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Eddie Thompson

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The Battle Against Racism In Jena: Jena-Cide
by Eddie Thompson   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Posted: Monday, September 10, 2007

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How a small, southern town was sacrificed for America’s national sin. The author, quoting a term often used by supporters of the "Jena Six" to illustrate another sort of prejudice and injustice perpetrated against an entire community, gives "the other side of the story" in an effort to shed insight into the mindset of the citizens of Jena, Louisiana.

The truth is no longer important. Jena is officially the poster child for prejudice and bigotry in the south. America found a perfect, flawless lamb to be offered on its national altar of racism. Practically drooling with anticipation, reporters and professional race-crusaders poured into the small southern town of Jena, where the country accents are as thick as the pines that cover the rolling hills of central Louisiana. With such severe charges placed upon the six black students known as the “Jena Six,” the logical conclusion was “racism.” Any inconvenient facts that contradict that conclusion have been dismissed in an Orwellian attempt to shape this story into “Mississippi Burning” revisited. The “Jena Six” can thank their lucky stars that it was a white student and not a bulldog they are accused of beating then stomping on December 4, 2006. Otherwise, PETA and the national media may have pounced on them with the same vitriol afforded Michael Vick. Instead, Jena certainly has a color problem now: black and white and yellow—prejudice, bigotry, and slanted journalism.

 

My name is Eddie Thompson. I am the white pastor referenced by Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune in his article that forced the story of the “Jena Six” onto the national stage. On December 8, 2006, when I wrote my article concerning racism in Jena Louisianahttp://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewarticle.asp?AuthorID=17296&id=25922 —I believed that perhaps the biggest obstacle to our town’s prosperous future was the ignorance of prejudice and bigotry. I am now convinced that the biggest enemy to our future as a whole community has become the misinformation, lies, and prejudice of a national media that refuses to seek out the truth concerning the events of last fall. My evolution forces me to voice the concerns of the majority of our town who believe that any interview or statement given to the media will simply be twisted and mangled to support the forgone conclusion that we are nothing but country hicks, rednecks, who have no compassion on the minorities in our community. Most of the white community would not be content with me being such a mouthpiece for their perspective, but since they won’t speak, I’ll do my best to speak for them. The following are questions and statements I’ve heard privately from the white community:

 

 

 

 

Questions:

 

1.        District Attorney: Why charge those black students with attempted second-degree murder if you intended to adjudicate lesser charges against them all along?

2.        Parents of Students: Why spread controversial misinformation to the media if the truth would serve your children? Are you teaching your children accountability?

3.        White Community: Is Jena the one place in the world where prejudice and bigotry do not exist? Is Jena the Utopia where racism never raises its ugly head? Why continue to insist there are no problems here?

4.        Media: Why don’t you use your considerable resources to check your facts concerning this case? Why not report what needs to be said?

5.        America: Why display such outrage towards Jena until you’ve looked into the shadows of your own streets?

 

 

What Needs To Be Said:

 

àThere has never been an “all white tree” at Jena High School. Although whites traditionally sit under that tree, whites and blacks traditionally sit in other areas as well. Since integration, there has never been forced segregation on the campus.

 

àThere were two nooses, not three.

 

àThe actions of the three white students who hung the nooses demonstrate prejudice and bigotry. However, they were not just given “two days suspension” as reported by national news agencies. After first being expelled, then upon appeal, being allowed to re-enter the school system, they were sent to an alternative school, off-campus, for an extended period of time. They underwent investigations by Federal and Sate authorities. They were given psychological evaluations. Even when they were eventually allowed back on campus they were not allowed to be a part of the general population for weeks.

 

àNo black children demonstrated the days after the noose incident, as reported by CNN--with the possible exception of an uncorroborated report by one of the "Jena Six" who claims that black students gathered under the tree in a form of protest. This event was not witnessed by any school officials. Therefore, Reed Walters did not come to the school to break it up and send the black students back to class, stating that he could “end their life with a stroke of the pen.” In fact, to this day, there has been no demonstration by the black population of Jena, neither at school or anyplace else, except for the family of the Jena Six and protesters from other cities.

 

àThe speech given by Reed Walters that included the now infamous statement “I can end your life with the stroke of a pen” was not given to a group of black students. It was given during a speech to the entire student body in an assembly called by the school's principal to calm a community that was pulling their children out of school because there were two fights one day with racial overtones. Two girls, one white and one black fought. Another student was taken to the emergency room to receive stitches.

