September 18, 2007
Thousands of protesters are expected in the small town of Jena, Louisiana on Thursday for a huge rally. Among those protestors will be a group of University of Virginia students.
Anywhere from 15 to 48 students will pack vans on Wednesday and leave Grounds headed for Jena. They are rallying in support of six black Louisiana students who they feel are victims of racial injustice.
First year UVa student Nureya Anthony is organizing the trip. She says, "I was like we have to do something and I started emailing people about it."
The result: van loads of students will leave Uva Wednesday at 8PM from the office of African American Affairs. The students will drive to Jena and participate in a silent protest there on Thursday morning.
"We are going to support the attempts to rectify what has gone wrong," said Uva third year student LaQuisha Banks.
In Jena, Louisiana six African American teens, The Jena 6, were accused of attacking their white classmate last year. Tensions had rose over who could stand under a school tree and later several nooses were hung under the tree, which brought the conflict to blows. The Jena 6 were originally charged with attempted murder.
"For a school fight you shouldn't have 20 to life," said Anthony.
The case sparked a legal battle that captured national attention and has many saying the black students are being treated more harshly than whites.
"Weeks before white teenagers had beat up on the black kids, but none of them were arrested," recalled Banks.
Last week, charges against one of the six were reduced.
By marching in protest, the Uva students hope they can spark a dialogue and help affect the outcome for the other five students.
"We are joining together to tell people this can't happen," said Anthony. "Even though we are in Virginia and you are in Louisiana, we want to you know that we don't support injustice either," said Banks.
The UVa students organizing the trip to Jena say right now, only 15 students are confirmed going. They are hoping to fill the vans, with 48 people.
For more information, call Nureya Anthony at 443-745-7866.