NAACP Applauds Release Of Mychal BellDecember 31, 1969
Defendant's release is a 'partial victory' as cases continue
Today’s release of Mychal Bell by Louisiana correctional authorities provides court officials with another opportunity at fairly administering justice, say NAACP leaders. Bell was released this evening under $45,000 bond after serving more than nine months.
“The actions of Louisiana’s Governor and the state’s appellate courts along with the frank expressions of support from countless organizations and individuals have finally led to this result which only represents a partial victory,” said NAACP Interim President & CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes. “All supporters of justice must remain vigilant. Ongoing proceedings lie ahead and the NAACP remains adamant in its position that they be conducted in the proper context and with use of common sense.”
One week ago today, more than 20,000 came to Jena, La. to participate in activities seeking fairness for Bell and five other teens who have faced overly aggressive prosecution and extended incarceration for fighting with a white classmate in their community last December.
“This shows that protest is still beneficial and that hard work still pays off,” said Louisiana NAACP State Conference President Dr. Ernest Johnson. “Last week we marched for Bell’s freedom but now we must continue that effort to ensure justice for all the Jena 6.”
Yesterday, NAACP officials presented additional petitions to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen B. Blanco with 195,000 signatures symbolizing those concerned with the unequal treatment of the defendants and the disturbing climate that led to an escalation of racial tensions in the town. Further discussion with the Governor led to the District Attorney not challenging an appellate ruling that sends the case to juvenile court, helping pave the way for Bell’s release.
The NAACP will continue to urge federal intervention in the cases to ensure justice and secure the safety of the defendants’ families throughout the process.
The NAACP, in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Southern University Law Center, has provided some additional legal support and resources to the defendants’ attorneys and remains committed to the defense of the remaining young men.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.