The Full Story of the Jena 6: A couple of weeks ago I watched as 20,000 protesters marched the streets of Jena to protest the arrest of Mychal Bell (a black student) who was charged with beating a white student. The outrage was that the theory is that the white student was part of a group of kids who had hung a noose at a popular tree that the whites had been sitting under until some of the blacks decided that they wanted to sit there too. Obviously a situation of race tensions being escalated.
The white kids should never have been allowed to have had a place to congregate that was “whites only”.
The black kids probably should not have provoked them by taking over the tree.
The white kids should not have hung the nooses.
The black kids, the Jena 6, shouldn't have beat up the white student they suspected of hanging the nooses.
But there were a couple of good adult decisions that were made in all of this. First, the school administrators cut down the tree. The symbol of white segregation was removed. Second, Mychal Bell was kept in jail despite the protests. At the time it appeared that the judicial system was singling out young Mychal Bell, and that did seem extreme. School fights happen all the time and although the white kids took a pretty bad beating, he was able to go to a party that night. But, after a goodly stint the rowdy Mychal Bell was released. Yesterday he was re-arrested. The charge was that the arrest had violated two previous arrests where probation was given so long as he didn't reoffend. He did and now will spend possibly 18 months in juvenile detention. Is this fair? Absolutely. The judge essentially said, “You have been found guilty of a crime and you deserve to go to detention for the next year and a half. But, if you keep yourself out of jail we will give you a second chance.” He didn't and will now pay for those crimes.
The problem is that the 20,000 people protesting didn't know about the former arrest record, nor should they. A juvenile arrest record is sealed by the court for the protection of the child. While a kid who has already been arrested 3 times is hardly a child, he still should be protected.
This just reminds me that sometimes there are two sides to a story and sometimes we are not privy to all of the facts, and we shouldn't be. The government doesn't tell us everything for the protection of those involved.
This wasn't started as a black and white issue, but in the end it was simply a matter of justice. A kid caught a break and blew it. He has 540 more days to think about that.