 

àJena does have racial problems. Jena does have bigotry and prejudice, just like every other town in America, perhaps even worse than some. If there were no racial problems, there would have been no nooses hung from a tree. There would not be one white student beaten and six black students charged with attempted second-degree murder. The local ministers would not have hurriedly called a meeting to deal with the issue. The cameras of the world would not have focused their lenses on Jena.

 

àThe national news media has not mentioned a single time that there was an FBI investigation into the hanging of the nooses and the conduct of Reed Walters that concluded there was no criminal activity or “hate crime” involved. The report is available to the media, along with court records and sworn testimony, none of which has been reported.

 

àThere was no “fight” on December 4, 2006 at Jena High School, as the national media continues to characterize the event in question. Six students attacked a single student who was immediately knocked unconscious. According to sworn testimony, they stomped him, as he lay “lifeless” upon the ground.

 

àJustin Barker, the white student attacked, was not the first white student targeted by these black students. Allegedly, others had been informed they were going to be beaten, but stayed away from school and out of sight until they felt safe.

 

àCNN reported that there were “obviously no witnesses to the fight.” In fact, over thirty eyewitnesses, students and teachers, were questioned immediately following the attack, all of who implicated one or more of the black students arrested in the case. In fact, some of the accused black students did not stop stomping Barker until they were pulled away from him by some of the teachers, according to testimony given in the trial of Mychal Bell.

 

àThe media continues to make the point that Justin Barker “attended a party” later that evening, insinuating that his injuries were not very severe. The Barkers, by no means a wealthy family, face medical bills already over $12,000 from the emergency room visit. Imagine what an overnight visit would have cost. Justin Barker was advised to remain hospitalized but decided he would not let the event keep him from participating in the once-in-a-lifetime, traditional Ring Ceremony at First Baptist Church in Jena, where class rings are presented to the upcoming senior class.

 

àThe fight on December 4 was unrelated to the noose incident, or any other incident that occurred earlier in Jena that week. The media keeps reporting otherwise. There are three different boys named “Justin” involved in three different events that the media have morphed into the “Justin” who was attacked on December 4:

A.                  A juvenile named Justin, whose name was not released to the media, was one of the boys who hung nooses from the trees in September.

B.                  Three months later, Justin Sloan, not a student at Jena High, fought with one of the black students, Robert Baily, at the fair barn when a couple of black students tried to enter a private party.

C.                  On December 4, six black students at Jena High School attacked Justin Barker, who is neither of the previously mentioned young men.

 

àIt has been reported that the school has two standards of justice since white students who attacked a black student were not treated as the black students who attacked a white student. No group of white students attacked a black student at Jena High School. Fights that have occurred have always been handled equally. This was not a fight. This process was taken out of the hands of school officials when the ambulance was called to bring Justin Barker to the hospital for the attack. Both the appearance of the ambulance and Barker’s visit to the emergency room requires an investigation by law enforcement.

 

àNational news organizations, which continue to call it a “fight,” suggest that there was no reason to involve the District Attorney’s office. If a young female student had been raped in a bathroom on campus, the school officials would do all the investigations required under their policy, but they would also report the crime to law enforcement. Criminals, adults or students, are not allowed to rape or assault students with impunity simply because it happened on a high school campus.

 

àThe “Jena Six” have repeatedly been held up as heroes by much of the race-based community and called “innocent students” by the national media. Some of these students have reputations in Jena for intimidating and sometimes beating other students. It is alledged that they have vandalized and destroyed both school property and community property. Reportedly, some of the Jena Six have been involved in crimes not only in LaSalle Parish but also in surrounding parishes. For the most part, coaches and other adults have prevented them from being held accountable for the reign of terror they have presided over in Jena. Despite intervention by adults wanting to give them chances due their athletic potential, some of the Jena Six have juvenile records. Yet some of the parents keep insisting that their children have never been in trouble before. These boys did not receive prejudicial treatment but received preferential treatment until things got out of hand.

