Jena 6 revisited.

Remember the Jena 6 situation of 07? Well it hasn’t gotten much better, just off the radar of the mainstream media. But that is why we blog. Jesse Ray Beard, the youngest of the Jena 6, is fighting to have the notorious Judge J.P. Mauffray and District Attorney Reed Walters removed from his case. I am going to reprint the press release here and you can read more about it here, here and here. It is clear that this situation is really fucked up and a very real example of how racism is still very vibrant, both in nuanced ways and in institutional-oh that’s so 40 years ago-ways. Will keep you posted on any developments.

Youngest of Jena 6 Fights to Oust Judge and DA:
Lawyers File Motion to Recuse Judge and DA—Putting State on Trial—Claiming Clear Pattern of Race Bias
JENA, LA— Lawyers for the youngest of the Jena 6, Jesse Ray Beard, filed a motion today to remove Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. and District Attorney Reed Walters from any future involvement in juvenile court matters involving Beard. Mauffray and Walters served as the trial judge and prosecutor, respectively, in the Jena 6 cases and Beard’s attorneys argue that their prejudice during and after the proceedings has betrayed an unfair bias against Beard.
Millions of Americans remember District Attorney Reed Walters as the man who refused to prosecute white students who hung nooses at Jena High School and then threatened black students at a school assembly saying that he “could end their lives with a stroke of his pen.” Walters charged Jesse Ray Beard, and five other African-American students with attempted second-degree murder for allegedly beating Justin Barker, a white student, in a schoolyard fight following the incident. Attorneys for Beard argue that this and other facts paint a clear picture of the District Attorney’s bias.
“Millions of people turned their attention to the Jena 6 last year, but at the end of the day the system itself has to go on trial,” said James Rucker, Executive Director of, the 400,000-member group that advocated on behalf of the Jena 6. “Reed Walters and Judge Mauffray have behaved outrageously at every turn and violated the most basic principles of justice. There can be no justice in Jena with these men as its agents.”
Because Beard is a juvenile, Louisiana law prohibits him from having a jury trial. Judge Mauffray will be the sole determiner of fact, which adds additional weight to the concerns of defense attorneys who argued in a motion filed today that Mauffray is too prejudiced to preside over the case. Attorneys for Beard ask Mauffray to do the right thing and voluntarily step down from the case, and if he does not, seek a public hearing to present their case in support of their motion.
More than 20,000 people marched on Jena, LA last year to protest the treatment of the six black young men now known as the “Jena 6.” The 6 teens were being tried for attempted murder after a fight on school grounds where Barker was beaten, which followed the hanging of nooses in the school’s courtyard and subsequent race-based conflicts. Jesse Ray Beard, the youngest of the Jena 6, demands a fair trial, where he can test the allegations made by DA Walters. Walters is the same D.A. who secured a conviction before an all-white jury of Mychal Bell, 16 at the time of the incident, after illegally transferring him to adult court. In December, Bell plead guilty to punching Barker after Barker and his friends taunted Bell with racial epithets.
“When a judge shows strong bias and a district attorney has a clear conflict of interest, a motion to recuse is not only fitting, it is required,” said Charles Ogletree, professor and executive director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School. “Given the sad history of the case and the allegations in the motions, the DA and judge should avoid the appearance of bias and voluntarily step aside to provide Jesse Ray Beard and the rest of the Jena 6 a fair trial.”

Join the Conversation

  • Scilian

    Yerp… Racism sucks.
    If you really want to see what animals people have become as of late,
    But yeah, Samhita, your constant coverage of these scumbag animals is sickening – they are felons, and should never see the light of day again. Why you try to paint them as wronged in some way baffles me.
    Let me repeat – these little animals deserve anything that comes to them, likewise with any violent criminals – fuck them. I am tired of dealing with their shit, I am tired of dealing with these punk asses around my kids, my home, shopping centers, etc.
    Quite frankly, it would be a pleasure to see them all locked up for the next 20 years, where they belong.

  • deleahrium

    @Scilian: Hey asshole, take your spiteful privilege somewhere else.
    Haven’t y’all figured out that the loyal readers of this site won’t stand for pompous fucks coming in and telling us how it “really is,” “enlightening” us with totally unspecified “science” or assumed stereotypes quoted as if they’re widely accepted statistics?
    You’re the one who needs a lesson in race relations. You’re the one who needs to take a damned good look at who the “animals” really are. Or just don’t come here. It’s that simple. The viewpoints and politics are clear and if you disagree, go elsewhere. You’ll find none sympathetic to your hateful cause here.
    @Samhita: I’m glad to see an update on the Jena 6. I was wondering what happened after their story was brought to attention last summer. I think it would be ridiculous for the judge/DA to not step down from the case, and if they didn’t, that would solidify for me their bias (although maybe that’s a little of my own bias talking)

  • hungerheadache

    I was wondering what was going on with this as well.
    Thanks for the update.

