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Pizzas and Basketballs and why Marketing people should NOT be left alone May 13, 2008

Posted by psmc in America, Basketball, economics, LeBron James, Marketing, Pizza, Society.
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I happen to live near Cleveland, Ohio, just east of Cleveland in Lake County to be exact. Which makes this area, in NBA terms, Cleveland Cavalier country. We are now into the second round of the NBA playoffs. In the first round Cleveland played against, and defeated, the Washington Wizards, neé Bullets. This is the third year in a row that Cleveland has faced Washington in the first round. Washington has always felt they were the better team (I wonder if they still feel like that after losing AGAIN this year). This year they played a particularly hard and physical series with Cleveland. I think that series averaged one technical foul per game. There was also a suspension, it should have been two, but hey that’s NBA. Anyway, Cleveland happens to have a very talented player, LeBron James. When it is all said and done, he may be one of the best players ever. After one game LeBron mentioned the fact about how physical the Wizards were playing this year and that the referees seemed to be overlooking this fact. He wasn’t complaining or placing the blame on this for any problems the team had, like losing two games. He simply mentioned it.

Well a local Washington Papa John’s Pizzeria decided to make some hay with his comments and produced some T-shirts calling LeBron a cry baby, of course the shirt’s had Papa John’s Logo. Needless to say, there were camera shots of people wearing these T-shirts on television. Apparently only five or six people were wearing these shirts, I also heard that not that many were made, so I suspect someone in Washington made sure the TV people knew about the shirts so they would appear on TV. How this was done I do not know. I would think someone, somewhere had to get some type of renumeration. Most likely it was in the form of pepperoni, much harder to trace than cash. While they made sure the TV people knew about it, the marketing genius forgot to tell the Papa John Corporate Office of the antic. (Not one but TWO goof-ups by some marketing genius)

As a result, several people in the Cleveland area called in to Papa John’s and complained. There was a PR nightmare in the making. Papa John’s immediately apologized to LeBron, the Cavaliers and the people of Northeast Ohio. In an effort to soothe hurt feelings, make amends, avert a PR a disaster and boost cholesterol levels to new highs, Papa John decided to have a special. On Thursday, May 8 they would sell a large one-item pizza for 23¢, limit one to a family.

OK, more thought should have into this plan. I am sure it sounded great in the president’s office, but on the said day, needless to say, Papa John’s was very popular. How popular? One community was reduced to gridlock from all of the pizza traffic, hopefully no one there had any emergencies or pressing business. I know of one accident in a parking lot between two Papa John customers. Another city fattened its coffers by ticketing several cars for illegal parking, $70 fine. There were also reports of a few fights, not to surprising in a day and age where road rage is a problem. One merchant who had his store next to a Papa Johns, spent the entire day telling people they could not park in his lot. One would think that the empty lot might have told these people something, but obviously hunger and/or the need to save money had dulled their thinking. I’m sure he wasn’t the only merchant hurt by this promotion. Another Papa Johns had to close at 4PM due to running out of dough, sending home hungry multitudes. How can you run out of dough? You would think they would have given everyone more flour and yeast. It’s not as if flour and yeast are expensive. Most Papa Johns had lines circling the block. Waiting times approached 2 hours for most to get their annointed pizza. And the majority of these people called-in their orders. Two hours for a 23¢ pizza. Somehow the math doesn’t seem to balance. Let’s not forget the time it took to and from the pizza joint. Apparently people don’t think their time is worth anything when they are not working.

It seems rather silly, all this hassle and confusion for a 23¢ pizza. But this demonstrates the danger of letting Marketing people go unsupervised. One came up with a not only a questionable promotion, they failed to get permission causing a public relation nightmare for the company. Then the company comes up with a plan that caused even more headaches. I think it would have been easier and cheaper for them to have mailed coupons to everyone in Northeast Ohio. First, not everyone would use them. Second, they could have placed expiration dates on them as well as other qualifications. Even if it would have resulted in more pizza sales, it would have spread the insanity out over a longer period and hence be more manageable. Besides, if customers could have come in at any time and not this one specific date, they probably would have bought more items. like another pizza. I know most of the customers that day got just the one pizza. I wonder what the carbon footprint of this 23¢ pizza was? Hopefully Al Gore won’t find out about this.

