The New York Times didn’t cover the Jena story until they were faced with a protest so big that they had to put it on the front page. But now, apparently they can find the space for this disingenuous screed from Reed Walters, the D.A. responsible for the Jena debacle.
Reed Walters complains that hanging nooses is no excuse to jump a white boy. But he conveniently leaves out his own shameful role in fanning the flames of racial unrest in Jena. He neglects to tell America how he also refused to protect Jena’s black youth from a series of attacks by white youth, in the days leading up to the attack on Justin Barker. He neglects to mention how a black youth was assaulted by a gang of white youth at a party, and how another white high school graduate threatened black youth with a shotgun outside a convenience store. This is the critical information we need to understand the attack on Justin Barker–it was the mirror image of a similar attack by white youth on a single, defenseless black youth that weekend. Except Reed Walters didn’t punish all the participants in that attack. Apparently some young people are worth more than others.
New York Times, now you need to publish a rebuttal from Friends of Justice that holds Reed Walters responsible for Jena’s racial unrest.
Also in the New York Times is an interesting commentary by Paul Krugman, connecting Jena to the Republican’s problem with race–i.e., having built their power by scapegoating people of color, they are now having trouble meaningfully campaigning for the vote of all Americans, especially our country’s growing ranks of Hispanic voters. Interesting…although Krugman is wrong to associate Jena only with the vestiges of Old Southern racism. Black youth are denied due process across America, not just in small Southern towns like Jena. So the problem is just as bad in Boston, MA as it is in Jena, Louisiana or Tulia, Texas. Talking from friends who minister in low-income black communities in Boston, it’s painfully obvious that the New Jim Crow is a national problem. That’s why Friends of Justice sticks to our guns on this point: Jena is America.