Mychal Bell Back In Jail and More Nooses on the Loose

Date Put forth on October 13, 2007 by XicanoPwr
Category Posted in Civil Rights, Prejudices, Racism


Mychal Bell, one of the Black students known as the Jena 6, is back in jail. Bell, was ordered to spend 18 months in a juvenile facility, after a judge determined he had violated his probation for earlier juvenile convictions.

According to CNN, the decision to send Bell to the juvenile facility came at the end of a two-day juvenile court hearing that was closed to the public and media. Judge J.P. Mauffrey agreed with prosecutors that Bell had violated the probation he was given for four previous juvenile offenses, including two simple battery charges because of the alleged fight Bell and the other five Black students had with White student Justin Barker back in December 2006.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton told reports that the ruling the judge made was based on “revenge” and he is now asking Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to intervene on the matter. It is interesting how the prosecutors (AKA District Attorney Reed Walters) decided to pursue this just two week after Bell was released. How much is Judge J. P. Mauffrey’s decision based on retribution for all the media attention and public outcry surrounding Jena?

The Jena Six case resonated widely enough in the US to spark the largest civil rights protest in years, but but the emotionally fraught object at its center appears to be ascendant as well. Last month, a noose was found hanging from a tree outside the Black cultural center at the University of Maryland, College Park. That is not the only case, recently that has not stopped.

At the Model Secondary School for the Deaf, a residential high school on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., seven students, six white and one black, assault a black student and scrawl KKK and swastikas all over him. The high school is administered as a division of the university’s Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.

Gallaudet president Robert Davila said the game was “destructive and represented a kind of evil that existed in society.”

“What we want to do is teach our young people … that it’s not acceptable regardless of the intention to have fun,” he said.

The two groups separated, Lanier said, but later, six white students and one black student took another of the black students into a dorm room and “held him there against his will.”

“During the course of that time they had him held, they used markers to write ‘KKK’ and draw swastikas on the student,” she said

Most of the dozen occurrences in the past two months involved a noose left anonymously at a school or workplace. One incident occurred in a Home Depot store in South Elgin, IL. South Elgin police are investigating a possible hate crime after a racial slur was painted on a work counter and a noose was found hanging from an exit at a Home Depot store under construction. According to the Chicago Tribune, workers discovered a noose made out of foam hanging from an exit in the building’s garden center. The incident was not reported to police at the time.

Another incident occurred in Hempstead, NY, where a noose was found in the locker room of the Hempstead Police Department. The noose was hanging from a ceiling pipe the in a basement of the Police Department’s locker room. According to Hempstead Police, the threat was directed at Deputy Chief Willie Dixon, who is black and who was promoted in May, becoming chief of patrol and supervisor of the department’s civilians. Near the noose was an old newspaper article about Dixon, who had faced criminal assault charges on which he was acquitted in 1993. More newspaper stories about Deputy Chief Dixon were posted on a bulletin board in the locker room and in an adjacent men’s room.

Earlier this month, Associated Press reported that two Coast Guard facilities, that last July a noose was found stuffed into the personal belongings of a black cadet on a Coast Guard training ship. Two weeks later the Coast Guard Academy’s civil rights officer, who was preparing race relations training for cadets headed for the same ship, found a noose in her office.

The day after the massive protest in Jena, LA, a total of four nooses were found were around the campus of Andrews High School in High Point, NC. Two nooses were hung on a tree in front of the school, one was in a bus loop near the upperclassmen’s parking lot and one red noose was tied to the top of the school flagpole.

In Columbia, SC, two 16-year-olds hung a makeshift noose from a tree on the campus of A.C. Flora High School. According to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the teens brought rope to school and made the noose in the presence of other students during lunch. School officials said this was probably sparked after an argument occurred when a group of black kids approached them and allegedly took their football away from them. In retaliation, the two students hung a noose from a tree on campus.

It seems that Lott learned nothing from the Jena incident and has decided to follow Jena’s District Attorney Reed Walters lead on how to handle race relation. Lott said he did not believe the incident was triggered by racial tension, but is blaming the media for planting the idea of using a noose in their heads.

“I think it’d be far-fetched to call it a hate crime,” Lott said. “I’d call it stupid. I hope the kids look at it as something stupid. I hope the parents and community look at it” the same way.

In Pennsylvania, a string of noose sightings occurred in the surrounding area of Pittsburgh. On October 2, officials said a black baby doll, with a racist threat, was found hanging in a hallway at Port Authority of Allegheny County’s East Liberty garage. The threat was directed at an unspecified black woman. Later in the week, a Verizon worker from Butler County said someone left a noose around a doll’s neck with a note saying she didn’t deserve a promotion. On the same day, a worker from Zambrano Corp in O’Hara Township, PA found a noose on the second floor of the construction site in his work area.

The latest report comes from Columbia University. A hangman’s noose was found dangling from professor Madonna Constantine‘s office door at Teachers College at Columbia University. To make matters worse, Columbia University has refused to turn over security videotape that could help identify who hung a noose to police. However, in the end, under pressure from police, Columbia’s Teachers College turned over the security camera.

Meanwhile, police were called to the Columbia University again to probe another hate crime. This time a caricature of a yarmulke-wearing man and a swastika was found on a bathroom stall door. At this time, police said there was no reason to believe the two incidents were linked. Police officials said they were “disappointed and surprised” at a delay caused when the school refused to turn over the tapes without a court order.

