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Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I posted a while back about the racially charged events in Jena, Louisiana. Today I did some research to get an update on those events. So far, one of the young black men has been convicted of aggravated assault. "Aggravated" means, in Louisiana law, that a weapon was used. The prosecutor claimed that the boy's tennis shoe constituted a weapon when he kicked the victim. Ten white prosecution witnesses disagreed about whether Mychal Bell had been the one to initiate the assault. Strangely, the defense attorney called no witnesses and made no case for the defense, even though a coach at the school had observed the fight and publicly stated that Bell was not the one who struck the victim. The other five boys who were charged have not yet been brought to trial.

I got the image above from the website of a former Baptist preacher turned advocate named Alan Bean. His organization is called Friends of Justice, and he is the one who got the word out in April that led to broad coverage in national and international media. Another thing I learned from him was that when the black youths protested by sitting under the controversial tree, law enforcement and the District Attorney were called to the school for a sobering assembly. District Attorney Reed Walters has been quoted as saying (while looking at the black students), “See this pen in my hand? I can end your lives with the stroke of a pen.” Sounds like he "Nifonged" them. A summary of other shocking details of the case can be found on the blog Pursuing Holiness. The news report from the local Alexandria, Louisiana, newspaper is here.

A quick web search will find many other sites discussing this case. Sadly, it still does not seem to be making the news. If you are so inclined, it would be good for the faith community to write letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, or otherwise make it known that this sort of thing is not any more tolerable in Jena than in Durham. In addition, I located a campaign to contact Governor Blanco and District Attorney Walters at colorofchange.org.

1 comment:

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Mike, you might want to put this on the BPFNA listserv.

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