JENA, La. (AP) - Thousands of chanting demonstrators, including dozens from Alabama's nine historically black colleges, filled the streets of Jena, Louisiana, Thursday in support of six black teenagers initially charged with attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate.
The crowd broke into chants of "Free the Jena Six" as the Reverend Al Sharpton arrived at the LaSalle Parish Courthouse with family members of the jailed teens.
Martin Luther King the Third, son of the slain civil rights leader, said the scene was reminiscent of earlier civil rights struggles. He said punishment of some sort may be in order for the six defendants, but "the justice system isn't applied the same to all crimes and all people."
The six teens were charged not long after the local prosecutor declined to charge three white high school students who hung nooses
in a tree on their high school grounds.
Five of the black teens were initially charged with attempted murder, but that charge was reduced to battery for all but one, who has yet to be arraigned; the sixth teen was charged as a juvenile.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)