Mychal Bell released on bail, adult charges dropped

mychal_bell-out-of-jail.jpg

JENA, La. (AP) — A black teenager whose prosecution in the beating of a white classmate prompted a massive civil rights protest here walked out of a courthouse Thursday after a judge ordered him freed.

Mychal Bell’s release came hours after a prosecutor confirmed he will no longer seek an adult trial for the 17-year-old. Bell, one of the teenagers known as the Jena Six, still faces trial as a juvenile in the December beating.

District Attorney Reed Walters’ decision to abandon adult charges means that Bell, who had faced a maximum of 15 years in prison on his aggravated second-degree battery conviction last month, instead could be held only until he turns 21 if he is found guilty in juvenile court.

The conviction in adult court was thrown out this month by the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, which said Bell should not have been tried as an adult on that particular charge.

Walters credited the prayers of people in this small central Louisiana town with averting a “disaster” when tens of thousands of demonstrators descended on the town. Some critics of Walters considered that a slap against the peaceful marchers.

Mychal Bell is out of jail

More to come. Stay tuned!

Mychal Bell’s bond set at $45,000, could be out today

According to the local press, Jude J.P. Mauffray, the same judge who denied bond for Bell on last Friday, set the bond at $45,000.

Bond was set at $30,000 on the aggravated battery charge, which Bell faces in juvenile court and $15,ooo on the conspiracy to commit aggravated battery charge.

As soon as I get more, I’ll post more.

LaSalle DA won’t appeal 3rd Circuit ruling to send Mychal Bell’s case to juvenile court

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — 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.

Sharpton, King III to meet with Louisiana governor today

Sharpton and King III at Sept. 20 rally

 

 

Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco plans to meet with the Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King, III regarding the Jena Six, working to ensure the security of the families who have been threatened. This continues ongoing meetings and discussions between the three over the past few months regarding this issue that has gained national attention, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

A press conference will follow the meeting. To view the press conference live via the Internet, visit www.gov.state.la.us and click on the “View Live” icon. The icon will appear once the press conference is underway.

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I’ll post as soon as I can following the news conference so come back to The Light.

The many twists and turns of the Jena Six saga

It’s been a couple of days since I updated my blog, but frankly speaking I didn’t know where to begin. There’s been so many twists and turns, ups and downs that I hardly know where to begin. As you read this post, you may think that I’m rambling. I’m not. I’m just trying to get in all in.

Since the Sept. 20 march, where many estimated about 60,000 or more people gathered in Jena, Mychal Bell remains in jail as the judge has refused to release him. Mychal is robert-bailey.jpgrobert-bailey.jpgheld without any charges in the LaSalle Parish adult jail instead of juvenile detention. Many people who marched on that historic day had faith that Mychal would join them. That was not the case, and I never thought it would be. Just think about it. That would be too much like right, and the powers that be in Jena would not go down in history and let it be said that they did the right thing.

The right thing. What exactly would be right thing be in the case? In my heart and humble opinion, I believe that the Jena Six teens were involved in a fight that day. I believe that they gave the victim, Justin Barker, a beat down that caused him great injuries. Therefore, I believe that the boys deserved to be punished, but on lesser charges that District Attorney Reed Walters has given them.

The local authorities are amazed that we came to Jena and didn’t cause any problems on Thursday, Sept. 20. Police didn’t issue one ticket, one citation. We did leave a lot of trash, which is to be expected. I didn’t like the fact that people trampled the shrubs at the LaSalle Parish Courthouse, but that’s minor compared to what could have happened on that day.

The local authorities are estimating the crowd on that day to be no more than 25,000 people. I beg to differ. I don’t know how one counts that many people but it sure seems like the “official” number is low.

Threats

The FBI out of New Orleans is investigating threats the families of the Jena Six are receiving from white supremacists, who posted the names and addresses of the families on a Web site urging their followers to take care of the situation in Jena. I refused to post their threats on this blog, but you get the picture.

According to the local press, Justin Barker’s parents gave an interview to a “reporter” with the nationalist movement because the “reporter” claimed he wanted to tell Justin’s story. They gave the interview, but later said they were “duped” because the “reporter” misled them. I can’t believe out of all of the requests from reputable media outlets, the Barkers would say yes this time. Nevertheless, they did, and the rest is history.

robert-bailey.jpgRobert Bailey’s myspace photo

What should have been a good day for me Saturday turned out to be a day of distress after I saw Robert Bailey’s myspace.com page. Judge for yourself, but this is not the image we need to see of Bailey and any of the other defendants.

Bailey’s myspace page has since been taken down, but unfortunately I saw it before it was deleted. I took notice of the page after the local press had the story in that day’s paper. The local press insinuated that the money that Bailey is basking in is from the money people are sending to the legal defense fund. I don’t know, and I sure hope that’s not the case. You be the judge of that. It’s too much for me to even begin to wonder.

For all I know this photo could have been taken before this tragedy occurred. However, there were other pictures of Bailey and another teen wearing “Free the Jena Six” T-shirts. Robert presented himself as a “thug” on his page. Maybe, it’s a teen thing that I don’t know about. I hope that’s the case. There’s already too much going on with this case. We don’t need to find out that the money that many people donated  for the legal defense fund is being used for other purposes.

Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and beyond

You may have seen the parents of the Jena Six circling the country making appearances on The Larry King Show, Howard University and Congress. I didn’t get to see The Larry King Show, but I’ve been told Melissa Bell and Marcus Jones, Mychal Bell’s parents, held their own. Also, the Rev. Brian Moran, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church and spokesman for the LaSalle Parish NAACP branch, along with Justin Barker’s parents were expected to be in Los Angeles Monday to appear on the “Dr. Phil’s” talk show. If the Barkers went, this will be the first time that both sides will be in the same place to talk about the issue.

That’s all I have for now. Keep coming back to The Light.

White man, juvenile arrested for noose incident in Alexandria, LA

Photo courtsey of CNN

 

Jeremiah Munsen, 18, and a juvenile, both of Grant Parish, arrested in Alexandria for riding in a red pickup truck with a hangman’s noose hanging form the bedrail. And they thought it would be us causing the problem.