Jena 6 DA yields to pressure from Governor



 Hat Tip: Doug Simpson, Associated Press

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday that the prosecutor in one of the so-called “Jena 6” cases has decided not to challenge an appellate ruling that sends the case to juvenile court.

LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters had earlier said he would appeal the state appeals court’s decision that 17-year-old Mychal Bell’s second-degree battery conviction be set aside. The court ruled that Bell could not be tried as an adult.

Blanco said she had spoken with Walters and asked him to reconsider pushing to keep the case in the adult courts system. She said Walters contacted her Wednesday to say he had decided not to appeal the ruling.

“I want to thank him for this decision he has made,” Blanco said.

Bell, who remains behind bars, was one of six Jena High School teens arrested after a December attack on a white student, Justin Barker. Five of the six teens initially were charged with attempted second-degree murder, though charges for four of them, including Bell, were later reduced. One teen hasn’t been arraigned, and the case of the sixth, handled as a juvenile, is sealed.

Blanco made her announcement at a news conference with activists Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Sharpton said he hopes a bond will be set low enough to allow for Bell’s release, and he thanked Blanco for getting involved in the matter.

“I want to congratulate her for showing leadership,” Sharpton said. “And I want to congratulate the district attorney for good judgment.”

Blanco said Walters gave her permission to announce his decision, and that he planned to discuss his decision publicly on Thursday. A phone call placed at Walters’ home went unanswered Wednesday.

The case brought more than 20,000 protesters to the central Louisiana town of Jena last week in a marched that harkened back to the demonstrations of the 1950s and ’60s.

Critics accuse local officials of prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites. They note that no charges were filed against three white teens suspended from the high school for allegedly hanging nooses in a tree on campus — an incident that was followed by fights between blacks and whites, including the attack on Barker.

Walters has condemned the noose incident — calling it “abhorrent and stupid” in a New York Times op-ed piece Thursday — but said the act broke no Louisiana law.

In the article, Walters defended the aggravated second-degree battery counts most of those charged in the attack on Barker now face. He said Barker was “blindsided,” knocked unconscious and kicked by at least six people, and would have faced “severe injury or death” had another student not intervened.

10 thoughts on “Jena 6 DA yields to pressure from Governor

  1. So, she bowed under pressure. Despite Mychal’s alleged “record”, he shouldn’t have been charged at all.

    As Governor, Blanco could have put an end to all of this mess. Just like Katrina, she dropped the ball, here, too.

    Not Impressed. Black people had to peacefully bum-rush the town and force national attention on her ass before she did anything.

    No wonder she’s not running for re-election. Jindal nails her in a landslide, cause he’d use shyt like this against her.

    I’m only glad for Mychal Bell – but he should be free, and it never should have gotten to this point in the first place.

  2. TPJ,

    I agree with you about Blanco.

    OT: Read your article about the Report card. Interesting stuff.

    Did you mail the Lawn Jockeys to the appropriate people?

    What’s up with the Sister that didn’t bother to vote? Not a good beginning to her public service in Congress.

  3. Simon

    This just came out in todays papers – Sean Bell’s cohorts are being paid by Sharpton to not work!

    The Gov caved in but the real facts are already out – embezelled money from the victims fund – probation violations and the attack occurred months after the “igniting noose incident.”

    Another victory for our criminal justice system.

  4. Rikyrah:

    Better check with Bruce Dixon as to how those Lawn Jockey Awards are going to get delivered, LOL. It’s not going to be pretty.

    As for Yvette Clarke’s performance, her office already called me to explain girlfriend’s absence from the floor when it came time to vote. She said she was sick or on medical leave.

    I responded with how Juanita Millender-McDonald was going on the floor to vote, not missing any votes, and the woman was receiving Chemo treatments until the presser came out that she was going on medical leave. In other words, if Millender-McDonald could do her job while receiving Chemo treatments (and you usually need two-three days to recover) and she went to the Hill to vote, what was up with Yvette Clarke?

    ***crickets chirping*** I’m still waiting to hear back from her office.

  5. Denise


    Just curious, has BET or TV-One reached out to you guys about last night’s event?

    It would be refreshing to see The BAR and CBC Monitor host a weekly cable-TV discussion on CBC performance and other issues that impact our community.

    It’s time for BLACK PEOPLE to elevate the discussion. Our community gets more than its share of ‘fluff and fold’ journalism.

  6. Denise:

    BET and TV-One run from Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon like the plague. They have been called out in high fashion by these two brothers, on their dereliction in providing quality media coverage, especially to black audiences.

    I sat in a State of the Black Union forum this year and heard Cathy Hughes say with her own mouth that she’s about getting paid through advertising, and that’s TV-One’s bottom line. As a member of the media with a press pass, you should have heard her in the press conference when sistas from the Richmond Times confronted her as to why TV-One wasn’t carrying live coverage of the Smiley event that she was participating in?

    ***crickets chirping*** was all you heard. I was there and I had to pinch myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming that shyt.

    OTOH, Chris Owens (son of retired Rep. Major Owens) hosts a local show here in DC called “Inside the Congressional Black Caucus”, and he’s had me on as a guest panelist, so we take whatever we can to promo our work. We don’t expect BET or TV-One to come to us, because then they’d have to explain why they ran off Tavis Smiley, Ed Gordon and Jaquie Reed – not to mention why they don’t feature news coverage or promotions of events like the Lawn Jockey Awards…questions I don’t think they want to answer.

    Especially since they promote crap like “Hot Ghetto Mess” as one of their “premier” shows…ugh.

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