Sunday, December 16, 2007

Jena One Plus Five -- And So It Goes

I heard it from another blogger on the telephone a couple of nights ago. Word is that Mychal Bell beat up his girlfriend, resulting in the prior charges he had on his record. Even if this is true, I commented that it's typical of the racist criminal "justice" system in this country that a Black man beating up a Black woman wouldn't be treated as strongly as it probably should be. For the longest time, a European-American woman who crossed the color line and was beaten up by her boyfriend was as good as told that that's what she got. And in his best-selling memoir, Makes Me Wanna Holler, Nathan McCall points out the graphic sentencing differences between how Black-on-Black crime (even murder) was dealt with as compared to, say, Black-on-White crimes.

But for those who've been around the just-us system for a while, one of the slickest tricks commonly used (besides the plea bargain, which has turned into an art form) is the practice -- particularly against juveniles -- of "saving" charges for later. In other words, it's as if the prosecutors say, "We don't really care about this situation right now because, you know, this is just the way they are, so we'll just put this one up here on the shelf in case we need it for leverage later." Leverage. Such as in the case of the Jena Six, which may after all have really only been the Jena Five in the first place since there's reason to believe that one of the young men charged didn't even arrive on the scene until the deed was already done.

So the prosecution:
  • slam dunks Mychal Bell,

  • turns him from a victim into a weapon against not only himself, but against his team mates,

  • destroys six young lives while protecting the White racist instigator who most certainly was supportive of the noose-hangers, if not a noose-hanger himself,

  • circumvents and then neutralizes community support for the Jena Six,

  • and teaches those who don't know better that The Man always has the power, just as he threatened the Jena Six from the beginning.
Carmen D. at All About Race tipped me to all of this. Check it out. And tuck this away for future reference: Carmen's right. We dropped the ball, high-fivin' each other for the march when we needed to be vigilent. This bob-and-weave strategy has been around longer than Br'er Rabbit. Better recognize. And don't be too quick to villainize Bell. If what he did wasn't worth locking him up over when it first came up, why is it worth locking him up over now? Given just the right circumstances, it could be any of us. Even the ones that look like me. If you don't think so, hide and watch what happens now that the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 has passed. The key word in that title is "Prevention" and just how do you suppose the Powers-That-Be intend to accomplish that...hmmm?

9 comments:

dsf said...

Don't be surprised if none of this is even about the beating of Barker, but about getting someone to snitch about burning down the school.

Oh, forgot about the arson, did we? I will bet you that Reed Walters hasn't.

Changeseeker said...

Now, that's what I'm talkin' about! Good thinking, dsf. And arson, of course, would bring down some serious time for somebody...

Carmen D. said...

"...If you don't think so, hide and watch what happens now that the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 has passed. The key word in that title is "Prevention" and just how do you suppose the Powers-That-Be intend to accomplish that..."

That is a very smart association. You have given me great food for thought and I will be writing more about the Terrorism Prevention act soon.

Dark Daughta said...

If you are a sci fi head like me, you'll know that there are precursors to the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevent Act. I figure as soon as a machine trained to work within the system like Hollywood shows up with a movie talking about "Pre-crime" it won't be long before we move from being introduced to the concept of valiant law enforcers stopping people before they engage in a criminal activity, to actually being in an age where the government feels it can tell who will be a terrorist by the ideas they espouse. Sweet.

Changeseeker said...

I'm not a sci-fi buff, dd, but I've certainly read Orwell's 1984 (gulp). And I've been watching what's been developing since the 1960's, waiting for the other shoe to fall. A friend said the other night, "You can stop waiting. It's already fallen." And I felt some weird form of relief...

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

I've always thought it was too early for any high fives in the Jena Six case, if only because the case needs to stand long and hard, remembered for the principle that justice must not be unequal based on skin color, and that's something Blacks are willing to fight about.

Changeseeker said...

I've recently been getting new information on the Jena case from a very inside source. There is MUCH that needs to be told and a number of folks who would be made VERY uncomfortable by the telling. Sigh.

Dark Daughta said...

Discomfort is such a marvelously powerful teacher. When we listen to our discomfort rather than avoid it, we learn things about ourselves that were previously hidden away even from our own view. I'd dare say, this also applies to our movements for change, as well. The benefits we can possibly reap by being brave and open, setting crucial examples of what it means to function against the grain...the benefits far outweigh the cost.

Changeseeker said...

You're SO right, Daughta, but in our kill-the-pain-with-a-quick-fix capitalist culture where escapism is rewarded with "two-for-one's" and "ladies in free until 11:00's," we're taught that discomfort is unnecessary and even -- dare I say it? -- stupid. Hopefully, enough folks are beginning to wake up that we'll reach a tipping point before it's too late.