OOPS WE DID IT AGAIN…… December 26, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Britney Spears, Family Values, humor, Jerry Springer, music, Parenting, Pop Music, Society.
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And to think she’s the good one in the family.  Gee, I wonder why the publisher of her mother’s book on parenting was delayed indefinitely.  On a serious note, there are three children who are in danger of being victims of the Spears’s train wreck. Hopefully Britney can get her life on track and her sister can look to her sister as what NOT to do as a mother.

Justice for Jena, well sort of September 15, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Freedom, KKK, LAw, Politics, race relations, racism, Society.
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Awhile back I commented an injustice that occurred in Jena, LA.   I am happy to say that for one of the young men involved,  the Louisiana Supreme Court overturned his  conviction.  The court said that the charges he faced warranted him being tried as a juvenile and not an adult.  It is not known what the district attorney will do.  But if he is re-charged and re-tried, it will have to be in the juvenile courts.

Earlier two other defendants had their charges reduced to aggravated battery. The other three still face the original charge of attempted murder. They are still awaiting trial.  If found guilty of attempted murder, they can face 80 years in jail.

I am not saying that they should go unpunished, they did after all beat up some one.  But it was not attempted murder.  Clearly the charges are excessive here, and many feel that these excessiveness of the charges is due to their race.

For those not familiar with the story, Jena is a predominantly white town in rural Louisiana.  Last year a black student at under a tree that was traditionally a place where only white students congregated.  The next day three nooses appeared on the tree.  Neither the high school nor the school board did anything to punish the students involved.  They dismissed it as a student prank and did nothing.

Odd, in my high school one was usually disciplined when caught pulling pranks.  Sometimes it was a lecture or detention or even suspension.  But action was always taken.  Apparently the Jena schools have a more enlightened view on disciplining students.  Which is about all that is enlightened in this part of Louisiana.

As a result, a group of black students attacked one of the white students responsible.  They were arrested, and charged with attempted murder or aggravated battery.

The real criminals are the school authorities of Jena.  If they would have done their job after the initial “prank”  and punished the student or students who put up the nooses, the odds are good that no one would have been beaten up and 6 teenagers would not now be facing the possibililty of hard jail time.

Below are links to stories concerning the recent events in Jena.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20779755/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20589789/

I pronounce you man and wife…. August 19, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Arkansas, Familiy, Government, humor, Jerry Springer, LAw, Marriage, Politics, Society.
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In a horrible case of life imitating a bad episode of Jerry Springer, the state of Arkansas has mistakenly lowered the age that people can marry to, well, now there is no minimum age.  Infants can now get married.  Before this law went into effect the age of consent was 16 for women and 17 for men.  They had wanted to make it 18 for everyone.  But the bill had an exception in case of pregnancy. If there was a pregnancy involved and one or both participants under 18, then they could marry with parental consent.

However due to a typo the new law read: “In order for a person who is younger than eighteen (18) years of age and who is not pregnant to obtain a marriage license, the person must provide the county clerk with evidence of parental consent to the marriage.”

In other words, if the parents say yes, then kids can get married at any age. I’m not sure but I believe due to this wording,  makes marriage in case of pregnancy IS prohibited.  At least while the pregnancy lasts.

Amazing the power of one three letter word.  Even more depressing,  two houses of a state legislature along with the governor’s office bothered to read the law they were passing.  Makes you wonder what else is has been made legal, or illegal, and no one yet  figured it out.

In order to fix this, another law has to be passed.  This will require a special session of the Arkansas legislature since it is now in recess and won’t meet again until 2009.  Frankly I think the people of Arkansas would be better served if these turkeys never would have convened in the first place.

