So Gov. Kathleen Blanco finally spoke out for real and put pressure on the D.A. Reed Walters to do the right thing concerning Jena High School student Mychal Bell and try him as a juvenile…And, apparently it worked.
Is it time to celebrate?
No, not even close. Last week’s march in Jena was just the beginning.
One of the things that’s annoys me most is when people attack the character of these teenagers and their families or bring up their past.
“It’s not like they’re innocent. They beat up someone.”
“Well, you know Mychal Bell had a record with the juvenile system.”
“Well, you know they were trouble already.”
I haven't heard anyone say these kids were saints. Nobody’s even said what they did was right. That’s not what last week’s march was about and that’s not what is on the table for discussion.
The point is that this kid was not given fair punishment for his wrongdoing and the case of the "Jena 6" reflects a historical pattern of racism that continues in many other judicial systems across the country.
Bell’s wrongful punishment has finally been made somewhat right about a year too late, but what about all the other Mychal Bells out there who receive unfair, inequitable punishment compared to their white counterparts? What about the four other “Jena 6” teens? Have we already forgotten about Shaquanda Cotton from earlier this year? How many other teenage boys and girls are sitting in adult jails for juvenile crimes while their white counterparts go free or get juvenile detention or even probation for the same thing?
It’s all about being fair and just, across the board, regardless of race. I hope that we as citizens begin to take a closer look at issues like this in our community. As one protester shouted out last Thursday: It’s time to wake up…and STAY awake!