Paine College students head to Jena rally

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 First at Five, September 18, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---More and more cities across the nation are turning their eyes toward the Jena 6 including people right here in Augusta. Paine College administrators are preparing for a field trip to Louisiana. But this is no regular school trip. "This is really about youth activism," said Sean Palmer, director of student activities.

A team of twenty students will join fifty thousand people headed to Jena, Louisiana. "Not only just going, but also participating in some events that shape them, shape their world view here, helps them be a better more contributing person when they leave this environment," Palmer said.

Jena, Louisiana is a mostly white town at the center of what some call a racial firestorm that was ignited when a black student sat under a tree where whites traditionally gathered. A day later, three nooses were found hanging from the tree. It was written off as a practical joke.

That decision spurred racial fights at the school that ended in an attack on a young white teen, and left six black teens charged with assault, facing years in prison. Elias Etinge, dean of student affairs says, "The legal system is funny, somebody can get seven years for murder and here young children are being threatened for 15 years for fighting."

James Reid is chief of campus police at Paine. He will accompany the students. "If we fail to address the issue in Jena effectively and collectively as one body to speak out against the injustices, eventually, it will come visit you at your front door," Reid said. "The Bible teaches to let justice rain down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream. We're going in the spirit of Christ to do that which is just for those who have been treated unjustly."

Etinge says there is at least one lesson to be learned. "If it can happen over in Louisiana, guess what, it can happen here in Augusta."

Gloria Williams-Way, NAACP campus adviser, says of the case, "It's racist because the penalty simply does not fit the crime."

"The students from Paine College are headed to Louisiana because they feel that if justice is threatened for anyone, anywhere, then justice is really threatened for all people everywhere," she continued.

Palmer says, "It would be a disservice not to be involved in something as monumental as the treatment of six young men who are definitely feeling the blows of prejudice."

Reverend Larry Fryer calls this a pivotal time in our nation's history. "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, and when something like this occurs it upsets the founding fathers' mission and dream in our Constitution."

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  • by augustan on Sep 19, 2007 at 03:20 PM
    Mark in Lincolnton makes a great point - channel 12 should stay with reporting the news. To start promoting the trip with time, place, cost etc is crossing the line. And when former anchor (Dominque Benn) would sometimes refer to Champ Walker during a newscast as simply "Champ" it does raise doubts about impartiality.
  • by Anonymous Location: augusta on Sep 19, 2007 at 01:09 PM
    Everyone is crying racism, everytime blacks and whites get into a fight, blacks are always mistreated, well did anyone stop to think about the whole rodney king situation? When that happened, blacks were singing a different tune. Everyone wanted the police put in jail forever. Now that the tables are turned, they want us to slap their hand and say "Play nice now!!"
  • by News on Sep 19, 2007 at 12:27 PM
    From CBS:

    Racial animosity flared in the mostly white town of Jena about a year ago, when a black student sat under a tree that was a traditional gathering place for whites on the campus of Jena High School. A day later, three nooses were found hanging from the tree, evoking for some the image of lynchings in the old South. Racial fights and confrontations culminated in the December attack on white student Justin Barker.

    Five black students at the school were originally charged as adults with attempted second-degree murder, bringing widespread criticism that blacks were being treated more harshly than whites. The case drew international attention, and the charges have been reduced against all but one of the teens. A sixth student was charged in the alleged assault as a juvenile.

  • by Concerned Citizen Location: Augusta on Sep 19, 2007 at 12:09 PM
    This is not the complete story. Please go to other news outlets for the whole tale. A black student was beaten first by white students to teach "the rest of y'all a listen" about sitting under the tree. No charges were bought against the white students. There are several more incidents that happened before the black students jumped the ring leader. I do not believe in fighting myself. However, the black students were charged with attempted murder and tried as adults for a school fight. The maximum penalty being 22 years in jail. Bond was set at $170,000. The student being sentenced tomorrow has been in jail since last year. This is where the injustice comes in. Please do the research before saying that this is just black people blowing things out of proportion. I feel that the punishment did not fit the crime. Please do your own independent research before passing judgment. Thank you.
  • by me Location: here on Sep 19, 2007 at 09:15 AM
    I think it all ought to boil down to the statement, "Can't we all just get along?" Evidently 6 people can beat up one person and it becomes a racial statement. Who should be blamed? Who should be on trial? How about live and let live? Or rather Just DO RIGHT.
  • by anonymous Location: north augusta on Sep 19, 2007 at 09:12 AM
    how come everytime something happens between blacks and whites and blacks get in trouble, it always turns into a racial issue. Drop it slavery ended long ago
  • by David Location: Augusta on Sep 19, 2007 at 07:48 AM
    I would like to know what your viewers feel would be appropriate justice for the kid who was beaten up by six other kids. Please tell me...I'd truly like to know what just reaction is called for in this situation.
  • by Carl Location: Barnwell on Sep 19, 2007 at 06:55 AM
    The Jena Trial should open our eyes to our own school,police and local government officials. Are the rules,laws and punishments being administered equally across the board? We forget that there were several things that happened and were reported but got swept under the rug.
  • by Mark Location: Lincolnton on Sep 19, 2007 at 05:52 AM
    I don t think 12 news should be a part of insighting a riot in Jena Louisiana. Reporting news is one thing, but telling people where they can catch the bus to be a part of this is going to far.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 19, 2007 at 03:54 AM
    To Debra what in your comments got to do with the problem that's going on. Tim Strong does not want you. This issue is dealing with 6 black boys whos life might be messed up for the rest of there lives. Stay on the issue and if your not going to help the problem shUUUUUUU!!!!!
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