The story can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/yvu29d

A grieving grandmother and her lawyer August 16, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Familiy, LAw, money, Society, Wrestling, WWE.
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As you may recall, there was a tragic event in Georgia last month.  The wrestler Chris Benoit suffered some type of breakdown and murdered his wife, his son and then committed suicide.  As tragic and disgusting as this was, it entered a new level this week.  What is at issue now  is the order in which the victims died.

The mother of the wife of Chris Benoit wants a piece of his estate, which is worth millions.  As it stands now, it will go to Chris Benoit’s two children from a previous marriage.  However, some lawyer has obviously convinced this woman that she is entitled to some of this money.  It seems under Georgia law, if the mother died after the child then then the mother’s family is entitled to a piece of the estate.

This seems to be an esoteric fact of Georgia law.  It looks like a lawyer, smelling an easy payday, contacted this grieving mother, and convinced her she has a legitimate shot at the estate.

Unfortunately the police have consistently said that the mother died first then the son.  And if I recollect correctly, it was some time between the two deaths.  So there should be little doubt of the order of death.  But when it comes to money, especially millions of dollars, the truth is often a victim as well.

Evolution on Talk Radio August 14, 2007

Posted by psmc in biology, Coast to Coast AM, Evolution, paranormal, religion, Science, Society, Uncategorized.
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Before I continue, a disclaimer. I am not a Biologist nor am I an Anthropologist. My degree is in Mathematics with extensive coursework in Physics and Computer Science. And for most of my career I have been working with computers. Needless to say, I have a firm grasp of the principles Logic and of the Scientific Method. I have taken courses in Biology and Anthropology and have been very fortunate to have good friends and a few roommates who were anthropologists and have had many discussions with them on this subject. Sometimes, the best education one can get is having a lively discussion with knowledgeable people in a field over beer and pizza. The point I am making however is that one need not be a PhD candidate in a field in order to understand concepts that are fundamental to that field.

The other night I was listening to an overnight national radio show that specializes in the Paranormal, UFOs and other things that go bump in the night. They had a small piece on new hominid fossil finds that seem to put the time lines of the emergence of certain hominid species into question. The host was interviewing an individual while a biologist, did not seem to be one that agreed with Sir Darwin. The host seemed very excited and was eager to know if this discovery signaled the final death knell for Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. To be honest, he never used those words, but the tenor of hos voice iimplied he was hoping it was so. He also wanted to know that since this discovery totally invalidates Evolution (which it doesn’t) does it mean that Intelligent Design is the only theory left that makes any sense.

Normally, I try to ignore these comments and questions. I understand that they are frequently made out of ignorance and are usually designed to generate interest amongst the listeners which leads to higher ratings (ie more money). But for some reason, this interview was, for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Is it so hard for a nationally broadcast program with one of the largest listening audiences in US and Canada, if not the world, to find an accredited expert in the field of Biology to explain WHAT Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is? Especially when they like to make the claim they are trying to enlighten the minds of the listening audience. I also wished that they would interview their guests more aggressively.

This scientist they were talking to made a statement that was patently false and it went unchallenged. He claimed we have NEVER seen new species evolved. Well, where the heck are all these drug-resistant strains of bacteria coming from? How did AIDS arise? Is it just a coincidence there’s a similar virus that affects the other species of primates?

It’s clear that there are many critics and doubters of Darwin and his theory. It’s also clear that many of these people have no idea what his theory is, yet they oppose it just the same. And a lot of these people vote as well. Although I am sure that they decide ballot issues with more thought than they oppose Evolution.

I just find it particularly, well, immoral, for this radio program to do this. They claim that they want to inform and educate their listeners. (How is educating a person different than informing them?) Yet, they don’t seem to educate themselves on what they are talking about. I don’t care if they support Evolution, Intelligent Design or full blown Creationism. They can say and support any theory or no theory. All I ask is that they get reasonably informed on a subject before they attempt to trash it.

Amish Outlaw? August 14, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, humor, religion, Society.
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Well if they are using radar to control the Amish and their speeding buggies, then what I saw yesterday makes more sense.   I was at a local fast food restaurant and I saw a van pull-up with the name Renegade painted across the front of the van. After the van parked, about 10 Amish got out.  I found it amusing that a van full of law-abiding, traditionalist, pacifist Amish  were happily riding in a van named Renegade.  I was wondering what made these Amish renegades.  Maybe they used buttons and zippers, or perhaps they drove around listening to the farm reports on the van’s radio.

After all if they are speeding around in their buggies, Lord knows what other type of mischief they are up to.

Ain’t America Grand? August 14, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Society, Uncategorized.
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America certainly has some unusual place names. I wonder if the name of the town is an indication of what the nature of the town. Do you think Coatesville really is full of coats?

We Have met the Enemy and He is Us July 29, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Bush, Coast to Coast AM, economics, Freedom, money, Politics, Society, Uncategorized, war.
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To fund a new Iraqi economy and government after the March 2003 invasion, the U.S. Federal Reserve shipped 484 pallets of shrink-wrapped U.S. currency, weighing 363 tons, totaling more than $4 billion, and, according to a House of Representatives committee staff report in February, most of the cash was either haphazardly disbursed or distributed to proper channels but with little follow-up tracking. By March 2007, The Times of London found bank records revealing, for instance, that two unremarkable Baghdad small-business men (appointed to the defense ministry) eventually deposited over $1 billion in private accounts in Jordan, and that U.S. efforts to buy state-of-the-art equipment for the Iraqi army were seriously undermined because middlemen purchased only cheap, obsolete Polish munitions and pocketed the savings. [ABC News-Reuters, 2-6-07; The Times (London), 3-11-07]

I always loved Pogo. Well I guess we shouldn’t complain. It is only $4Billion. It’s not like it’s some major amount of money.

Death of a Republic July 21, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Bush, Freedom, Hillary, Politics, Society.
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“Executive Order – n. a President’s or Governor’s declaration which has the force of law, usually based on existing statutory powers, and requiring no action by the Congress or state legislature.”

I have never bought into that Bush is stupid act. I’ve always believed it to be just that, an act. It’s purpose is to give the people the sense that he is not part of the highly educated Eastern elite, which he is in fact is. And it has worked very well. He served two terms as governor of Texas and then went on to become President. He has a record of being able to work with the Democrats. In Texas he always worked with Democratically controlled legislature and he has been able to work fairly well with Congress. Bush has, as of this time, vetoed only 4 bills from Congress. Clinton had 37, this total is similar to other recent presidents. Clearly Bush has a some of political savvy in order to work with the opposition in Congress. Indeed, Bush may be more savvy that we realize. Recently he has signed two executive orders, which seemed to have gone unnoticed for the most part by our ever vigilant media.

The first was signed on 9 May 2007 and is called “The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive“. It allows the president in case of a “Catastrophic Emergency” establish policy for “National Essential Functions” for all executive departments and State, local and territorial governments.

Apparently this overrides the US and various state constitutions. What’s a “Catastrophic Emergency“? It’s any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions. So a hurricane, earthquake or terrorist attack can cause this to be invoked. This directive is broad and vague and some feel it gives the president the authority to suspend or postpone elections if he feels the need.

The second executive order was signed 17 July 2007 and is called “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq“. On first glance it seems fairly reasonable. It allows the government to seize assets of individuals who openly or covertly interfere with or threaten the peace stability of Iraq and the Iraqi government. Which most people would think refers to individuals and groups actively operating or financially supporting terror groups in Iraq. But as one reads further, one realizes that it can also include political and anti-war protests here.

Bush, stupid? I think not. Dangerous? Only time will tell. Oh and as far as I can tell executive orders are valid until they are superseded by another executive order. So even if George II doesn’t use them, the next person can…. hmmm Queen Hillary I???

Injustice in Jena July 17, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Freedom, KKK, Politics, race relations, racism, Society.
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When I first saw this I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a recycled story from 50 years ago. But no, this crap is still happening today in the 21st century. But what is more alarming to me is the lack of coverage this story has gotten in the US Press. It is an indication at how effete and morally bankrupt the Press in the USA has become.

