Stand up for justice

The authors are Sacramento residents concerned with civil rights

I recently read an article about a racial incident in Jena, La. The article did not appear in the Sacramento newspapers. It was not next to the Britney Spears meltdown story or the Lindsay Lohan rehab story. There was no commentary from pundits such as Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage regarding this news story or its relationship to race, education and justice.

The story of the Jena Six all began last fall, the day after two black high-school students in Jena sat beneath what was known on campus as “the white tree.” Nooses were hung from the tree the day after the black students sat there. The school’s superintendent dismissed the act as a “prank” and the three white students responsible received a three-day suspension.

More black students sat under the tree to protest the light punishment for a racist threat.

The district attorney and the local police came out to the school and demanded that the students end their protest. News reports quoted the DA as saying, “I can be your friend or your worst enemy. I can take away your lives with a stroke of a pen.”

There was more racism and violence in Jena. The climatic final incident involved black students beating up a white student who’d provoked them by calling them “niggers.”

The six black students involved, now known as the “Jena Six,” were charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. None of them were older than 17. If convicted, these students could face up to 22 years in jail.

We all should be asking why we have not heard of the Jena Six until now. I call on all Sacramento citizens to demand that our media provide more coverage about the Jena Six. It is unacceptable that fellow Americans are treated this way in 2007. It is reprehensible that our media have chosen to ignore the plight of the Jena Six.

It is not too late to do something about this outrageous incident. Contributions for the defense of these students may be sent to: The Jena 6 Defense Committee, PO Box 2798; Jena, LA 71342. Visit the defense committee’s Web site ( for updates and more information.