WHEREAS, the citizens of Jena, were granted a charter in May of 2007 forming the LaSalle Parish Branch of the NAACP in order to fight against racial discrimination in the trial of the Jena 6 and other acts of discrimination in this small Louisiana community; and
WHEREAS, the NAACP has been informed of the plight of six African American teenagers in Jena, Louisiana, involving their lengthy pre-trial incarceration because of excessive bonds on attempted murder charges for allegedly fighting with one of their white schoolmates; and
WHEREAS, the fight was the culmination of a series of racial incidents at Jena High School starting when white students responded to black students sitting under the "white tree," where white students would sit; by hanging three nooses from the tree; and
WHEREAS, the Jena High School principal found that three white students were responsible and recommended expulsion; and
WHEREAS, the white superintendent of schools overruled the principal and gave the students a three-day suspension referring to the noose incident as a youthful stunt; and
WHEREAS, the black students organized a sit-in under the tree to protest the light suspension given to the noose-hanging white students; and
WHEREAS, subsequently, the District Attorney came to the Jena High School with law enforcement officers to address the school assembly and threatened the protesting students by allegedly saying if they continue to protest about this innocent prank, can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen"; and
WHEREAS, one of these teenagers was recently convicted by an all-white jury of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery based upon kicking someone with a tennis shoe under highly questionable trial circumstances involving jury selection and trial tactics; and
WHEREAS, this case reflects a national trend involving disparate treatment of African Americans within the United States criminal justice system; and
WHEREAS, these teenagers could potentially receive over 20 years in prison for these charges for a total of over 120 years; and
WHEREAS, the members of the LaSalle Parish Branch have requested the support of the NAACP in demonstrating to the local community that they are not alone in their fight for equal justice for the Jena 6; and
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP hereby passes this resolution expressing support and solidarity for the Jena 6, their families, and the LaSalle Parish Branch of the NAACP; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will demand the United States Department of Justice investigate and monitor the trial of these African American teenagers for any violations.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will demand the United States Department of Education investigate allegations of discrimination against the Jena High School.