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.” Some tried to block teachers from reaching the scene, and the first teacher at Barker’s side thought he was dead.
Supposedly, Barker provoked this “black rage.” According to Town Talk, in “the civil lawsuit the Barkers brought in November, the Bells and their attorneys contend that on Dec. 1, 2006, a passenger in Barker’s pickup truck pointed and pumped a shotgun at Mychal Bell . . . They also claim that during lunch that day, Barker insulted Bell with racial epithets, a tomato was thrown at Bell’s lunch table from Barker’s lunch table, and then—just before Bell hit Barker—Barker insulted him by cursing at him.”
Other “racial incidents” also preceded the beating, not least of which was the appearance of nooses on the “white tree” on campus. Blacks, the nation learned, were not allowed to sit under the “white tree.” These excuses became the focal point of the media’s story. The implication was that Barker got what he deserved, that the “black rage” of Bell and his gang simply boiled over.
When the prosecutor filed attempted-murder charges, 20,000 protestors descended upon the benighted town of 3,000. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton pounded the war drums for “justice.” The charges were patently unfair. What about this town’s “racial problems”? What about the nooses and the “white tree”? Not surprisingly, the charges were reduced to misdemeanor battery.
Craig Franklin, an editor at the Jena Times, wrote a piece for the Christian Science Monitor that put the lie to 12 myths about the case, among them the nooses: “An investigation [showed that] the crudely constructed nooses were not aimed at black students. Instead, they were understood to be a prank by three white students aimed at their fellow white friends, members of the school rodeo team. (The students apparently got the idea from watching episodes of ‘Lonesome Dove.’) The committee further concluded that the three young teens had no knowledge that nooses symbolize the terrible legacy of the lynchings of countless blacks in American history. When informed of this history by school officials, they became visibly remorseful because they had many black friends . . . Nowhere in any of the evidence, including statements by witnesses and defendants, is there any reference to the noose incident that occurred three months prior. This was confirmed by the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, Donald Washington, on numerous occasions.”
As for the tree, “[t]here has never been a ‘whites-only’ tree at Jena High School. Students of all races sat underneath this tree. When a student asked during an assembly at the start of school last year if anyone could sit under the tree, it evoked laughter from everyone present—blacks and whites. As reported by students in the assembly, the question was asked to make a joke and to drag out the assembly and avoid class.”
The defendants exploded the biggest myth—that Barker provoked the attack—when they entered the no-contest plea accompanied by this statement: “To be clear, not one of us heard Justin use any slur or say anything that justified Mychal Bell attacking Justin nor did any of us see Justin do anything that would cause Mychal to react.” Town Talk added that “[t]he statement also expressed sympathy for Barker and his family, and acknowledged the past two-and-a-half years had ‘caused Justin and his parents tremendous pain and suffering, much of which has gone unrecognized.’”
In short, Barker did nothing wrong. That part of the statement, naturally, is not in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s press release on the plea, which begins by falsely asserting the beating occurred “amid racial tension sparked by nooses hung on the high school campus,” and ends with the usual leftist moonshine. The case “was always more than just Jena—the disparity in the treatment of African-American youth in the South and our nation’s criminal and juvenile justice systems, and the importance of a level playing field in our judicial system.”
And the media played along. As Franklin wrote, “I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.”
All this said, consider what the no-contest plea means: Jena isn’t a “racist” town, as young Bell told CNN, Barker is no racist punk, and revenge for racial taunts had nothing to do with the attack. Instead, black Bell, with the help of a black gang, led an unprovoked attack on white Barker.
In short, the Jena incident was a microcosm of what happens in this country every day. The Wichita Massacre. The Knoxville Horror. The Zebra Killings. All these examples of savage black-on-white violence are somehow forgotten or unreported, and sometimes, as with the Jena Six, they are actually excused as expressions of legitimate rage when the usual suspects cloud the air with bogus tales of nooses and “white trees.” Had Bell and his gang been white and Barker black, the crime would have triggered a national paroxysm of introspection and self-flagellation, with the New York Times and other media hectoring whites about racism, historical grievances, and all the rest.