 

Why morally bankrupt? News claims that its their duty to inform the American people, yet when a real news story occurs they don’t report it. They rather spoon feed us pabulum about socialites’ driving skills, celebrities getting married and the arrival of a Posh and Becks. Then they fill the airwaves with partisan and divisive crap tat they pass off as analysis.

 

This country is headed for the toilet

 

For background, see:

Black High School Students in Louisiana Threatened With Lynching *

All-WhiteJury Likely to Hear Racial Fight Case in Louisiana *

 

Injustice in Jena as Nooses Hang From the “White Tree”

 

By Bill Quigley t r u t h o u t | Report

 

Tuesday 03 July 2007 all white jury sitting before white judge agrees with white prosecutor and all white witnesses and convicts black youth in racially charged high school criminal case. In a small, still mostly segregated, section of rural Louisiana, an all white jury heard a series of white witnesses called by a white prosecutor testify in a courtroom overseen by a white judge in a trial of a fight at the local high school where a white student who had been making racial taunts was hit by black students. The fight was the culmination of a series of racial incidents starting when whites responded to black students sitting under the “white tree” at their school by hanging three nooses from the tree. The white jury and white prosecutor and all white supporters of the white victim were all on one side of the courtroom. The black defendant, 17-year-old Mychal Bell, and his supporters were on the other. The jury quickly convicted Mychal Bell of two felonies – aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. Bell, who was a 16-year-old sophomore football star at the time he was arrested, faces up to 22 years in prison. Five other black youths await similar trials on second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy charges.

 

Yes, you read that correctly. The rest of the story, which is being reported across the world in papers in China, France and England, is just as chilling. The trouble started under “the white tree” in front of Jena High School. The “white tree” is where the white students, 80 percent of the student body, would always sit during school breaks. In September 2006, a black student at Jena high school asked permission from school administrators to sit under the “white tree.” School officials advised them to sit wherever they wanted. They did. The next day, three nooses, in the school colors, were hanging from the “white tree.” The message was clear. “Those nooses meant the KKK, they meant ‘Niggers, we’re going to kill you, we’re going to hang you till you die,'” Casteptla Bailey, a mother of one of the students, told the London Observer. The Jena high school principal found that three white students were responsible and recommended expulsion. The white superintendent of schools over-ruled the principal and gave the students a three-day suspension saying the nooses were just a youthful stunt. “Adolescents play pranks,” the superintendent told the Chicago Tribune, “I don’t think it was a threat against anybody.” The African-American community was hurt and upset. “Hanging those nooses was a hate crime, plain and simple,” according to Tracy Bowens, a mother of students at Jena High. But blacks in this area of Louisiana have little political power. The ten-person, all-male government of the parish has one African-American member. The nine-member, all-male school board has one African-American member. (A person called the local school board trying to find out the racial makeup of the school board, and was told there was one “colored” member of the board). There is one black police officer in Jena and two black public school teachers.

 

Jena, with a population of less than 3000, is the largest town in and parish (county) seat of LaSalle Parish, Louisiana. There are about 350 African-Americans in the town. LaSalle has a population of just over 14,000 people – 12 percent African-American. This is solid Bush and David Duke Country – GWB won LaSalle Parish 4 to 1 in the last two elections; Duke carried a majority of the white vote when he ran for Governor of Louisiana. Families earn about 60 percent of the national average. The Census Bureau reports that less than 10 percent of the businesses in LaSalle Parish are black owned. Jena is the site of the infamous Juvenile Correctional Center for Youth that was forced to close its doors in 2000, only two years after opening, due to widespread brutality and racism including the choking of juveniles by guards after a youth met with a lawyer. The US Department of Justice sued the private prison amid complaints that guards paid inmates to fight each other and laughed when teens tried to commit suicide. Black students decided to resist and organized a sit-in under the “white tree” at the school to protest the light suspensions given to the noose-hanging white students. The white district attorney then came to Jena High with law-enforcement officers to address a school assembly. According to testimony in a later motion in court, the DA reportedly threatened the black protesting students saying that if they didn’t stop making a fuss about this “innocent prank”, “I can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen.” The school was put on lockdown for the rest of the week. Racial tensions remained high throughout the fall.

 

On the night of Thursday November 30, 2006, a still-unsolved fire burned down the main academic building of Jena High School. On Friday night, December 1, a black student who showed up at a white party was beaten by whites. On Saturday, December 2, a young white man pulled out a shotgun in a confrontation with young black men at the Gotta Go convenience store outside Jena before the men wrestled it away from him. The black men who took the shotgun away were later arrested; no charges were filed against the white man. On Monday, December 4, at Jena High, a white student – who allegedly had been making racial taunts, including calling African-American students “niggers” while supporting the students who hung the nooses and who beat up the black student at the off-campus party – was knocked down, punched and kicked by black students. The white victim was taken to the hospital treated and released. He attended a social function that evening. Six black Jena students were arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. All six were expelled from school. The six charged were: 17-year-old Robert Bailey Junior whose bail was set at $138,000; 17-year-old Theo Shaw – bail $130,000; 18-year-old Carwin Jones – bail $100,000; 17-year-old Bryant Purvis – bail $70,000; 16-year-old Mychal Bell, a sophomore in high school who was charged as an adult and for whom bail was set at $90,000; and a still unidentified minor. Many of the young men, who came to be known as the Jena Six, stayed in jail for months. Few families could afford bond or private attorneys. Mychal Bell remained in jail from December 2006 until his trial because his family was unable to post the $90,000 bond. Theo Shaw has also remained in jail. Several of the other defendants remained in jail for months until their families could raise sufficient money to put up bonds. The Chicago Tribune wrote a powerful story headlined “Racial Demons Rear Heads.” The London Observer wrote: “Jena is gaining national notoriety as an example of the new ‘stealth’ racism, showing how lightly sleep the demons of racial prejudice in America’s Deep South, even in the year that a black man, Barak Obama, is a serious candidate for the White House.” The British Broadcasting Company aired a TV special report titled “Race Hate in Louisiana 2007.”

 

 

The Jena Six and their families were put under substantial pressure to plead guilty. Mychal Bell was reported to have been leaning towards pleading guilty right up until his trial when he decided he would not plead guilty to a felony. When it finally came, the trial of Mychal Bell was swift. Bell was represented by an appointed public defender.

 

 

On the morning of the trial, the DA reduced the charges from second-degree attempted murder to second-degree aggravated battery and conspiracy. Aggravated battery in Louisiana law demands the attack be with a dangerous weapon. The dangerous weapon? The prosecutor was allowed to argue to the jury that the tennis shoes worn by Bell could be considered a dangerous weapon used by “the gang of black boys” who beat the white victim. Most shocking of all, when the pool of potential jurors was summoned, fifty people appeared – every single one white. The LaSalle Parish clerk defended the all white group to the Alexandria Louisiana Town Talk newspaper saying that the jury pool was selected by computer. “The venire [panel of prospective jurors] is color-blind. The idea is for the list to truly reflect the racial makeup of the community, but the system does not take race into factor.” Officials said they had summoned 150 people, but these were the only people who showed up. The all-white jury which was finally chosen included two people friendly with the district attorney, a relative of one of the witnesses and several others who were friends of prosecution witnesses.
Bell’s parents, Melissa Bell and Marcus Jones, were not even allowed to attend the trial despite their objections, because they were listed as potential witnesses. The white victim, though a witness, was allowed to stay in the courtroom. The parents, who had been widely quoted in the media as critics of the process, were also told they could no longer speak to the media as long as the trial was in session. Marcus Jones had told the media, “It’s all about those nooses” and declared the charges racially motivated. Other supporters who planned a demonstration in support of Bell were ordered by the court not to do go near the courthouse or anywhere the judge would see them. The prosecutor called 17 witnesses – 11 white students, three white teachers and two white nurses. Some said they saw Bell kick the victim, others said they did not see him do anything. The white victim testified that he did not know if Bell hit him or not.

 

The Chicago Tribune reported the public defender did not challenge the all-white jury pool, put on no evidence and called no witnesses. The public defender told the Alexandria Town Talk, after resting his case without calling any witnesses, he knew he would be second-guessed by many, but was confident that the jury would return a verdict of not guilty. “I don’t believe race is an issue in this trial. I think I have a fair and impartial jury”

 

 

The jury deliberated for less than three hours and found Mychal Bell guilty on the maximum possible charges of second-degree aggravated battery and conspiracy. He faces up to a maximum of 22 years in prison. The public defender told the press afterwards, “I feel I put on the best defense that I could.” Responding to criticism of not putting on any witnesses, the attorney said “why open the door for further accusations? I did the best I could for my client, Mychal Bell.”At a rally in front of the courthouse the next day, Alan Bean, a Texas minister and leader of the Friends of Justice, said: “I have seen a lot of trials in my time. And I have never seen a more distressing miscarriage of justice than what happened in LaSalle Parish yesterday.” Khadijah Rashad of Lafayette Louisiana described the trial as a “modern day lynching.”

 

Tory Pegram with the Louisiana ACLU has been working with the parents for months. “People know if they don’t demand equal treatment now, they will never get it. People’s jobs and livelihoods have been threatened for attending Jena Six Defense meetings, but people are willing to risk that. One person told me: ‘We have to convince more people to come rally with us … What’s the worst that could happen? They fire us from our jobs? We have the worst jobs in the town anyway. They burn a cross on our lawns or burn down my house? All of that has happened to us before. We have to keep speaking out to make sure it doesn’t happen to us again, or our children will never be safe.'” Whites in the community were adamant that there is no racism. “We don’t have a problem,” according to one. Other locals told the media, “We all get along,” and “most blacks are happy with the way things are.” One person even said, “We don’t have many problems with our blacks.”

 

Melvin Worthington, the lone African-American school board member in LaSalle Parish, said it all could have been avoided. “There’s no doubt about it,” he told the Chicago Tribune, “whites and blacks are treated differently here. The white kids should have gotten more punishment for hanging those nooses. If they had, all the stuff that followed could have been avoided.” Hebert McCoy, a relative of one of the youths who has been trying to raise money for bail and lawyers, challenged people everywhere at the end of the rally when he said: “You better get out of your houses. You better come out and defend your children- because they are incarcerating them by the thousands. Jena’s not the beginning, but Jena has crossed the line. Justice is not right when you put on the wrong charges and then convict. I believe in justice. I believe in the point of law. I believe in accepting the punishment if I’m guilty. If I’m guilty, convict me and punishment, but if I’m innocent, no justice.” The crowd joined with him and shouted, “No peace!”

 

 

What happened to the white guys? The white victim of the beating was later arrested for bringing a hunting rifle loaded with 13 bullets onto the high school campus and released on $5000 bond. The white man who beat up the black youth at the off-campus party was arrested and charged with simple battery. The white students who hung up the nooses in the “white tree” were never charged. Since the arrests, a group of family members have been holding well-attended meetings, and have created a defense fund- The Jena Six Defense Committee. They have received support from the NAACP, the Louisiana ACLU and Friends of Justice.

 

 

For more information:
The Jena Six Defense Committee, PO Box 2798, Jena,
LA 71342 jena6defense@gmail.com; Friends of Justice,
507 North Donley Avenue, Tulia, TX 79088
www.fojtulia.org ; or the ACLU of Louisiana, PO Box 56157, New Orleans, LA 70156 www.laaclu.org or 417-350-0536.

 

What is next? The rest of the Jena Six await similar trials. Theodore Shaw is due to go on trial shortly. Mychal Bell is scheduled to be sentenced July 31. If he gets the maximum sentence he will not be out of prison until he is nearly 40. Meanwhile, the “white tree” outside Jena High sits quietly in the hot sun.
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Bill is a human-rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. You can reach him at Quigley@loyno.edu. Audrey Stewart contributed to this article.
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