WaPo Misleads on Jena Six

Here’s how the Washington Post edited the AP wire report on yesterday’s rulings in the Jena Six case for its Nation in Brief section:

JENA, La. — Prosecutors on Tuesday reduced the attempted-murder charges against two more teenagers among the “Jena Six,” a group of black high school students who were arrested after an attack on a white schoolmate.

Five of the teenagers were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, carrying sentences of as much as 80 years in prison. The sixth faces undisclosed juvenile charges.

Civil rights advocates have decried the charges as unfairly harsh.

Charges against Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy. That same reduction was made earlier for Mychal Bell, who was tried and found guilty and could be sentenced to 15 years in prison at a hearing on Sept. 20.

On Tuesday, Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. threw out Bell’s conspiracy conviction, granting a defense motion that Bell’s June trial should have been conducted as a juvenile proceeding. He let the battery conviction stand.

Also awaiting trial are Robert Bailey Jr. and Bryant Purvis, who still face attempted-murder charges, and the unidentified juvenile.

The attack on Justin Barker, 18, came amid tense race relations in Jena, a mostly white town of 3,000 in north-central Louisiana.

Amazing. If this were your introduction to the case, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the thousands of civil rights activists who are about to descend on Jena to protest Bell’s sentencing are up in arms merely because the sentences were so harsh. (FYI, when the author of this article explains that the attack came “amid tense race relations,” he or she may have been referring to the nooses that were found hanging from a “whites-only” tree on school grounds.)

For contrast, take a look at how the Times of London structured its piece on yesterday’s developments. A rather different perspective, indeed.


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