The bellwether for the dismal position that the U.S. Department of Justice had found themselves in presented itself in the attempted suicide of Mychal Bell at the end of last year. If that name rings a bell, it should because his name was pre-eminent in the Jena 6.
Mychal Bell says he felt pressure to be perfect after his part of 2006′s “Jena 6″ assault case was over. When police alleged last month that he wasn’t, the Louisiana teen took his Christmas money and sought a gun to kill himself.
Distraught after being arrested on suspicion of shoplifting and battery, the 18-year-old Bell says, he pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger.
The gun misfired, and he aimed at his chest and tried again. The bullet ripped through his body, and he fell to the floor of his grandmother’s home in Monroe on December 29.
“It just got to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore,” Bell, who is recovering from the wound, said in an interview to be aired Thursday night on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.” Watch Bell describe shooting himself »
In December 2006, Bell — then an all-state running back for Jena High’s football team — was one of six black teenagers charged in adult court with attempted murder and conspiracy charges in the beating of a white classmate in Jena, Louisiana, an incident that followed months of racial tensions in the community of about 3,000 people.
The “Jena 6″ case drew national attention from civil rights groups that said the charges were excessive, and an estimated 15,000-plus people turned out for a September 2007 rally in Jena on the youths’ behalf.
The charges were eventually reduced. Bell, only 16, pleaded guilty to battery in a juvenile court and moved to Monroe. There, for the past year, he attended high school, chasing a 2009 graduation and — althoughLouisiana wouldn’t let him play football at his new school — hopes of a college football scholarship.
I just wanted to show everybody that I really wasn’t the type of kid that everybody was making me out to be,” said Bell, who worked out with his school’s team even though he couldn’t play in games. “Nobody will ever be perfect, but it’s like that’s where my mind was. You need to be perfect. …
“People were … just waiting [for me] to mess up. People were preying [on me]. ‘Just mess up, just mess up.’ There was a lot of pressure on me.”
Oh yeah, I had forgotten about them.
If you want to read the whole article, go to the CNN page to read it.
Most non-blacks most certainly had forgotten about them, but most of us in the black community have not. In fact, they had become the butt of many jokes as pictures of the young men were seen shortly after on Myspace flashing stacks of money. And if for no other reason, the black blogosphere reached a tipping point on this particular story. This was a story that forced many blacks to begin their blogs (although I think it was secondary to Obama’s ascension to the presidency).
The reason I say that Mychal Bell’s attempted suicide is related to the U.S. Dept of Justice bungles is because the District Attorney’s office knew that the charges were excessive–attempted murder, but the young man was able to attend the school’s dance that night? If the District Attorney’s office had done the appropriate thing, and not charged the young men with such excessive charges, then perhaps Mychal Bell would not have been in the center of what turned into a media circus.
And the bungles of the District Attorney’s office down there is one in a many that have resulted in some less than stellar police brutality situations, namely last spring’s attack in Philadelphia and so far the Oakland police officer Johannes Merhsele’s murder charges seem to be headed in the right direction. However, it’s of no secret that these are just the high profile cases. No doubt there are countless and nameless individuals who are getting unfair charges from local DA offices across this country as a result of racial and class bias.
What’s more troubling is the fact that the individual heading up the civil rights division is an effing fool. The question is just how the incoming administration will handle the after-effects of Bradley Scholzman who, according to an internal affairs department of the Dept. of Justice discovered that
…Over three years in which he controlled employment decisions, Schlozman favored young conservatives for entry-level jobs, transferred those he called “right-thinking Americans” into top assignments and instructed colleagues that “adherents of Mao’s little red book need not apply,” according to e-mails cited in the report. Authorities analyzed 112 career hires during Schlozman’s tenure and determined that “virtually all” of the lawyers whose political affiliations were known at the time had ties to Republicans or conservative legal groups.” Link to story
This was also in addition to “refus[ing] to hire lawyers whom he labeled as ‘commies’ and transferred another attorney for allegedly writing in ‘ebonics’ and benefiting from ‘an affirmative action thing.’”
Attorney General -designate Eric Holder, must address the civil rights department because it’s clearly in shambles. I also think Schlozman’s presence put forth a top-down air of that this department is NOT on the side of non-whites. Seriously such comments from a 38 year old man are almost bone-rattling. Not just the “how” of it all, but the “why” of it all. What would prompt him to say that, and probably act on those feelings. But, it is of no surprise that the current U.S. attorney’s office refused to prosecute Schlozman on any charges.
What is your take on Mychal Bell? Do you really believe that he got his just desserts or was just a victim of circumstances? What is your take on the current civil unrest in Oakland, California as a result of the police shooting? What do you think should happen to Bradley Scholzman?
Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL