JENA, LOUISIANA— The thousands of protestors and cries of “Free Mychal Bell” that flooded the streets of Jena, Louisiana, yesterday were not enough to move a judge to free him on bond today. Supporters waiting outside the LaSalle Parish Courthouse this afternoon during a bond hearing were hopeful that he would be released, but bond was denied and Bell remains in prison. He has been held in an adult prison for ten months. An appeals court ordered the hearing yesterday on the heels of a massive protest by thousands of people from around the country who rallied and marched for Bell’s release in the tiny rural town.
An appeals court ordered the hearing yesterday, immediately on the heels of a massive protest by thousands of visitors from around the country, who rallied and marched for Bell’s release in the tiny rural town.
“It’s absolutely atrocious,” said Shanon S., 23, of New York, who attended the rally in Jena yesterday. “We came down here hoping for the best, hoping that 50,000 people would have made some kind of impact and made the judges think or feel something. The fact that we didn’t get Mychal Bell out shows how set in their ways they are.”
“I think we have to come back with a different approach,” said Douglass Wallace, 42, who drove to Jena from Orlando, Florida. “Maybe we should sit-in and camp out until they do something about it. The march was good, but we have to take an even bigger stance.”
Bell is one of six Black teenagers facing decades behind bars for allegedly beating a White classmate last December. In June he was tried and convicted of aggravated assault and conspiracy by an all-White jury, but last Friday his conviction was overturned on the grounds that he had been improperly tried as an adult. District Attorney Reed Walters will refile the charges in juvenile court. Despite the conviction being overturned, however, Bell remains in prison.
“I’m disappointed,” said Curis Moore, 40, of Orlando. “Why would they want to continue to hold him after they already dropped the adult charges? So many things in this case were done wrong, which is all the more reason why they should release this young man and let him get his life back.”
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