 

àThe entire black community of Jena is not being heard in this controversy, just the parents, relatives, and close friends of the Jena Six. The black community of Jena has not been involved in the protests and demonstrations called by national race-based organizations. Some state and national race crusaders have chastised them for not “rising up” with the parents to force law enforcement to “free the Jena Six.” Many do agree that the charges seem wrong, but they also know the criminal history of the boys referred to as the “Jena Six.” It is their neighborhood these boys have terrorized. Not even all of the parents claim that these boys should be set free with no consequence for their actions. One of the parents was interviewed, saying that the boys should suffer the fair punishment for their actions. He suggested that simple battery would be an acceptable charge. With one exception, the local black pastors do not support the demonstrations. They have been openly criticized for their lack of cooperation with the national race crusaders. One of them counseled the “Jena Six” families to not stir controversy for controversy’s sake. The black pastor was openly condemned by a local radio personality sympathetic to the cause of the black parents. The rhetoric grew so intense that the black pastor was referred to as Reed Walter’s “house Negro” on the local radio talk show. The pastor is consistently accused on this show of working in cooperation with Reed Walters in a plot to undermine the “Jena Six.”

 

Conclusion:

 

To Reed Walters: Charge these young men with the crimes of which they are guilty.

To The Parents: Hold your children accountable for their actions.

To The White Community: Stop claiming, “There is no racism here” or “We have no problems here.” Live by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If twelve percent of our community is feeling estranged, we should listen to their grievances.

To The Black Community: If you believe these six black students are innocent, we can “free the Jena Six” today by having the black students, who thirty witnesses testify attacked Justin Barker, step forward and take responsibility for their actions.

To The National Media: Please, get it right. Report the facts. Let them take you to the truth. Stop making Jena, Louisiana, a national scapegoat for America’s sin of racism.

To America: Judge not unless you be judged. You will be judged by the same measure you judge this little town. Until you know the facts, reserve judgment. Do no believe everything you see on TV.


 


 

A Final Comment:

     This is an evolving story. As more information is released and subsequent events occur, the statements made here may become obsolete. However, this is the perception of many in Jena concerning the topic as of September 10, when this was first posted.




 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

Web Site: Alabaster Publishing


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Reviewed by John Martin
Well written and documented. Sad indeed! There’s a lot of racism in America all right and white people have been the victims since the 1960s. Almost 100% of the black people that voted for Obama said it was because he is black. The major of non blacks who voted for Obama also said they did so because he is black and they wanted to prove that they aren’t racists. Say, I guess that means he the first president elected by a racist majority.
Reviewed by Carol Mitchell
Thanks for enlightening us all to the truth. Please keep up the great work so that we will all be adequately informed.
Reviewed by Jerry Bolton (Reader)
I'm glad Anita found this also . . .
Reviewed by Anita Coulson
Sir, I am so glad I found this. I am a journalist in the UK (not writing about Jena, just reading about it like everyone else) and I found myself wondering about the back story. You have helped fill in the gaps. Life is never as "black and white" as some news reports portray, I know only too well what the pressures are of delivering to a deadline in an understaffed, over busy newsroom. One of the key editorial questions is always "Why should we care about this story?" To make it special, sometimes we have to find the key to what will resonate with the audience - sometimes that strays towards sensationalism (newsrooms call it "sexing up" the story). Yes, any objective analysis of the media coverage has to conclude that it was inaccurate and overblown.
But I empathise greatly with tammika who also posted a response to you. I am the mother of three beautiful mixed heritage children and even here in tolerant, multi-cultural London I see ignorance and intolerance and how that impacts on my much loved children. My eldest son was victimised by a small pack of bullies in his school - it wasn't a race thing but a power trip and it was small stuff but it went on and on until the day I told him: "the next time they push you or cut your school uniform with scissors or flick paint at you, stand up for yourself, draw a line and stay it STOPS here". He was pushed by two kids, threw a single punch that knocked the bigger bully to the ground and they never troubled him again. It was also handled appropriately by the school and parents and no mountain was made of the molehill. When an adolescent boy is labelled "bad" he can all too often choose to be bad as a life option.
I do not for one second condone thuggery - the attackers of Justin Barker need appropriate punishment and rehabilitation. If Mychal Bell and the others have a history of aggression, they need to be taken in hand. They became "poster boys" for all America's racial unfairness only because the DA chose to "throw the book at them" (probably because of their history) and the charges and outcome were patently unfair. Justice should be done and be seen to be done, fairly and impartially for all. I want for Mychal the same as I want for Justin... to grow happy and secure and achieve their full potential and be great citizens for their community.
I hope that you and other people of influence in Jena are doing all you can to come together and reconcile your communities so that Jena can heal from this. Every one of us has the moral obligation to treat our fellow human beings with courtesy and respect... to learn this, sometimes we need to "walk in the other person's shoes". With respect and hope, A.
Reviewed by Keith Trotter (Reader)
The real issue at hand is not weather racism is rampant in Jena. The real issue is has Jena failed it's citizens both white and black? The white residents of Jena truly feel that they don't have a race problem because they have not had to deal with the consequences of being non-white. As a Black Man, I cannot and will not condone the actions of these young men. I think that the town has failed all of it's citizens by not dealing with it's issues internally before allowing them to get so out of hand. The town has had it's agitators before this, but since the majority of the residents cannot see past their own paradigms the minorities grievances have gone unheard and an environment of complacency has been fostered and encouraged which led to the callous and very threatening act of nooses being thrown over tree limbs. Now let's all be real with ourselves, the rampant racism of the south is just barely over 2 generations old and a lot of the old wounds and scars have not been acknowledged or allowed to heal. (Bill Clinton offered an apology some 30 odd years after the civil rights act was passed) The stories are still fresh to us, and our white counterparts want nothing more than to forget it ever happened so that they can get on with their lives. But here we are, the living breathing reminder that this country still has two paths that it walks. The path of the majority peoples and the path of the minority peoples. I will not see it in my lifetime, but I fervently pray that My children will just be Americans, not Black, White, or Other, Just American with all of the rights, freedoms, and expectations that come with that great honor. Keep writing Pastor, keep allowing yourself to be used by the spirit to convict all our hearts to be more like Christ.
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
Pastor,

