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Harlem Residents Head to Jena Louisiana for Rally to Free the Jena Six

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Activists from across the country are heading to Jena, Louisiana, for a major demonstration on Thursday to protest the treatment of six African-American high school students who were jailed and faced attempted murder charges for taking part in a fight after nooses were hung from a tree in the schoolyard. Last night we interviewed activists in Harlem as they boarded buses bound for Jena. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, last week, 10 months after the initial charges, a state court in Louisiana overturned District Attorney Reed Walters’s first conviction in the Jena Six case. An all-white jury had convicted 17-year-old Mychal Bell, but the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday he should not have been tried as an adult. Walters says he plans to appeal Bell’s overturned conviction and also pursue the other five prosecutions.

That’s only making people across the country even more determined to fight for justice for the Jena Six. On Thursday, Jena’s population of 3,000 could swell many times its size. Thousands of people are expected to pour into the town in solidarity with the six teenagers.

Last night, Democracy Now! went up to Harlem to speak to New Yorkers who had hired a bus to make the trip to be part of Thursday’s march.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re here on 125th Street at the historic Apollo Theater. It’s about 9:00 on Tuesday night. A group of people have gathered here in line waiting for a bus to take them more than 1,400 miles, more than 21 hours, to Jena, Louisiana. We asked them why.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I’m going to Jena along with thousands of other people to deliver a powerful and more determined message that we’re not going to be satisfied, and we’re not going to stop fighting until all the charges against all the Jena Six are dropped and all six of the Jena Six are walking free on the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I’m going down to let them know that we are tired. We’re standing up as black people, we’re standing up as one, to let them know that this cannot happen again. OK? In this day and time, hanging nooses from a tree, we’re not standing for it no more.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This government, this society, is robbing the youth of any kind of possibility of future. It’s placing humanity at risk. There are millions of people that are absolutely fed up with allowing our children to be ripped away from us and allowing people like George Bush and the rest of these fools to unleash these Neanderthals and these racists all across this country.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Racist stuff like this happens every day. You know, there’s nothing different or irregular about the fact nooses were being hung from a tree in a city just north of New Orleans, where black people were left to die, looking down at rooftops at bodies floating in water. But what was different was that Mychal Bell and the others stood up, and he’s been in jail since last December, doing more time than the pigs who shot Sean Bell. And I don’t think that’s the kind of verdict we can leave on that type of resistance. So that’s why we’re trying to get a bus full of — like I’m just speaking of high schools and other places — a bus full of like, you know, youth and students and people from Harlem. We’re going to say this is where we draw the line, and this is where we’re going to throw down, because we’re not having it no more. And we’re not going to stop ’til we free the Jena Six and we drop all the charges.

AMY GOODMAN: Voices of Harlem, headed to Jena, Louisiana, and we’re going to Jena in just a minute.

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Voices from Jena: White School Board Member Accuses Jena Six of Committing a Hate Crime, Says Nooses Were Hung from a Schoolyard Tree “In a Joking Manner”

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