David Bowie lends his support to young men facing sentencing and trial in Louisiana

As thousands across the country and world turn their attention to the plight of six young men facing substantial criminal charges in Jena, La., the NAACP is pleased to report that rock legend and entertainment icon David Bowie has come forward to lend his support by making a $10,000 donation to the Jena 6 Legal Defense Fund.

Thousands are expected to converge on Jena, La. and the LaSalle Parish Courthouse on Thursday (Sept. 20) to express their dismay at the overly aggressive prosecution and extended incarceration faced by Mychal Bell, 17, who remains jailed, and five others-- Robert Bailey Jr., 17; Theo Shaw, 17; Carwin Jones, 18; Bryant Purvis, 17; and a minor--for their role in an altercation with a classmate following a series of racial incidents in the town of 3,000 after three nooses were hung in a tree at the local high school.

"There is clearly a separate and unequal judicial process going on in the town of Jena,” Bowie said. “A donation to the Jena 6 Legal Defense Fund is my small gesture indicating my belief that a wrongful charge and sentence should be prevented."

“We are gratified that rock star David Bowie was moved to donate to the NAACP’s Jena campaign,” said NAACP National Board of Directors Chairman Julian Bond. “Mr. Bowie shares our outrage. We hope others will join him.”

On Friday, Louisiana’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the aggravated battery conviction of Bell, stating that he should not have been tried and convicted as an adult for his alleged role in last year's fight.

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. NAACP officials presented petitions to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen B. Blanco yesterday (Sept. 17) at the State Capitol. The 60,000 signatures are a symbol of those concerned with the unequal treatment of the defendants and the disturbing climate that led to an escalation of events in the southern town.

David Bowie is a visionary English singer, songwriter, musician, actor, visual artist, Internet pioneer and producer. The innovative artist has won countless awards for his contributions to the entertainment industry.

Jena activity updates and information on contributing to the Jena 6 cause can be found online at www.naacp.org or by calling toll free (888) 362-8683.  

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.

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