September 6, 2007 — Vol. 43, No. 4
Send this page to a friend!


Charges reduced in ‘Jena 6’ attack

JENA, La. — Prosecutors on Tuesday reduced the attempted murder charges against two more teenagers among the “Jena 6,” a group of black high school students who were arrested following an attack on a white schoolmate.

Five of the teens were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, carrying sentences of up to 80 years in prison. The sixth faces undisclosed juvenile charges.

Civil rights advocates have decried the charges as unfairly harsh.

On Tuesday, charges against Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy. That same reduction was made earlier for Mychal Bell, who was tried and found guilty and could be sentenced to 22 1/2 years at a hearing Sept. 20.

Also awaiting trial are Robert Bailey Jr. and Bryant Purvis, who still face attempted murder charges, and the unidentified juvenile.

The attack on Justin Barker, 18, came amid tense race relations in Jena, a mostly white town of 3,000 in north-central Louisiana where racial tensions have grown since incidents that started last school year at Jena High School. After a black student sat under a tree on the school campus where white students traditionally congregated, three nooses were hung in the tree.

Students accused of placing the nooses were suspended from school for a short period.

The six black students were accused of beating and kicking Barker on Dec. 4. A motive for the attack was never established. Barker was treated at a hospital emergency room and released after about three hours.

Shaw’s attorney, George Tucker, said Tuesday that he still doesn’t believe his client will get a fair trial in Jena.

Shaw himself has dreams of attending Grambling State University.

“Just drop all the charges and let us go on with our lives,” the teenager told CNN Tuesday.

Michigan apartment complex to pay $725,000 in discrimination case

LIVONIA, Mich. — The owner of an apartment complex accused of refusing to rent to blacks because they “bring in trouble” has been ordered by the U.S. Department of Justice to pay $725,000.

Federal prosecutors allege owner Elliott Schubiner told property managers not to rent to “people from Detroit” because they “bring in trouble, like drugs and other trouble.”

The Justice Department charged that the managers were told to keep quiet about available apartments and to demand a deposit if blacks wanted to apply. Prospective renters who were not black could apply with no deposit, the department alleged.

Through a lawyer, Schubiner denied the claims and said he settled the suit to end the 2006 case, The Detroit News reported last Thursday.

The owners of the former Whispering Woods, now called Apple Ridge Apartments, will pay $350,000 in damages and attorney fees to the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit, $330,000 in damages to 21 people who sought apartments and a $45,000 civil penalty.

The order also requires General Properties Co. and Schubiner to use an independent property management company to handle the application and rental processes at the complex, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The government brought the case as part of “Operation Home Sweet Home,” a crackdown on housing discrimination launched after Hurricane Katrina.

NAACP challenges Louisiana voter purge after Hurricane Katrina

NEW ORLEANS — The NAACP last Thursday filed a civil rights lawsuit challenging a purge of Louisiana voters believed to have registered in other states following Hurricane Katrina.
In the federal court action, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People contends that the purge has already begun without the necessary pre-approval of the Justice Department.

Because of its history of racial discrimination before the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, voting changes in Louisiana and other Southern states must be approved by federal officials.

On June 15, Secretary of State Jay Dardenne announced that his agency was mailing notices to 53,554 voters saying they must give up their registration in other states or risk losing the right to vote in Louisiana. Dardenne said the state had compared Louisiana voter rolls with those of other states and identified people with identical names and dates of birth.

Voters were given one month to prove they had canceled their out-of-state registrations. After that, they had to appear in person at their voter registrar’s office with documentation that their non-Louisiana registration had been canceled.

On Aug. 17, election officials said more than 21,192 people had been dropped — the majority from areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. Of those, 6,932 were from Orleans Parish, which was majority black before the storm.

In its suit, the NAACP said that “the voting rights of many more may be threatened unless this court enjoins this practice.”

The named plaintiffs in the suit include Rosa Segue, a woman described as a lifelong Orleans Parish resident who lost her home to Katrina and has relocated to Katy, Texas, and a person identified only as John Doe-Jane Doe displaced from Louisiana, who intends to return.

The suit says the second plaintiff has not voted in another state, does not intend to and never received any warning about the pending removal from Louisiana voting rolls.

Since the suit involves a voting rights case, the NAACP is requesting, as provided by federal law, that the case be heard by a three-judge panel of federal district judges.

Associated Press text, photo and/pr graphic material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritte for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. Neither these AP Materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computerexcept for personal and non-commercial use. The AP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions therefrom or in the transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages arising from any of the foregoing.

Back to Top