I knew it was time to weigh in on Jena 6 when out of nowhere, a woman at the 2nd Brooklyn Prisoner Reentry Conference started talking about this travesty of justice, which stems from a black student sitting under a "whites only" tree.
I asked Karyl Hawes-Jones why she cared about what happened in a backwater town in Louisiana. Karyl said:
Where do I start? Racism is not just in Louisiana. We know that racism is everywhere. It's not just the Jena 6 we have to worry about. One can look at what's happening in New York with all the police brutality and all the shootings…Those boys are supposed to spend 22 years in prison for a tree!
Convictions against one of the six teenagers, Mychal Bell, have been thrown out on the grounds that he should not have been tried as an adult. But he remains incarcerated.
Bell could face prosecution as a juvenile and possibly imprisoned until age 21. The five others are awaiting trial on charges of attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
In an email earlier this week, Judge Arthur L. Burnett Sr., national executive director of the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, called the prosecution of the black teenagers "a gross example of prosecutorial discretion. This could become the 'poster board' story for reform of our juvenile justice system all over America."
Tonight, radio personality Michael Baisden will MC a rally at Riverfront Center in Alexandria, La. Special guests will include the Rev. Al Sharpton, George Wilborn and Ice Cube. Music will be provided by Eddie G, Eric Roberson, Don Diego and others.
Buses are leaving for Jena from all around the country. For those of us who can't make the journey, black is the color of unity. Folks are asked to wear black in solidarity with the young brothers who are caught up in an unequal justice system.
No justice. No peace.