A rally to help spread awareness of the Jena 6 teens was held in front of the Oviatt Library Thursday.
The Black Student Union, all of whom wore black as part of the protest, held the rally to help spread awareness for the case of Mychal Bell. Members informed any person passing by who stopped to listen about Bell’s case, who is one of the Jena 6. Along with the information and petitions, the BSU was also accepting donations that would be sent to Bell’s family to help pay for legal fees.
Leora Kirk, a rally member, continuously shouted, “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.”
BSU members said the rally was to spread awareness of unfair bias in the justice system. One of the participants in the rally, Melvin Robinson, said it’s sad that there are still such happenings in the country.
“I thought this country moved past the racism,” Robinson said. “But it’s still there.”
Seventeen-year-old Bell was one of six African American teenagers arrested for the alleged beating of white classmate Justin Barker in Jena, La. last December. The alleged beatings took place as racial tensions increased after white students hung three nooses on a tree at Jena High School.
Bell faced a charge of conspiracy to commit second-degree battery, but that charge was later withdrawn. The white students that hung the nooses in the tree were suspended from school.
“In my opinion, that sounds like a hate crime,” Robinson said of the nooses. “They just have to leave school for a few days and don’t face any criminal charges. That just isn’t right.”
The BSU Director of Finances Blyth K. Williams was also at the rally. She said that situations such as the one in Jena affect people across the country and don’t just affect local communities.
“People usually wait till something like this gets close to home,” Williams said. “But that’s why we’re here, so something like this doesn’t get close to home.”
BSU President Patrick Hogg said, “Everybody needs to be aware of this definite injustice.”
“The situation isn’t right and people all around campus definitely need to know about this, not only around campus but around the nation,” Hogg said.
Thousands of people also marched in support of the Jena 6 in Jena, La. Thursday. Hogg said the BSU wasn’t able to be there, so they decided to spread awareness at CSUN instead.
“If we let this one situation pass us up,” Hogg said, “how many other situations are going to be overlooked?”
Hogg urges anyone who’s aware of the Jena 6 situation to spread their awareness, inform other people and to wear black to aid in the protest.
“For the past couple of days, we’ve been passing out petitions and informing people of this situation,” Hogg said. “We also encouraged people to where black on this day.”
“I want to make it known that the Jena 6 are not criminals,” Hogg said. “They’re heroes in a war that’s been fought for too many years (?) that needs to stop. It’s unfortunate, in the year 2007, that something like this can happen.”
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