A protest against perceived injustice in a southern US town has brought tensions over racial equality in America to the surface again. Tens of thousands of people from across the country took part in the rally in Jena calling for the release of six black teenagers charged with beating a white schoolmate. It stems from an incident last year when, it is alleged, white students hung nooses from a tree to intimidate black pupils.
Hostility intensified over several months and culminated in the attack of which the six teenagers have been accused. The case has reignited a national debate about civil rights, just as those of Rodney King and OJ Simpson did in the 1990s. Veteran campaigner Jesse Jackson said the events in Jena are a throwback to another era: “In 1957 it was the fight for de-segregation, Selma was about the right to vote. Today it’s about a fair criminal justice system,” he said.
With the Louisana town now coast-to-coast news there have been smaller support rallies in New York and Washington. Even Democrat presidential hopefuls, Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama and John Edwards have weighed in urging justice in the case.