Pam Spaulding over at Pandagon complains about the lack of coverage in the progressive blogosphere of the current Jena 6 protests. Fair enough.
Here's the Post's coverage of the protest, which has drawn thousands to a small town in Louisiana. All and all a pretty impressive turn-out considering that the one of the worst of the consequence of the scandal have already been overturned.
Quick summary. Jena had a serious of racist incidents, black students sat by a segregated tree during lunch and the next day nooses were hanging from the tree (the students who hung the nooses got a three day suspension). A black student was beaten up by white students at a party and [update: was charged with a misdemeanor assault]. Some of the black students later confronted one of the attackers who brandished a shotgun. The white student that pulled the shotgun wasn't charged but the black students that took it away from him were charged for theft. Subsequently a group of black students beat up a white student. They were arrested and one of them was charged as an adult, although the level of charges were reduced in response to protest. A few days ago, the attempt to charge him as an adult was thrown out of court. The jury that sentenced Mychal Bell and all the relevant officials were white.
For details on all that, check the article. Short version, I support the protest movement, oppose beating people up, and think that if the locals don't get their act together PDQ the Feds should intervene. More discussion and a bit more detail about the crime in question, after the cut.
[Update: Changed the summary thanks to what seemed like a credible, albeit critical, account from Slate.]
Here's the detail on the actual crime:
The case of the Jena Six originated in December when Bell and five other black teenagers... allegedly beat up a white student at Jena High School, knocking him unconscious and blackening one of his eyes.
The victim, Justin Barker, was treated at a hospital and released after two hours. He attended a class-ring ceremony later that night.
So I think it's fair to say that some level of punishment is appropriate, but some level of punishment is also appropriate for the nooses, which last time I checked were remarkably unsubtle death threats, and for the white kids beating up black kids. Most of the Democratic presidential candidates have condemned this, although there's been some stupid attacks on Obama for not condemning this strongly enough.
Anyhow, this is probably an area where the feds should step in. This really gets to the purpose of hate crime laws. Not because tougher punishments are necessarily appropriate, but because in some jurisdictions hate crimes won't be punished. I'm not particularly averse to the defendants getting some sort of sentence. Time served with some community service may be appropriate, I don't actually have a firm grasp of what the standard punishment is or how long the six have been in jail so far. The prosecutor there should also lose his job.
I have no real objection to those calling for "Freeing the Jena-6." Without them there'd be no chance fixing the egregious one-sidedness of law enforcement in this case.