  • TheSoyMilkConspiracy

    That article Scilian linked to is from a fucking Focus on the Family webzine:
    Douchery knows no bounds, apparently. Why hate just women when you can hate people of color, too?

  • noname

    Does anyone have a link to the actual motion? I am all for the D.A. and judge being taken off the case if the motion offers compelling evidence of their bias, but have found that court documents tend to be more reliable than media reports in evaluating situations such as this.

  • atheistwoman

    Millions of Americans remember District Attorney Reed Walters as the man who refused to prosecute white students who hung nooses at Jena High School and then threatened black students at a school assembly saying that he “could end their lives with a stroke of his pen.”
    Let’s hope that asshat is taken off the case.
    Thanks for posting about this Samhita, it’s frustrating when the media drops such an important story.

  • Malaika924

    Way to dehumanize a whole race of people by calling us “animals”! [/sarcasm]
    Racist dumbfuck…

  • atheistwoman

    Indeed, I forgot to add,
    Scillian STFUP. You might want to try therapy for that.

  • Samhita

    Sorry folks I should have caught that comment earlier. But what’s up feministers that fight back! Holla!

  • quebeaum

    The motion would have been filed in Lasalle Parish, and while it would be public record, the parish does not apear to have much in the way of online access.

  • noname

    quebeaum – Thanks for taking a look. I would feel better judging the situation if I had access to the actual motion, but if they aren’t posted, they aren’t posted.

  • Medical Student29

    I dont understand why everybody cant see that the Jena 6 were treated unfairly by law enforcement, while on the other hand, several of the m are absolutely violent criminals with long rap sheets.
    Just because they were treated unfairly by the prosecutors doesnt mean they were innocent. From the evidence I’ve seen, they are absolutely guilty of the crime and need to be punished for it.
    It has nothing to do iwth them being black and everything to do with their parents doing a shitty job raising them. Several of the Jena 6 have a long history of arrests for various crimes from theft to robbery to assault.

  • ladylinguist

    “Just because they were treated unfairly by the prosecutors doesnt mean they were innocent. From the evidence I’ve seen, they are absolutely guilty of the crime and need to be punished for it.”
    Guilty or not isn’t the issue here. They are fighting to get an obviously racist judge and D.A. off of their case. Whether or not they committed the crime they’ve been indicted with, don’t you think they deserve a fair trial where they’ll be judged against the facts, and not against their skin color?
    It’s not our job to decide whether or not they’re guilty, nor is it our job to decide how they ought to be sentenced, if at all. It is our civic duty, however, to note racism in the system where it exists and fight like hell to eradicate it.

  • puckalish

    You gotta leave Scilian’s comment up there, if just to show the people that folks still exist who believe people of color are “animals” and that angry, frightened juveniles who don’t understand the repercussions of their actions “should never see the light of day again.”
    Oh, yeah, and let’s be clear, here… I don’t think anyone’s arguing that a six-on-one beat-down should go unpunished… just that charging that tennis shoes are a “deadly weapon” suggests a miscarriage of justice and that a clima
    Also, it’s telling that Scilian’s using a story written 8 years ago about some asshole college-aged men (geez, there aren’t any white versions of that) as examples of how “animalistic” the “black race” is. I mean, really. Because “Spring Break” isn’t associated with rape, drunkenness and general dumb-assedness across color lines, right?

    several of the m[sic] are absolutely violent criminals with long rap sheets.

    Anyways, regarding long rap sheets… Among other things, I thought all these kids were minors, so how is it that we all know their criminal histories? Further, I looked into it as best I could (going so far as reading some white nationalist websites and such) and came up with a grand total of 4 convictions for Mychal Bell (at least two of which were for the same incident and two of which were for property damage)… and nothing for the other 5 defendants, but, sure… call them gang members or whatever other trifling crap you read on Stormfront this week.
    Wasn’t this all hashed and rehashed a year ago? Why are the same overblown, fact-deficient talking points showing their bald little heads again?
    peace and blessings

  • kirjava

    Samhita — Thanks so much for continuing to update on this. I know I shouldn’t be surprised at the depths of human ignorance and hatred, institutionalized and otherwise anymore, but the fact that the proceedings of this case have gotten as far as they have confound and sickens me, as do comments and opinions informed by blind, ignorant hatred… It really shouldn’t be surprising, but it hurts every time. Again, thanks for continuing to post about this.