Cultural Revolutions

They Got Away With It

Nearing the third anniversary of their crime, the remaining members of the Jena Six at long last admitted what anyone with any sense knew: They are guilty as charged.

The leader of the pack, Mychal Bell, had already confessed to second-degree battery on December 4, 2007, one year to the day after the attack, and received an 18-month sentence.  By entering a no-contest plea, the remaining five admitted that prosecutors had ample evidence to convict them of beating and stomping a white schoolmate at Jena High School in Jena, Louisiana.  At the sentencing for the offense of misdemeanor battery, the judge ordered just seven days’ probation, plus restitution and court costs, and let one defendant off the hook without paying the fine because of time served.

So they got away with it—by exploiting the justice system’s inertia and the media’s passion for obviously guilty black criminals.

The facts of the case are as follows: On December 4, 2006, Bell, a black football player and violent criminal, sucker-punched Justin Barker from behind.  Once Barker was down, Bell’s group began stomping and kicking him.  As Town Talk reported at the time, “phrases like ‘stomped him badly,’ ‘stepped on his face,’ ‘knocked out cold on the ground,’ and ‘slammed his head on the concrete beam’ were used by the students in their statements.” ...

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