Thursday, September 27, 2007

Good News For Mychal Bell (For Now)...and the Tale of the Stubborn Attorney


By DOUG SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer

A black teenager whose prosecution in the beating of a white classmate prompted a massive civil rights protest here walked out of a courthouse Thursday after a judge ordered him freed.

Mychal Bell's release on $45,000 bail came hours after a prosecutor confirmed he would no longer seek an adult trial for the 17-year-old. Bell, one of the teenagers known as the Jena Six, still faces trial as a juvenile in the December beating in this small central Louisiana town.

"We still have mountains to climb, but at least this is closer to an even playing field," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who helped organize last week's protest.

"He goes home because a lot of people left their home and stood up for him," Sharpton said as Bell stood smiling next to him.

"There's only one person who could have brought me through this and that's the good Lord," Bell told reporters later in front of his father's house.

District Attorney Reed Walters' decision to abandon adult charges means that Bell, who had faced a maximum of 15 years in prison on his aggravated second-degree battery conviction last month, instead could be held only until he turns 21 if he is found guilty in juvenile court.

The conviction in adult court was thrown out this month by the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, which said Bell should not have been tried as an adult on that particular charge.

Walters had said he would appeal that decision. On Thursday, he said he still believes there was legal merit to trying Bell as an adult but decided it was in the best interest of the victim, Justin Barker, and his family to let the juvenile court handle the case.

"They are on board with what I decided," Walters said at a news conference.

Bell faces juvenile court charges of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit that crime.

He is among six black Jena High School students arrested in December after a beating that left Barker unconscious and bloody, though the victim was able to attend a school function later that day. Four of the defendants were 17 at the time, which made them adults under Louisiana law.

Those four and Bell, who was 16, all were initially charged with attempted murder. Walters has said he sought to have Bell tried as an adult because he already had a criminal record, and because he believed Bell instigated the attack.

The charges have been dropped to aggravated second-degree battery in four of the cases. One defendant has yet to be arraigned. The sixth defendant's case is sealed in juvenile court.

Bell's lawyer, Carol Powell Lexing, said his next hearing is set for Tuesday.

Critics accuse Walters, who is white, of prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites. They note that he filed no charges against three white teens suspended from the high school over allegations they hung nooses in a tree on campus not long before fights between blacks and whites, including the attack on Barker.

An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 protesters marched in Jena last week in a scene that evoked the early years of the civil rights movement.

Walters said the demonstration had no influence on his decision not to press the adult charges, and ended his news conference by saying that only God kept the protest peaceful.

"The only way — let me stress that — the only way that I believe that me or this community has been able to endure the trauma that has been thrust upon us is through the prayers of the Christian people who have sent them up in this community," Walters said.

"I firmly believe and am confident of the fact that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened. You can quote me on that."

The Rev. Donald Sibley, a black Jena pastor, called it a "shame" that Walters credited divine intervention for the protesters acting responsibly.

"What I'm saying is, the Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people, and they responded accordingly," Walters responded.

After the news conference, Sibley told CNN that Walters had insulted the protesters by making a false separation between "his Christ and our Christ."

"For him to use it in the sense that because his Christ, his Jesus, because he prayed, because of his police, that everything was peaceful and was decent and in order — that's not the truth," Sibley said.

Walters has said repeatedly that Barker's suffering has been lost in the furor over the case, and that what happened to the teen was much more severe than a schoolyard fight.

Walters also has defended his decision not to seek charges in the hanging of the nooses, which he said was "abhorrent and stupid" but not a crime.

Now playing: Jill Scott - Come See Me
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What Does the Village Say?

Mos Def Expresses Outrage at Lack of Support for the “Jena 6”

Mos Def, who is currently in Jena, Louisiana for the rally in support of the “Jena 6,” is not happy with the response the Hip-Hop community has shown over the incident. Speaking to MTV News from Jena, Mos criticized his fellow artists, whom he noted seem to have no problem showing up at parties and award shows, for not traveling to Jena for the rally. “Shame on everybody who’s not here,” the rapper told MTV News. “I’m fuckin’ mad. I’m disappointed to always be coming to these things and it’s only one or two people [from the industry here]. If you ain’t gonna use your voice, then be quiet. I’m disappointed and ashamed.” Mos recently called upon his peers and any “influential African-Americans” to join him at the rally. Also in Jena this week is Port Arthur, TX native and UGK group member Bun B, who jumped in his car and drove over when he heard about the demonstration. “I grew up right next to a town where it’s strictly white people,” Bun explained. “I’ve been privy to these small incidents of violence in these all-white towns. We were blessed to find out about the Jena Six and were blessed to try to make some type of impact in this community before things went too far.”

I reserve my thoughts on this article for the moment...what are yours?

