Related to what is now being called the Jena 6, and in preparation for a rally that went on today in Jena Louisiana, LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters included the following in his statement:
This case has been portrayed by the news media as being about race. The fact
that it takes place in a small southern town lends itself to that portrayal. But this case is not and has never been about race. It is about finding justice for an innocent victim and about holding people accountable for their actions. That’s what it is about.
[...] Only the intervention of an uninvolved student prevented him from suffering even more serious injury or even death.
This last part that I quoted is clearly the DA's speculation. The seriousness of the alleged victim's injuries suffered in the afternoon have been a major issue since it was reported that the alleged victim was able to attend an event that evening.
The DA claims in his statement that the alleged victim was sucker punched and kicked, but the original charge of attempted 2nd degree murder against all 6 defendants was based on this projection not on the completed actions of the defendants. This is where racism can sneak in or come charging in.
Could anyone imagine a sexual harasser at a bar -- who put his hand on a woman's wrist and who then punched the woman's brother who told him to back off -- being charged with assault against the man and attempted rape against his sister because the DA believes that without intervention there would have been an attempted rape or maybe even a completed rape? If so, a lot of men in bars should prepare to be taken in and booked for what we believe they would do without intervention.
What if the man was black and the woman was white? Do we start creating a more sinister image of the interaction and the man's intent? Does it get even worse if the black man has a reputation for having a hot temper?
The bottom line should be that in all these variations identical actions were taken and that means that the same crimes -- if any -- were committed.
The DA mentions the nooses hung on the grounds of a local high school and claims that he searched for a criminal statute which covered what he admits was far more than a prank, but I don't know if there is evidence which showed that he took that act of intimidation seriously or that he took subsequent criminal actions committed by white students as seriously as he is taking this one.
If this is about holding people accountable for their actions then that needs to be all people. Even those who incite violence then stand back quietly when "those" people are arrested for their angry response. Even a DA who reportedly went to the school where the alleged crime happened with a police escort and, "told the students assembled that he could end their life with the stroke of a pen."
Nothing improper with that, right? Also nothing contradictory about giving a press conference where you say race isn't a factor while having an all-white grouping of people standing with you.
And there's certainly nothing improper about the DA also being the attorney for the school board. For more background, read this interview with Cleveland Riser, Jr., Former Asst. Schools Superintendent in La Salle Parish who retired in 1985.
Here is a link to the first blog post I read about this case which contains a summary of some of the events which led up to the attempted murder charges being filed. Read Elle abd's take on why Mychal Bell's (now overturned) conviction was no surprise on the counts of aggravated 2nd-degree battery and conspiracy to commit 2nd-degree battery.