing” a spontaneous protest by sitting under the tree. A school assembly was called shortly thereafter in which Reed Walters, Jena’s District Attorney, accompanied by armed police spoke and threatened students who were protesting and exercising their rights to assemble and freely speak: “I can end your lives with the stroke of a pen.” As the black teens sat under the tree, strong words were exchanged between some black and white students, which prompted the school to call the assembly. Police officers were asked to come to the assembly first and invited Reed Walters afterward. Apparently Walters was not happy about being called from work, where he was readying for an aggravated rape case. Walters was also holding the pen as he made this statement. A teacher testified to this effect (though not called at Bell’s trial).

      December 1: At a nearly all-white party, a couple of blacks students (invited by some of their white friends) tried to enter, but people at the door prevented their entry and a 22-year-old white man unexpectedly punched Robert Bailey as other whites on the scene also threw punches, kicks and allegedly threw beer bottles, which forced the luckily still-conscious Bailey and his friends to leave. Though Bailey had injuries worthy of medical attention, he went directly home. Therefore, there was no medical record to verify the extent of the injuries. Police arrived, arrested the 22-year-old and charged him with simple battery. He has since plead guilty. Sentence: probation.

      December 2: One of the men who participated in the attack on Bailey the previous night stopped at Gotta Go Convenience store alone. As he was about to enter, he saw Bailey and two of his friends inside. Due to contradicting stories, it is not known whether Bailey and the man exchanged words outside the Gotta Go. Fearing retaliation, the man went back to his truck and pulled out a shotgun as the three black youths exited the store. They wrestled the shotgun away from the man and then fled the scene. However, the three youths attacked were charged with assault and theft while acting in self-defense. (The logic against this is obvious. The man who pulled a shotgun should have just left the convenience store and come back another time if he feared owning up to his attack the previous night.)

      December 4: On the first monday after the fight at the party, Justin Barker taunted Bailey and others about getting beat up; several witnesses say he used racial epithets to provoke Bailey. As Barker left the gym and went into the hallway, one person allegedly ran after him and threw a punch that hit Barker in the back of the head. He fell down immediately, and whether from the punch, falling onto a bench or upon hitting the floor, became unconscious. Though it’s not known to what extent his unconsciousness was apparent to the people surrounding Barker, including the youths who had been kicking him after he fell. There is also gray area as to whether the kicks were intended to severely harm or were simply provocations to have Barker get up and fight. Barker was conscious by the time the ambulance arrived. He was never officially “hospitalized,” though media reports cite two hours of treatment.


      Barker, who was taken to the hospital for stitches and as a precautionary measure, actually went out to a school function that night.

      Six black youths were arrested and charged. All six had been involved in the earlier protest in early September. Their bonds ranged from $70,000 to $138,000. Several families could not afford these outrageous amounts and their sons remain in jail awaiting trial.

      Finally, I applaud Joe and HRC because an injustice against ANY OF US is an injustice against ALL OF US and none of us should turn our head because its "not our issue". I'm Black and gay, both integral parts of my identity and I cannot separate the two, nor do I want to and on the day of the rallies, I wore my black in support of the Jena 6 as I continued my work furthering the cause of the LGBT movement. I agree that violence in any form is unacceptable, but have an informed conversation. Personally, racism is an affront to me, sexism is an affront to me, gender bias is an affront to me, homophobia is an affront to me. Any of these individually and all of these collectively affect ALL OF US.

    1. michelle on Oct 24, 2007 7:54:47 PM:

      This kid justin provoked this incident. He hung nooses under a tree, for white kids only?? How is that not discriminaiting. Maybe they shouldn't have hurt him but how serious could it really have been if he was out that same day, and was healthy enough to go to a class ring ceremony? Maybe do some more research before writing this awful article. This has made me so angry, and makes me wonder how people could be so selfish and narrow minded. Open your eyes! Stop feeling bad for yourself and comparing your situation to this because its different. Put yourself in the Jena 6's position and think how they must feel. They are being unfairly tried and very discriminated against.

    1. mister larry on Apr 16, 2011 7:07:34 AM:

      any useful black-gay alliance ended in the late 1980s with the emergence of hip hop/black thug culture which bashes queers and sent that mentality to every white school in america through rap music. black queers and jewish race hustlers are nothing but bitter baggage who don't want to see white gays have rights as they do. black queers have rights over whites but not over straight blacks. they can live without gay rights since they are already protected.

      this same rote bullcrap about straight white males being the enemy is idiotic and people like Joe Solmonese should never have been appointed to anything.

      in the past 20 years black hip hop/thug culture has become accepted when it was initially hated more than queers were during the 1980s. women can now have a man arrested on the spot for threatening her but queers are afraid to walk the street for fear of violence and most of it comes from bashers who idolize hip hop/black thug culture and even ghetto women who hate queers. i've had black women call me a faggot and threaten to arrest me for sexual assault. gay rights are over and it's time to go back in the closet or risk making things even worse by being associated with people like Joe Solmonese and their jena 6 supporters. they are making queers hated more and more by former fence-sitting whites who could have been gay-friendly allies while black thugs(like russell simmons) in high positions have spread their anti-gay sentiment to every school in america through their hip hop/thug promotion and church-loving, anti-racism culture.

      it's time to get rid of this black & race-obsessed jewish baggage before every white gay guy with a brain decides it's better to be in the closet than to be associated with people like Joe Solmonese and their white-hating agenda who have caused white gays to be hated more than ever.

      blacks as a collective whole are not giving any rights to any gays-- accept this and move on. jews like Joe Solmonese are more concerned about further harming hate-crimes victims like justin butler because they are straight christians than in helping gays not get bashed.

      there are already millions of people who are already fighting against racism while gay acceptance is retracting and the self appointed " gay leaders" say the gay bashing is increasing because more gays are visible. this is a lie to cover up their uselessness to gay rights. gay hate has increased and no one is taking gays seriously anymore. go back in the closet and do not donate money so people like joe solomese will realize they have no support from queers at all.

    1. returned to the closet and glad i did on Apr 16, 2011 7:28:54 AM:

      the murder of the gay black guy would have resulted in more prison time for the murderers if the HRC took up the issue and it would have angered blacks who oppose gay rights who do not want to see black men prosecuted for gay bashing. if they don't want to see black men prosecuted for bashing a gay black person do you really think they would want the black bashers of a white queer prosecuted?

      gay rights should have beenonly about gay rights and gay freedom but instead it degenerated into a prison block style system of getting freedom granted from race-obsessed bullies who say they are oppressed by the same system who will not grant gay rights until everything they want is fulfilled.

      and jews need to stop saying nazis were homosexuals and to oppose queer and many conservative interfaith jews are inciting white christians in churches to hate queers and hate muslims. it's time to get rid of this jew baggage and see how well they do on their own.

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