Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Putting a face on the Jena Six

Before the Jena Six rally on September 20th, I posted my opinion that injustice was being done to these six young men, who are charged with varying degrees of attempted murder for a schoolyard brawl while the white students who instigated the fight by hanging a noose in a schoolyard tree were simply suspended from school for a few days.

There are a lot of heated emotions on this subject. People in the public eye have taken up both sides quite fervently. It's become hard to know what is fact and what has been exaggerated by the media. I also know that a lot of people don't agree with my opinion on this matter. I know of one reader who stopped reading this blog because he so strongly disagrees with what I said about the Jena Six and the boys who put up the noose.

So I was pleased to come across an interview with the mother of one of the Jena Six, Bryant Purvis. The interview with Purvis' mother, Tina Jones, appears in In These Times, and is a thoughtful and articulate description of the facts in her son's case.

I don't claim to be a legal scholar, but it is fairly obvious after reading this interview that in Purvis's case, the charges are bogus. No matter what your thoughts are on the Jena Six, I encourage you to read this story about one of the individuals. It is, after all, important to remember that behind the catchy “Jena Six” phrase, there are six young men facing life-altering criminal charges.
How would you describe your son Bryant?

Bryant was an honor student throughout his first three years of high school. He also played basketball and football, but his main thing was basketball. Hopefully, he’ll get to graduate and go to college and play basketball. If not, he wants to become a coach.

He’s also a people person. When people see his car or somebody finds out he’s here, everybody just walks over to visit.

When did you first know that your son might face legal trouble because of the events at the high school?

Bryant came home and told me that there was a fight at school and that several kids were arrested. Lo and behold, the next day when I get to work, my aunt comes and tells me that Bryant was at the courthouse. I didn’t think it was anything related to the fight. I thought something else had happened.

I rushed down there and they told me that Bryant had been charged.

You were shocked to hear Bryant was being charged. Was Bryant as surprised as you were?

He was very surprised, because he wasn’t in the fight at all. Bryant wasn’t involved in anything that led up to the fight.

Read more here.

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