The case of the Jena Six has finally come to a close, and all members have settled with plea agreements in a Louisiana courtroom. Their history spans back to 2007 as they all stood at the epicenter of a Civil Rights Movement of the modern day.
Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis and Theo Shaw, 5 of the Jena 6, were given 7 days probation and a $500 fine along with court fines.
Being charged initially with attempted murder and conspiracy when accused of beating schoolmate Justin Barker, it had since been reduced to aggravated second-degree battery.
Mychal Bell, the sixth member and defendant, had pleaded guilty to a second-degree charge previously. Bell received an 18-month sentence for the crime.
The reduction of the charge is a result of Civil Rights leaders that rallied against the extremes of the initial charge, feeling that it was only so harsh due to the fact that the defendants were Black and the victim was white. More than 20,000 people were part of a major civil rights march in September 2007 on the town of Jena and around $275,000 was raised to hire a defense team for the six, according to Beard’s attorney, David Utter.
The initial incident occurred through racial tension after a Black student sat under a tree in the schoolyard where only white students congregated. The following day, three nooses were hanging from the tree.
As part of the deal that had been established, a statement was read by one of the attorneys of the defendant. In the statement, they stated that they were unaware of anything that Barker had done in order to provoke the attack administered.
“To be clear, not one of us heard Justin use any slur or say anything that justified Mychal Bell attacking Justin nor did any of us see Justin do anything that would cause Mychal to react,” the statement said.
Along with this the statement showed sympathy and made acknowledgement of the pain and suffering that Barker and his family went through in the past two-and-a-half years.
Through pleading no contest to the accused crime, guilt is not admitted by the five, but they are aware of the fact that prosecutors had sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.
A sense of relief is now on the minds of the accused, along with their families, as they now have the opportunity to continue on with their lives now that it’s finally over.