Article reference: XXL Magazine

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Penning Pain

My home is still Jim Crow's plantation. Louisiana still has an old guard who influence the young through racist rhetoric and fear factor thought. Every hateful and misguided view that a mind can imagine is being tossed around the family in far too many households in my home state. Leave aside the Beverly Hillbillies imagery; some of the worst hatemongers in Louisiana wear designer clothing, live in twenty-room mansions, and manipulate government action from the garden patios of spacious bayou-wrapped yards. The scenery has changed over the years, but the hate and the wrong still remain. Six children are living a lesson in the hypocrisy of the technical age: intellectual and technological advancements abound, but racial hate and discrimination are alive and well.

I am crying inside.

I am praying for my people.

I am Black and proud.

I am scared for the children--those six young souls.

I am exorcising the demons of a lifelong battle with hate that started in kindergarten.

Praying for justice and holding a scream of anger inside my lungs, I am TIRED of the injustice. I want that Lady Justice to take her thumb off those scales and to leave that blindfold in place. Free the Jena 6. Let real justice prevail.

Now playing: lessondaryradio - Lessondary Radio Episode 1
via FoxyTunes

Friday, September 14, 2007

Happily Kind of BLU...

I'm thinking about my grandmother now sitting in Heaven and hoping that I sit beside her one day, and I want to listen to some musical poetry. This young fellow Blu is an MC who calls the pretty/ugly city of Los Angeles his home and inspiration. Waxing philosophically about the city's contrasts and flexing lyrical muscle over the beat's pulse and flow (beat by LA producer Exile), he says some imaginative things. Here--let's listen together--then tell me what you think.

Friday, September 7, 2007

One of My New Favorites

The Sojourner puts it DOWN! I just checked out a poem on his page that woke me from writer's slump! Check it out!

Now playing: community - Decay - Soul Blast
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: community - Decay - Soul Blast
via FoxyTunes

Brand NEW Brand New Funk

I hear heads asking the occasional question, "What ever happened to DJ Jazzy Jeff after Will Smith went Hollywood?" I'm glad to know that the answer is easily found in Philadelphia. Jazzy and his Hidden Beach label have been doing some great projects above the radar (can you say JILL SCOTT?) and below it (mixtapes, club performances, and more jobs than a Jamaican on IN LIVING COLOR). The jury is still out discussing this recent video I found online--I don't feel very comfortable with this version of the old song--but the jury is NOT the authority I seek to question right now. What do you think about it?

Now playing: community - Decay - Soul Blast
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Makes me
The focus
Of a scratched lens.
Causes my heart
A wealth of poverty.
Rips holes
In my freedom's ties.
Kills my drive
And mothers my death.
Is their
Such fucked up kids
They are...

Monday, September 3, 2007

Music...Offbeat Yet On Time

I like offbeat artists who take risks and project good vibes in their projects. Singer Georgia Anne Muldrow, rapper Dudley Perkins, and DJ 2Tall have a small work circulating around the West Coast that is weird, sloppy funk (think Sly and the Family or Uncle Funkenstein--music lovers, you know the vibe) that is probably more suited to a natural pharmacology session (think about it) than it is for a freeway drive. Still, it IS good music.

Sample a little of it:

Now playing: Pharaohe Monch - No Mercy feat. M.O.P.
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Family Greatness!

I'm proud of my family, and I love to celebrate the good that I see in the generation behind me. This moment is dedicated to my nephew, Mr. Damon Pitts. Honestly, I won't be surprised if you know his name in a few years. Some lucky college is going to get a beast of a player! Check THIS out! GO, DEE!

Bulldogs blow out Turner
By Dave Sorter, McKinney Courier-Gazette
(Created: Saturday, September 1, 2007 3:50 AM CDT)
Senior running back Damon Pitts (21) had one of McKinney North’s all-time best first games as he compiled three touchdowns on the ground and another on an electric punt return. Keith Owens/Special to the Courier-Gazette
CARROLLTON — Damon Pitts didn’t need long to make McKinney North football fans very happy he moved in from Richardson.

The Bulldog Nation knew the senior running back was the leading rusher for Richardson last year, on a team competing in the grinding District 9-5A. But Pitts needed just 20 minutes of game time in Friday’s 49-0 victory over Carrollton R.L. Turner to score four touchdowns and show some moves that may have put to rest a lot of fears about North’s young offense.

“Nothing’s easy,” Pitts said after sandwiching rushing touchdowns of one, 14 and three yards around a highlight-reel 68-yard punt return score in both teams’ season opener at Standridge Stadium. “We were well prepared.”

“Damon looked good,” Bulldogs heads coach Shawn Pratt said. “He made some great cuts and showed good speed. I think our kids came out with good energy and good enthusiasm.”