However, New York Police have been busy this past week. NYPD were called to another incident involving a noose during week in New York. Police has arrested an 18-year-old woman earlier in the week for hanging a noose on a tree in her yard and threatening to hang the children of her black neighbors. In the other case, a noose was found dangling from a lamppost above some scaffolding erected around the post office, which was closed for nearly three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because of contamination from asbestos, mercury, and debris from the fallen twin towers. Officials said it was not clear whether the noose was directed at the postal service or any other tenants in the lower Manhattan building.

Finally, in Texas, a supervisor with CPS Energy, a San Antonio public utility, displayed a hangman’s noose over two separated bibles in his cubicle at the downtown office. (h/t PDiddie)

This is just some of the recent reports on the return of the painful symbol of the past. Jack and Jill has also been tracking these incidents that have been occurring across the country. So why is it that people feel the can display the noose whenever they feel like it? The answer is easy, the incidents have one thing in common. They are often downplayed and are often labeled a prank. But calling the local incidents the work of pranksters it allows a conspiracy of silence to continue among White people.

Regardless if it is a racist “ghetto fabulous/south of the border” type party or hanging nooses, racism isn’t that it offends some people, it supports and strengthens an unjust social system that hurts people.

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2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. odd NPR on Nooses « Feline Formal Shorts Trackback on Oct 19th, 2007 at 12:47 pm
  2. even Everybody Comes From Somewhere » Nooses even at my old Alma Mater Trackback on Nov 30th, 2007 at 9:47 pm

4 Comments

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  1. Gravatar Icon Blair Oct 14th, 2007 at 9:38 am

    The Associated Press has published conflicting accounts of Mychal Bell’s sentencing, but Reuters gets it right. Mychal Bell’s alleged involvement in the Jena Six beating incident played no role in Judge J.P. Mauffrey’s decision to sentence him to 18 months in a juvenile detention facility. Prior to the Jena Six incident, Bell had been convicted of battery and placed on parole. While on parole for this first offense, he committed a second offense. He was convicted a second time of battery and found guilty of violating his parole on the first offense. However, his sentencing for the second offense was postponed when he became implicated in the Jena Six beating. When his conviction as an adult in connection with the Jena Six beating was overturned, the postponed sentencing for his second convction moved forward. The attorneys present at the sentencing hearing say that the Jena Six incident was never mentioned at the setencing hearing.

    The three white students who hung the two nooses at Jena High School say they were unaware that hangman nooses were considered racist symbols. The hangman noose’s emergence as a racist symbol is relatively recent. It began with articles, published mostly in scholarly journals, about Billie Holiday’s song, “Strange Fruit.” Most Americans don’t read these publications. Hollywood has conditioned them to equate hangman nooses with Old West cattle rustlers and outlaws. This explains the sudden rash of copycat noose hangings. No one every thought of it before. It also explains the sudden rush to remove hangman nooses from Halloween displays; no one regarded them as racist before. Until the Jena Six incident, people equated burning crosses, not hangman nooses, with racial injustice.

    We should ingnore people who hang nooses or burn crosses in their own yards. People who hang nooses in workplaces should be fired or prosecuted if the nooses are meant as a threat to specific individuals.

  2. Gravatar Icon Nezua Limon Xolagrafik-Jonez Oct 15th, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    is this satire? :

    “The three white students who hung the two nooses at Jena High School say they were unaware that hangman nooses were considered racist symbols. The hangman noose’s emergence as a racist symbol is relatively recent. It began with articles, published mostly in scholarly journals, about Billie Holiday’s song, “Strange Fruit.” Most Americans don’t read these publications. Hollywood has conditioned them to equate hangman nooses with Old West cattle rustlers and outlaws. This explains the sudden rash of copycat noose hangings. No one every thought of it before. It also explains the sudden rush to remove hangman nooses from Halloween displays; no one regarded them as racist before. Until the Jena Six incident, people equated burning crosses, not hangman nooses, with racial injustice.”

    because it’s not really making it as parody. and nobody can seriously be so ignorant as to be offering it as believable! tell me it aint so, say its a joke, please.

  3. Gravatar Icon yave begnet Oct 16th, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    What what? Nooses not racist? Somebody should have told all the people who got lynched in the South that their murderers, in stringing them up, were really making a statement about “Old West cattle rustlers and outlaws.”

    Also, nice post.

  4. Gravatar Icon Blair Oct 17th, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    My home town had a hanging tree but the only person who ever hung from it was a white man who chopped up his family with an ex. Most Americans do not consider hangmen nooses as racist symbols, or at least they didn’t until the Jena Six incident made headlines. The hangman noose has been a symbol of dread and foreboding since the Middle Ages. One of the cards you don’t want to draw from a deck of Tarot Cards is the Hanged Man. Halloween Magazine even has instructions for tying hangman nooses at http://www.halloween-online.com/sfx/halloween-projects-skeleton-hanged-man.html. A noose is a racist symbol in some situations, but not in others. The hunt for nooses is turning into a witch hunt. Today, the U.S. Army announced it was closing its investigation into a noose hanging incident at Anniston Army Depot. The noose turned out to be a tie-down that had fallen from one of the trucks delivering material to the post.

    A third of those lynched during the lynch law era were white. This means, of course, that two-thirds of the victims were black, which is way out of proportion, but its not just a Southern thing. During the Civil War, hundreds of free blacks were lynched during the draft riots in New York City. Today, most of the copycat noose hanging incidents are taking place outside the South. Still, the hangman noose in itself is not exclusively a racist symbol, as is a burning cross or the initials, KKK. Throughout the West, hangman nooses and lynchings are connected with cattle rustlers. Coroners ruled that the victims died of such things as respiratory failure, neck disorders and hemp fever.

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