Oakland High students show support of “Jena Six”

jena3.jpgStudents from Oakland High School and local activists held a press conference and rally at lunchtime today outside the school to voice their support for six black high school students in Louisiana who were charged last year with attempted murder for beating a white classmate.

(Ashley Rivers, an Oakland High School student, is shown here giving a statement).

I hear from Larry Felson, a teacher at Oakland High, that the chief of the school district’s police force tried to put a stop to the event, fearing a student walkout (which, Felson said, wasn’t part of the plan). It went on anyway.

The fight at Jena High School apparently started after white students hung nooses from a tree on campus. The white students involved in the racially charged conflict were not arrested, and many civil rights leaders argue that the punishments faced by the black students were grossly disproportionate.

A press release I received today from event organizers quotes Akua Jackson of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement as saying, “The racist arrest and prosecution of the Jena 6 youth resonates with the experience of being Black and young here in Oakland. Youth are unjustly targeted and incarcerated. …”

I’m still waiting for photos of the rally, which I couldn’t attend. I’ll post them once they come in.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • MR. Oakland High Teacher

    As usual, the mentioned teacher and a few other idealouges on the staff are jumping on the most recent bandwagon. Last year and the year before it was world can’t wait, students were walking the halls, oblivous to what they were ‘walking out’ for.

    The case of the so-called ‘Jena 6′ is complex and intriguing. I have little sympathy though for a student who attacked another student and continued to do so while this student was unconscious. You can bet that if it were six white students who jumped a black kid, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and everyone else would be screaming for their heads, calling it attempted murder. The attempted murder charge may have been excessive, but then again, so is kicking someone in the head while they are unconscious.

    If the teachers at Oakland High who organize these laughable protests (and yes it is laughable when the student calls the arrest of someone who willfully commited assault ‘racist.’ To be sure it’s the charges brought against the student that are the concern) were really concerned with empowering our youth, they might spend a little time actually teaching curriculum, rather than using their classrooms as public forums to spew their hollow and one-sided political agendas. Don’t believe me? why is a world language teacher showing farenheit 911 this week?

  • Larry Felson

    Once more, the oh so anonymous teacher from Oakland who likes to make fun of
    students and teachers who take up and act on their political beliefs shows his own
    jaundiced and cowardly ignorance in the face of major political issues of the day
    directly affecting high school students. This time it is the Jena 6. I wonder why Mr.
    Oakland High teacher didn’t mention the whites only tree, the nooses hung in the tree,
    the attacks on Black students (including a gun being pulled) or the upwards of 50,000
    people, including many students, who went back to protest in Jena on Sept. 20th. I guess
    if they could have only listened to Mr. Teacher they would have been better informed
    and could have stayed in their classrooms and followed the open-minded and well-rounded
    curriculum he teaches and not get involved with any nasty political stuff. We don’t want
    our students thinking too critically about what’s going on in the world or, heaven forbid,
    taking action! After all, everyone knows how ignorant our students are. They could never
    be expected to understand or oppose the bombing of innocent people, torturing people, giving up Habeas Corpus, opposing evolution, denying global warming, letting thousands of people suffer needlesslly after Katrina–Our students could never understand these things
    well as Mr. Oakland High teacher, much less stand up and by standing begin to grasp
    how possibly to change things. No, we learn only by following the curriculum–and,
    gee, what is ‘expect success’ really all about and what is the Broad foundation. Oh well,
    more of my rhetoric and secret agenda. Everything is so fine at Oakland High and in
    the world. Imagine, kids taking up political ideas. I guess I’m just a brainwasher,
    contrary to our Mr. Okland High teacher. By the way, is there some reason you won’t
    “go public?” You seem like such a superior guy who knows what’s best for our students>
    You’d think you’d want to proclaim it proudly… Larry Felson