Thank you for putting the facts straight. The media only reports what they want you to know, THAT'S for true. I concur with Jean, below: why aren't they printing THIS, instead?

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.

I'm praying for y'all. :( God knows we need His mercy...
Reviewed by Jean Strickland
Awesome Bro. Eddie! It is so refreshing to see the facts all spelled out at one time. I wish this would be quoted, in its entirety, by the news media for all the world to see! Thanks for the insight. Jean
Reviewed by I Know Eddie (Reader)
Here is some more of the whole story. Mychal Bell was already on probation before this happened, for a Christmas day battery in 2005. He was on probation until his 18th birthday in January 2008. He was adjudicated - the juvenile equivalent of a conviction - of battery on Sept. 2, 2006 and criminal damage to property on Sept. 3, 2006, and another charge of criminal damage to property that occurred on July 25, 2006 (note -WHILE he was on probation). His history of violent behavior is the reason he is still in jail right now. The people in the court system in LaSalle parish know MUCH more about Mychal Bell than Jesse Jackson does. Speaking of whom....Mr. Jackson was quoted in last week's paper as saying (at their last meeting in Jena) that the court called Mychal Bell's tennis shoe a "weapon of mass destruction". *sigh*

It's pretty funny how people say they do not agree with what the boys did, but then go on to give plenty of excuses for them and even say that they probably would have done the same thing. I've heard this over and over.

There is NO excuse for a group of people jumping an unsuspecting person, knocking him out, and then kicking him while he lies unconscious. Besides that, Justin Barker wasn't even involved in the noose incident! So many people who are so outraged and infuriated don't even have all the facts. Their dots are definitely not connected in the right order about how things transpired from the beginning.

Carwin Jones' father, John Jenkins, said this:

"I just wish we could sit down somewhere, all the families involved, and work this out, get it down to simple battery. It is a blessing that (Barker) wasn't hurt more."

He said the families weren't trying to make excuses for their children (although some are, I believe...especially Bell's, because they want him to be a football star...but even football stars have to obey the law!), that some punishment needs to happen, but not what has been presented. He also said that those responsible (for the beating) should take care of Barker's thousands of dollars in medical bills.

He said, "We're not out here trying to make a fuss or make this a black and white thing." He said if the charges had remained at aggravated battery or were simple battery, "all this wouldn't be here", referring to the media frenzy.

Sounds like a reasonable man.

