From the September 27, 2007 issue
By Meg Rowley
On September 20th, the Black and LatinoStudent Union (BLSU) at Siena held a demonstration in response to the Jena 6 incident. The demonstration took place Thursday and Friday last week in the Academic quad, and it requested people to wear the colors green or black throughout the day.
Jena 6 is a racial incident that occurred in Jena, a rural town in Louisiana last September. A black student asked to sit underneath a tree at his high school that white students usually sat under. The black student was told he could sit where he liked and proceeded to sit under the tree. The next day three nooses hung from the tree. Three white students were found responsible for hanging the nooses, and the students that hung the nooses were given a three day suspension.
Racial tensions increased throughout the school year at Jena High School, and on December 4, 2006, a fight broke out in the school. A white student, who was allegedly taunting the black students, was knocked to the floor and later taken to the hospital. He was released from the hospital later that night.
All six of the black students involved in the incident, were arrested and charged with attempted murder. The trial for one of the black students, Mychal Bell, was last Thursday, September 20th. In support of his situation, Siena’s BLSU gathered together to raise awareness.
“It all started in a discussion group. We started talking about the Jena 6 incident and most people didn’t know what the event was. We figured that most people on campus wouldn’t know about the incident either,” said Candace Dobbs, secretary for the BLSU.
Tajra Daniel’s, Vice Secretary for the BLSU, says that the idea for the protest came after Facebook began sending out notifications that people should wear the colors green or black on the day of Mychal Bells’ trial to “symbolize growth and the suppressing of hate”.
Tajra and Candace both say that they are pleased with the outcome of the protest. Members of the Black and Latino Student Union came to the event, and many people wore the colors black or green during the day.
Five out of the six students of the Jena 6 still have to be tried, and Candace and Tajra hope that in the future the Siena community can have an open discussion about the event.
“The whole point of the protest is for people to realize what is going on in the world around them,” says Candace. “As a college student, you tend to focus on what is just happening on campus. The whole point is to bring awareness to students about things that are going on outside of our community.”