Jena, Resistance and Self Defense

Photo of a lynching

One of the main implications of the case of the Jena 6 is one that has sent countless activists to prison. The implication-if you dare to remove yourself from the role of a victim and attempt to assert justice yourself, you will pay a heavy price. The notion that six young Black men responded appropriately by not allowing an environment of terror to exist in their lives and their community enrages a society that does not want to see Black people recognizing and acting on the understanding that we alone will change our conditions. This case would have made countless people considerably more comfortable if these young brothers did not engage in a physical encounter with the white student. Many would have been appeased if we as a community continue to appeal to a legal system that has made it clear that it doesn’t place much, if any value on the lives of Black people.

The Jena 6 engaged in an act of self-defense and their actions reflects our reality.  Lynching, a genocidal act that occurred with the consent of the government, has long been a part of Black Experience in North America. In a petition submitted to the United Nations in 1951, titled “We Charge Genocide,” Paul Robeson and other prominent Blacks, documented that at least 10,000 Black people had been lynched since the abolition of slavery. The exact number of people murdered can never be known. The horrendous act of lynching did not stop with the Civil Rights movement and our communities remain intimately familiar with the legacy of the noose. Countless numbers of Black people have been killed throughout recent history with the legal system failing to prevent similar cases from reoccurring.

The call for justice in this case must include the dismissal of all charges against the Jena 6 and the immediate termination of prosecutor Reed Walters. Any call for decreased charges affirms the notion that Black people can do anything to struggle against white supremacy/racism except for physically defending ourselves.

Photo of Black Panthers

Self Defense - Self Determination

Our history of struggle in North America has always had the importance of defending our lives as a fundamental pillar. The act of defending ourselves as a community has always been criminalized. This process of criminalization is an attempt to dissuade communities at large from becoming self sufficient in their own security. Former Black Panther Party member, Jalil Muntaqim stated, “We are our own Liberators” our path to liberation must be decided and executed by us in the manner that we determine. It is this act of self-determination that is considered to be the most dangerous by government officials. The legacy of the Black Liberation Movement was rooted in this ideology and was responded to viciously by all levels of law enforcement, which routinely attacked and murdered activists. Thus we have the many political prisoners and prisoners of war in the united states today. Nationally we have a responsibility to call for the freedom of all political prisoners in the united states who have been found guilty of simply defending the lives of Black people.

We are pleased to hear the many calls for people to pay attention to Jena 6s in our own towns. We must recognize that we all live in Jena. The same people who boarded buses from all corners of this country must organize against the mass criminalization of our youth, militarized law enforcement and participate in the work for self-determination and the unconditional release of the political prisoners and prisoners of war in the United States.

Self Respect, Self Defense and Self Determination

We will defend our freedom fighters

To find out how you can participate in the movement to free political prisoners, please contact: