Keep you and your children safe. Find the latest Product Recalls here.

BEWARE OF THE DEADLY TOXINS IN YOUR HOME - What you don't know about many common household products

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

JENA SIX Member MYCHAL BELL Shoots himself

A JENA SIX teenager whose arrest in a racially charged assault case drew thousands of protesters to his rural Louisiana hometown was in a hospital early Tuesday after a shooting that his lawyer said was accidental. MYCHAL BELL was cleaning a gun when it accidentally discharged, shooting him in the shoulder, his attorney, Carol Powell-Lexing, told CNN. He had surgery Monday night at a hospital in Monroe, Louisiana, and has not yet been able to talk, she said.

Monroe police Sgt. Cassandra Wooten said the wound was not life-threatening.

MYCHAL BELL was one of JENA 6 six black teenagers who faced adult felony charges in the 2006 beating of a white classmate in the town of Jena. The beating followed months of racial tensions in the community of 3,000 after three white students hung a noose in a tree whose shade was traditionally off limits to blacks at Jena High School, hence the name JENA SIX.

The case of the JENA 6 drew national attention from civil rights groups who argued that the charges were excessive. An estimated 15,000-plus people turned out for a September 2007 rally in the Louisiana town on the black youths' behalf. MYCHAL BELL eventually pleaded guilty to battery in a juvenile court, served several months in a youth home and later moved to Monroe, about 70 miles north of Jena. MYCHAL BELL was released in September 2007 and later agreed to a plea deal in the beating of a classmate.

About two years ago, the JENA 6 were at the center of one of the biggest racially charged controversies in a long time. The six black students at Jena High School in Louisiana severely beat up a white student, but after three white students hung a racially insensitive noose up in front of the school. The subsequent prosecution of the JENA 6 for their beating drew ire from the black community, with the racially charged atmosphere making national headlines. But one JENA 6 member is back in the headlines for even more ugly reasons, after shooting himself by accident.

MYCHAL BELL, a JENA 6 member who moved from Jena after the controversy ended, went to the hospital earlier this week after accidentally shooting himself with a gun he was cleaning. MYCHAL BELL had surgery for the wound on Monday, and has not been able to talk since.

MYCHAL BELL did not shoot himself on purpose, although the heated circumstances of the JENA SIX case may have made some speculate that he did, at least before the news reported otherwise. MYCHAL BELL and five other black Jena students were championed by the black community for several months, in a case that reignited old racial wounds.

Activists like Al Sharpton argued for the JENA SIX and Bell to face lesser charges or be released altogether, since the noose supposedly drove them to beat up a white student to such an extent. Others argued for charges against the Jena 6 and Bell that were called excessive and racially biased by many.

Ultimately, MYCHAL BELL himself went to a juvenile court and confessed to second-degree battery, serving several months at a youth home. When Bell was released and the JENA SIX case finally faded from national attention, Bell left Jena and moved 70 miles north to Monroe, Louisiana. The now 18-year-old Bell has been living with a foster family.

MYCHAL BELL had already faced an extra bit of attention last week, after he was arrested for shoplifting. According to Monroe police sgt. Cassandra Wooten, Bell felt upset over the extra media coverage he got for this arrest, due to his JENA SIX celebrity. This may help further the notion that Bell really tried to shoot himself.

Jena Six was the name given to a group of six black teenagers charged with the beating of Justin Barker, a white student at Jena High School in Jena, Louisiana, United States, on December 4, 2006. Barker was injured, but was released from the emergency room the same day. He has since brought suit against members of the Jena Six, their parents, the school district, and others allegedly involved.

A number of events took place in and around Jena in the months preceding the Barker assault, which have been linked to an alleged escalation of racial tensions. These events included the hanging of nooses from a tree in the high school courtyard, two violent confrontations between white and black youths, and the destruction by fire of the main building of Jena High School. The incidents were often linked in the extensive news coverage regarding the Jena Six.

Six individuals (Robert Bailey, then aged 17; Mychal Bell, then 16; Carwin Jones, then 18; Bryant Purvis, then 17; Jesse Ray Beard, then 14; and Theo Shaw, then 17) were arrested in the assault on Barker. One, Mychal Bell, was initially convicted as an adult of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. His convictions were overturned on the ground that he should have been tried as a juvenile. Prior to a retrial in juvenile court, he pled guilty to a reduced charge of simple battery. The other five defendants still await trial.

The Jena Six case sparked protests by those viewing the arrests and subsequent charges, initially attempted second-degree murder (though later reduced), as excessive and racially discriminatory. The protesters asserted that white Jena youths involved in other incidents were treated leniently. On September 20, 2007, between 15,000 and 20,000 protesters marched on Jena in what was described as the "largest civil rights demonstration in years". Related protests were held in other US cities on the same day. Subsequent reactions include songs alluding to the Jena Six, a considerable number of editorials and opinion columns, and Congressional hearings.

No comments: