Last night two dozen people climbed a bus heading for Jena, Louisiana. The bus ride is one of hundreds converging on the small town to protest the so-called Jena 6 case. The case is named for 6 black teenagers charged with attempted murder for beating up a white classmate. ideastream's Tasha Flournoy spoke with some of the protesters as they boarded the bus.
The bus that rumbled out of the parking lot behind Lutheran East High School last night is one of many from around the country that will roll into Jena on Thursday, when demonstrators will gather, wearing black, to show their support for the six young men.
Last week the battery conviction of one of the accused teens, Mychal Bell, was overturned by an appeals court. But he may still face other serious charges as a juvenile. The remaining five, are free on bail and awaiting trial. Protestors say the charges are racially motivated.
A series of events including white students who hung nooses from a tree and the subsequent beating of a white student have propelled the case into the national spotlight, highlighting the racial tensions in the town of 3,000.
Freddie Mayes of Euclid says she is so moved by the case that her co-workers felt compelled to pay her way. Mayes says the bus trip is about sending a message of solidarity.
Freddie Mayes: I'm hoping like I say to bring the spirit back with me and keep it moving. I tell people I made a sign that says "Be Made". And they like, "Be Made" what it mean? Black empowerment makes a difference. Because it truly does. You know people profit on us truly not being united. So, I'm just glad to be going. Truly glad to be going.
For those not going, community groups and the NAACP of Cleveland have planned a protest march Thursday at 8 am. The march will begin at Ted Ginn Academy on East 32nd Street.
Tasha Flournoy, 90.3.