The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


    No justice, no peace

    Thousands of protestors rallied outside the LaSalle Parish Courthouse in Jena, La. on Sept. 20 waving signs and chanting, “no justice, no peace,” to demonstrate their anger and frustration in the cases of the Jena Six.

    “This isn’t Essence Music Festival or the Tom Joyner Cruise. This is a movement,” said Martin Luther King III.

    While the rallying started for some as early as 7 a.m., supporters, dressed in black, the designated color for the event that is said to represent unity, filed from Chartered buses into the small town of Jena until 4 p.m.

    Much of the town was closed for the day. Residents either stayed in their homes or left town for the weekend, yet the few whites that rallied insisted on saying how close-knit the Jena community is and that the situation with the Jena Six is being “blown out of proportion.”

    Prior to the rally, the conviction of aggravated second degree battery had been thrown out for Mychal Bell. Up until the day of the rally, Bell was still incarcerated however he has since been released on a $45,000 bail, according to court records.

    “We might be in Jena today but tomorrow it may be Jacksonville…there is a Jena in every state,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson.

    Dillard teams up with the NAACP

    A bus load of Dillard students were chosen to ride with the New Orleans chapter of the NAACP. Among those students was former NAACP President at Dillard, David McBride, and current President Nathan Dailey.

    “When we go [to Jena] we have to have the mindset of three things: self respect, respect for Dillard and dignity,” said Dailey.

    Arriving to Jena as the first representatives of Dillard, students exit the charter bus and joined the flow of supporters walking through the town.

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People urged members from the youth and collegial divisions to participate in the rally, according to Stephanie Brown, National Director of the NAACP Youth and College Division.

    Dillard alumna, Jasmin Demerson, took every measure she could to ensure a seat on the bus with the NAACP.

    “When I heard about what was happening in Jena, I called my sisters and told them to do whatever they could to get me on a bus. I didn’t care if the buses were departing at eleven that night, or two in the morning. I just knew that I had called in for work to fight for something much greater,” said Demerson.

    Students rallied for hours and even took pictures with members from the Black Panther Party before engaging in a final march chanting Bob Marley’s, “Get up, stand up,” alongside Jackson, Sharpton and the Rainbow/PUSH coalition.

    While on the bus, students talked about the rally. The unification of one race demanding justice and equality was overwhelming for some.

    “The demonstration was very productive. It was amazing to see so many African American youth from different HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) coming together,” said Ashley Dallas, junior, business major, from Chicago.

    What’s Next

    Several organizations have asked Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Attorney General Charles Foti Jr. to pay particular attention to the Jena Six investigation. The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus suggests that the next thing to do is to evaluate the appellate process and determine if anything can be done through the legislature.

    “We are the voice of the voiceless and the hope of the hopeless. We need to make sure Jena doesn’t become Katrina,” said Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Juan LaFonta.

    Since the rally, more hate groups and hate crimes have emerged, according to crime reports.

    Two white males were arrested in Alexandria, La., a town less than forty miles Southwest from Jena, for dangling two nooses from a pickup truck and repeatedly driving pass a group of black Jena Six supporters.

    At Andrews High School in High Point, NC and at the University of Maryland College Park Campus, administration has reported nooses being sighted on campus.

    Civil rights leaders contend that the fight is not over.

    According to Sharpton, “This is not about politics. It’s not about black against white. It’s about equal protection under the law and justice.”

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    No justice, no peace