Though Pitts is not currently North’s leading rusher — Charles Cole got the bulk of the second-half carries and outgained Pitts 75 yards to 67 — it was Pitts, the battery of quarterback Vince Stanko and receiver David Douglas, and a defense led by omnipresent linebacker Colton Floyd that had R.L. Turner shaking almost instantly.

“We just sort of self-destructed right from the start,” Lions coach Larry McBroom said. “When the other team gets the momentum that they got, it’s hard to get off the floor. We learned that we sure can’t start that poorly.”

It didn’t help that Turner (0-1) had its longest gain of the game on its third play from scrimmage, when running back Michael Jackson swept right for 13 yards and a first down. The stage was set when Jackson fumbled on the next play and McKinney North’s (1-0) Kris Williams recovered it on the Turner 40.

Almost all of North’s snaps came in Lions territory. The Bulldogs snapped the ball only six times on their side of the 50, just one of those in the first half.

After Williams’ recovery, Douglas took an end around, then cut back to where he came from to gain 29 yards. Two plays later, Pitts scored his first touchdown as a Bulldog.

His second one came little more than a minute later. Steven Meyer kicked off a high popup that a teammate recovered. Three plays later, Pitts breaks through on a trap play for a 14-yard touchdown.

Then came the shockwave. After Turner gained seven yards in six plays, Juan Santana punted to Pitts, who caught the ball at the North 32. He raced to the right sideline, put on a burst of speed and left potential tacklers flailing at him. Six and one-half minutes into the game, the score was Pitts 18, place kicker Meyer 3, everyone else 0.

Williams relieved Stanko for the first series of the second quarter, and led North on a 39-yard drive that was capped by a touchdown pass to Ty Crump. The starters then returned, and a 65-yard drive ended with Pitts’ fourth touchdown. A 28-yard touchdown pass from Stanko to Douglas with 10 seconds left in the first half — right after two consecutive illegal procedure penalties — was basically superfluous.

Pratt said this certainly was a turnaround from last week’s 49-0 scrimmage drubbing.

“Yes, they wanted to get that taste out of their mouth,” Pratt said. “We have a lot of new faces, and it showed last week. But this was a great effort by our kids.”

Lost in the offense’s big day was the shutout effort by the Bulldogs’ defense. Floyd’s named seemed to be called on two out of every three tackles, while Marquise Milord-Sims — who intercepted a pass — Jayce Boyd and Rodney Nelson also got a lot of calls.

“The coaching staff did a great job in preparing,” Pratt said. “They simplified a lot of things. But we made plenty of mistakes that we’ll have to work on.”

Turner, meanwhile, will try to gain some lessons from the defeat. Sophomore quarterback Matthew Bernal had a tough day passing, completing three of 16 attempts, though he showed good potential running the ball, with a team-high 47 yards. Defensively, Jario Garcia , Corey Hall and Denzel Green made some good stops. And Siri Tim blocked a fourth-quarter field goal attempt that would have put the score over half-a-hundred.

“We’ve got to go back and re-evaluate,” McBroom said. “Hopefully, we’ll learn a lot.”

McKinney North 49, R.L. Turner 0

at C-FB ISD’s Standridge Stadium


First Quarter

MN — Damon Pitts 1 run (Steven Meyer kick) 9:21

MN — Pitts 14 run (Meyer kick) 8:18

MN — Pitts 68 punt return (Meyer kick) 5:34

Second Quarter

MN — Ty Crump 13 pass from Kris Williams (Meyer kick) 9:42

MN — Pitts 3 run (Meyer kick) 4:10

MN — David Douglas 28 pass from Vince Stanko (Meyer kick) 0:10

Third quarter

MN — Josh Matthews 3 run (Meyer kick) 2:23

Fourth quarter


Team Statistics MN RLT

First downs 25 7

Rushes-yards 47-252 30-77

Passing yards 115 26

Total yards 367 103

Passing 10-16-0 3-16-1

Punts-avg. 1-23.0 3-35.0

Fumbles-lost 1-1 4-1

Penalties-yards 7-60 3-25

Individual Statistics

Rushing -- MN: Charles Cole 14-75, Damon Pitts 12-67, Josh Matthews 12-52, Kris Williams 8-28, David Douglas 1-29. RLT: Matthew Bernal 17-47, Frank DuBose 4-20, Michael Jackson 4-18, Brent Bilger 4-3, Juan Santana 1-(-11).

Passing -- MN: Vince Stanko 9-14-0 102, Kris Williams 1-2-0 13. RLT: Matthew Bernal 3-16-1 26.

Receiving -- MN: David Douglas 7-71, Damon Pitts 1-20, Ty Crump 1-13, Chris Allen 1-11. RLT: Brent Bilger 1-13, Ismael Solis 1-12, Charles Moore 1-1.