A massive rally in the small town of Jena, Louisiana takes a surrealistic turn as Martin Luther King III is thrust onto the spotlight. The son of the slain civil rights icon is seen here speaking to CNN reporter Kyra Phillips as thousands of protesters march—including Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson—in support of the six black teenagers initially charged with attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate.
King says some type of punishment should be in order for the six defendants but "the justice system isn't applied the same to all crimes and all people." The six teens were initially charged with attempted murder for a schoolyard fight with white students. This followed an ugly and escalating series of racially motivated incidents that started when three white hung nooses from a tree on high school grounds. Their suspensions were later overturned by the school district.
None of the majority white town's politicians, civic leaders or ministers have spoken against the noose—an offensive symbol reminiscent of lynchings—or the exclusion of black students from certain areas on the school grounds. Yesterday the "prosecutor ran out to television cameras flanked by a cadre of white men to argue that his decision to pursue the case was not based on race."
This morning and for the very first time, President George W. Bush spoke on the situation in the small Louisiana town and says he is "saddened" by the events but refuses comment because "this is an ongoing trial, and litigation is taking place." Compare this to the President's intervention in the Scooter Libby case during "an ongoing trial" where "litigation" and prosecution was taking place.
The situation in Jena has attracted a broad coalition of support from across the progressive community. The National Black Justice Coalition is in Jena and the Human Rights Campaign live blogs events in here. HRC President Joe Solmonese notes "injustice against one of us, is a cold, hard reminder that injustice in America still exists for a lot of us."