By Kenneth Miller
Sentinel Managing Editor
By Evan Barnes
Sentinel Staff Writer
Just as the clouds gave way to a peak of sunshine the charter buses began rolling up along Crenshaw Blvd. on Tuesday, Sept. 18 where a horde of concerned community citizens were anxiously waiting to take their protest directly to the scene of one of the most gross in justices against Blacks since Jim Crow.
There alongside the Sentinel office building they stood and sat and slumped, accompanied by their backpacks and water coolers. In all ages and genders they assembled in a powerful bond of solidarity for six young Blacks they never met, but have shared their enduring pain.
It was indeed the wait before the more than two-day bus ride to join in protest with thousands of others in support of the six African American young men accused of assaulting a White schoolmate in Jena, Louisiana.
“It’s 2007 and we should not have to worry about facing racial injustice,” decried 16-year old Hugh Augustine.
His sentiments were shared by many of the other 300 soon to be passengers, some of whom were taking only with them the faith that some justice would be served among the accused young men in Jena.
Flanked by her three teenage children, Jo Jo Scales declared, “This is an important cause because it could be anybody’s kids. I’ve seen racism before, but not to this extreme. I want my kids to experience this.”
“Everything that affects the plight of Black folks we have to support it,” said Patryce Jones.
Another woman who brought teenagers with her to experience the tragedy of the Jena Six was Eric Jackson who brought along with him a 17 year old and three youth’s ages 8, 10 and 12.
The event was reminiscent of the height of the Civil Rights Movement when marches changed laws and were the most powerful tool minorities had, obviously by this display it still is.
Right before noon the throng assembled in an enormous prayer, joining hands together and being led by Dr. Rev. Fredrick O. Murph of Brookins AME who ministered, “Lord we are going to Jena today, but we are not going there alone for we are asking that our lord and savior Jesus Christ watch over us and the young men of Jena, Louisiana.”
As silence overwhelmed the hushed crowd, heads bowed, thoughts consumed them of what was and what will become of a nation that has too frequently allowed for the ugly head of racism to be seen again.
Then they began climbing aboard the charter bus, one by one until all three had been loaded with passengers and food and snacks and water donated by more than 100 citizens and community leaders.
For the next 36 hours they will ride until they reach Jena where they will be joined by thousands of other individuals from throughout the nation and all walks of life who will be descending on Jena, Louisiana on Sept. 20 to participate in a rally to support the Jena Six.
Civil rights leaders, entertainment figures, college students and concerned supporters will make their voices heard in what is shaping up to be the largest non-immigrant related rally in recent memory.
According to reports, 500 to 1,000 buses have made their way to Jena for an all-day event to let the world know not just that an injustice has happened, but to let the powers that be know they will not stand for it.
In Los Angeles, radio stations KJLH and V100 along with the Los Angeles Sentinel sponsored buses to Jena and the people who gathered on Tuesday were anxious to not just be a part of history, but also show the world that Black people are not going to take injustice lying down.
There are also plans for another local rally at Leimert Park at 4 p.m. Organized by concerned college and high school students, it is an example of how this case has galvanized the youth to step up and take action on behalf of their peers.
“This is a very serious issue for young African-Americans, it seems like we always get the harshest punishment,” Jimmie Lewis said.
He paralleled it to the case in Long Beach last Halloween where ten teens were accused of assaulting three White females, despite claims that some of the accused may not have been present at the assault.
Along with the Community Called to Action and Accountability (CCAA) organization, the rally will include students from schools ranging from UCLA, Cal-State L.A., Northridge and Dominguez as well Crenshaw, Locke and Hamilton High Schools.
The recent news surrounding the case has given its supporters more confidence that their voices have not been ignored. On Sept. 14, the first of the six to be tried, Mychal Bell, saw his battery conviction overturned on the basis that he should not have been tried as an adult.
Bell was scheduled to have a bail hearing on Monday, but there was no announcement if he had been freed, as of press time.
Earlier this month, Bell’s conspiracy conviction was dropped along with the attempted murder charges reduced to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy for Carwin Jones, Theo Shaw and Robert Bailey.
Bryant Purvis remains the only one of the six to be charged with attempted second-degree murder while the youngest member, an unidentified juvenile, faces undisclosed juvenile charges.
Because Jones, Shaw, Bailey and Purvis were 17 at the time of the beating, they will still be tried as adults under Louisiana law whereas Bell was only 16.
Everyone is encouraged to wear black today as a sign of solidarity for the Jena Six. Rally organizers have called for Thursday Sept. 20 “A Day of Action” around the country.
Additional support was provided by Bobe Ngwebifor Foundation, Clarence Avant, Brotherhood Crusade, Mothers In Action, Assemblyman Merv Dymally, McDonalds Black Owners and Bob Johnson, Labor Community Service of Los Angeles, Black Teamsters Association, V100 Radio, Los Angeles NAACP, Hubert Humphrey Employees, Jackson Limousine, Councilman and Isadore Hall.