September 26, 2007

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Reed: The only way and let me stress that, the only way that I believe that me, or this community has been able to endure the trauma that has been thrust upon us is through the prayers of the Christian people who have sent them up in this community. (loud applause) I firmly believe and am confident of the fact that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened. You can quote me on that!

There was a "press conference" today with the Jena 6 prosecutor DA Reed Walters. Or there was supposed to be a press conference but instead Walters played host for a gathering which sounded more like a revivalist tent meeting. ,While reporters noted they had never before been allowed to bring cameras into the courtroom, Walters had quite a show set up complete with about 60 local residents - described as "white supporters of the DA" on CNN who broke into applause when he appeared. I guess they had loved his performance back in 2006 when Black students protested the hanging of nooses in the "white tree." Then Walters arrived at the school with a group of police and warned the peaceful student protest that “I could end your lives with the stroke of a pen.” This is the same Walters who consistently claimed "This case is not and never has been about race" and who "credits the 'imaginations' of African-Americans for the heightened racial tensions around the case." Today, his words were less overtly threatening but the racist message was just as clear.

Walters talked a whole lot about Jesus - and not much about justice. He did make a special note that it was only through the "direct intervention of Jesus!" that last week's demonstrations were peaceful - a pretty outrageous claim when the demonstration was a peaceful and amazing gathering and participants even picked up the trash before heading out of town.

Walters wasn't much on answering press questions but he was asked - once again - why the white students who hung nooses in the "white tree" after black students asked the school's vice principal if they could sit under the tree too (they were told yes) but Walters shrugged this off saying there was no crimes involved that he could charge.

He was not asked why he did not charge the white area residents who beat up a black student at a party the weekend before the final incident nor why he charged a black student for an altercation outside a convenience store that weekend - but not the white resident (involved in the party attack the night before) who pulled a gun on the black student.

CNN actually did a pretty solid job of covering this so-called press conference today - the anchors were clearly more than a little startled by the tone and content. And they featured an interview with Pastor Shipley, a local minister who had tried to question Walters' claims. As he noted the DA was polarizing the situation once again, pitting "his jesus against ours" rather than seeking unity.

It's interesting to note that that bastion of liberal media (yeah sure) seems to see Walters as a worthy fellow. As Alan Bean wrote in "After ignoring Jena, NYTimes gives Reed Walters a pulpit."

The New York Times didn’t cover the Jena story until they were faced with a protest so big that they had to put it on the front page. But now, apparently they can find the space for this disingenuous screed from Reed Walters, the D.A. responsible for the Jena debacle.

Reed Walters complains that hanging nooses is no excuse to jump a white boy. But he conveniently leaves out his own shameful role in fanning the flames of racial unrest in Jena. He neglects to tell America how he also refused to protect Jena’s black youth from a series of attacks by white youth, in the days leading up to the attack on Justin Barker. He neglects to mention how a black youth was assaulted by a gang of white youth at a party, and how another white high school graduate threatened black youth with a shotgun outside a convenience store. This is the critical information we need to understand the attack on Justin Barker–it was the mirror image of a similar attack by white youth on a single, defenseless black youth that weekend. Except Reed Walters didn’t punish all the participants in that attack. Apparently some young people are worth more than others.

Update: Mervyn from Color of Change has just emailed that Myhal Bell is finally being released on bail. Keep an eye on Color of Change for more news and ways to support the Jena 6 campaign.

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