House Panel Weighs Jena Six Case

CAPITOL HILL (AP) - Democratic lawmakers say the Jena Six case shows the government needs to do more to fight racism.

Charges filed against six black teenagers after a school fight in a small Louisiana town have drawn national attention. The fight happened after nooses were hung from a tree on a high school campus.

Donald Washington, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, told the committee the Department of Justice has opened
investigations into noose-hanging incidents in five states.

He called the noose "a powerful symbol of hate and racially motivated
violence," adding that it can be the basis for prosecution.

In the Jena case, however, Washington said officials didn't prosecute because the white students who hung the nooses were juveniles.

That drew a rebuke from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. The Texas Democrat said the federal government has been failing to fully enforce civil rights laws for years, adding "shame on you."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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