SIUC Students March for Jena 6 - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Carbondale, IL

SIUC Students March for Jena 6

SIUC Students March for Jena 6
By: Carly O'Keefe

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Dozens of students and folks from the community gathered Thursday evening on the Southern Illinois University campus in support of six African-American high school students from Jena, Louisiana charged with attempted murder for allegedly beating a white classmate.

The march began at Hiram Lesar Law School and ended on the steps of Shryock Auditorium. Marchers carried signs that said things 'no more hate' and 'Free Jena 6.'  The meaning of the rally was not to defend the actions of six boys from Jena, Louisiana, but rather to protest what many believe to be an unjust justice system.

"We do not condone violence and we don't want violence, but at the same time we want punishment that is commiserate with the crime," said organizer Melodi Green of the SIUC Black Law Student Association.

Most of the folks marching weren't even born during the civil rights era, but view what's going on in Jena as being far from the equality that their parents and grandparents fought for.

"It's a slap in the face to my ancestors and your ancestors who took the time and spent their lives fighting the Civil Rights movement, and I feel this day in age a noose hanging from a tree is not a prank.  It's not a harmless thing," said Green.

"Young leaders and students across the country are saying hey, we have to do something about the justice system that is not yet fair even though we have won the right to have equal rights under the law," said organizer Kouri Marshall of the SIUC chapter of Generation Change, Inc.

The students also circulated a petition in hopes of getting 600 signatures, 100 for each of the Jena 6 boys, to mail to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and District Attorney J. Reed Walters in protest of filing attempted murder charges for what some call "a school yard fight" and failing to prosecuting those responsible for hanging nooses from a school yard tree.

"It's not just what people are doing in Louisiana, it's what you do when people aren't watching.  We're at Carbondale at SIUC.  We're doing our part," said Green.

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