I believe the attempted murder charges were a mistake, and probably even the aggravated battery. I believe the reason they went overboard is because these kinds of things just do not happen in our schools in this parish, and nobody wants them to start happening. With all the school violence going on in the country, I think everyone is a little jumpy about things like this.

The boys need to be charged with simple battery and tried in their respective courts, juvenile or adult, whichever applies to their situations. But Jackson and his bunch have NO business trying to blackmail the court into dropping all charges (they said, "The way to stop the march is to drop all charges."), especially against Mychal Bell...and I believe a couple of the other boys have already made a round through the parish court system also.

People who are not from here should not be too quick to make judgments or come to any conclusions, because the national media is definitely slanting and sensationalizing this in order to get people to watch their news programs.

As for the white community not wanting Eddie to be their spokesperson...here is one white person who is very content to let Eddie speak on my behalf. I have known Eddie for over 20 years, and while he is not perfect (and I say that only because NONE of us are perfect, not because of any gross imperfections on his part), he is a man of utmost integrity. He has devoted his entire adult life to ministering to others (white AND black) through the various churches he has been involved in. Eddie has the uncanny God-given ability to see straight into the heart of a matter while the rest of us are floundering around in minutiae, and he definitely has a way with words. He is NOT naive....good-hearted, kind, conciliatory, humble, even-tempered, intelligent, fair, honest...but definitely not naive.

Write on, Mr. ET!
Reviewed by tammika dunlap (Reader)
So........I read your article and was, delighted to see that someone cared enough to report accurate information. I am however, a bit taken aback by your naivete'. From the very first day I heard about this issue, I've been concerned that perhaps we (black people) are jumping the gun. Before I go on, let me say that I do not condone the beating these young men bestowed upon the white boy. HOWEVER...I don't believe that these young men were savage animals....as they have been portrayed. Except for in cases of severe mental defect, people don't just jump on other people for no reason. I believe that each side in this incident is playing the innocent card. I really have no sympathy for either side. Here's why: Being raised in Jena, these boys should have already known that the deck was stacked against them. You cannot assault people and not be punished. AND, if Jena is as racist as the media would have you believe, they should have known they would be treated unfairly from the start. That's like me...knowing how corrupt the police dept. and justice system is.....assaulting a police officer. Whether he incites my attack or not....he is still the police....it's a fight I just won't win. No this boy wasn't the police...but the analogy fits. He may as well have been. You say it wasn't three nooses, but two.....what the heck? Are you serious? Do you really think that us blacks were upset by the number of nooses. Come on now......give us more credit than that. ONE NOOSE was one, two darn many. I can't even express how angry I am by that action......yet, I am angered more by your insinuation that the story is being blown out of proportion. I am further infuriated by your attempts to justify Justin's attendance at a party merely hours after he was so "savagely beaten." Who cares how poor his family is? If he needed medical treatment, the hospital would not have denied him services based on his lack of finances. Services ae billed for after they are rendered. For the record, we ( black people) do not consider the Jena 6 to be heroes. They are simply the poster boys for injustice. We are passionate about this issue Pastor because it highlights what so many of our fathers, sons, boyfriends, husbands, uncles, cousins, and friends endure on a daily basis in this country. Our criminal justice system is a sinister joke. Yes, there ought to be consequences for these boys' actions.......HOWEVER, half of their lives in jail is far too great. I pray for justice for these young men. Mychal Bell didn't get it in any way ........from the all white jury of his peers....to the adult charges when he was clearly a minor. How could the Public Defender not call one witness while presenting his case. All of Jena may not be racist sir.....But it sure seems like all the influential folk are. I hope that our presence in Jena on the 20th serves to break down some of these barriers. You don't have to agree with what we feel, nor do you have to understand it.........but what we do demand, is that you respect our position. I have to be honest with you........had some of those incidents taken place here in St. Louis, I'd be in jail myself.
Reviewed by Marilyn Rice
Eddie,
Thank you for telling us the whole story and not just part of it as the news media have done. I've read all of your articles on the subject and listened to the radio interview that you gave the other day. I found it online. You did a great job. I'm very proud of you, my friend. You are in our prayers as you try to be a beacon of light during such a difficult time for your home town.
In his love,
Sissy
Reviewed by Aubrey Hammack
Eddie,
This is a good article. Yes we do have racism in this country and it exists with blacks as much as all others. It seems really crazy to me that the media always seems to ignore that.
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