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Shirt sale proceeds to benefit Jena 6

Tae Andrews | Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Furor over the ongoing court cases of the Jena Six has ignited racial tensions throughout the South and made headlines across the nation throughout this past year. Now the commotion has reached Notre Dame.

The Multi-Cultural Affairs Committee of Student Government, paired with the campus chapter of the NAACP, hosts a t-shirt sale tonight in the LaFortune Student Center from 7 to 10 p.m. and on Thursday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. The red with white lettering shirts will cost $10 each. The proceeds from the red-with-white-lettering t-shirts will go to support the Jena Six Legal Fund through the Color of Change, an organization which works for social justice.

The two groups started planning on selling the shirts immediately after the Jena Six trials which began in mid-September, but due to the design process and having to plan the distribution the clothing wasn’t finished until about two weeks before the fall break, prompting the Committee to delay the sale until after the recess.

“We didn’t want to have to rush it,” Lai-Nin Wan, the chair of the Multi-Cultural Affairs Committee of student government said in an interview Monday afternoon.

The committee made 120 shirts for the sale, with plans to create and sell another batch should the first run sell out. This will generate between $600 and $800 in revenue after expenses should the t-shirts sell out.

“Student Government and NAACP would like to promote tolerance that extends past race and the view of a more accepting, global community,” Wan said.

According to the New York Times, the controvery surrounds a pair of nooses draped over a tree at Jena High School in Jena, La., dating back to August of 2006. The nooses were hung over a tree known as the “White Tree,” a campus gathering spot for white youths at the high school.

Although the school administration ended up arresting three students for their involvement in the affair, the incident sparked hostilities throughout the community. Continued complaints from school parents prompted an investigation from the United States Attorney’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but neither agency pressed hate-crime charges against anyone.

In December of last year, the afore-mentioned “Jena Six” got into an altercation with a local white youth named Justin Barker and ended up beating him up. The injured Barker went to the hospital, received treatment and was later released on the same day.

Local authorities arrested the Jena Six, five of whom were then charged as adults with second-degree murder. The sixth, Mychal Bell, was originally convicted of aggravated second-degree battery charges, but was later acquitted on the grounds that he had been mistakenly tried as an adult, although a local judge refused to release him on bail.

On September 20 of this year, over 10,000 people thronged the streets of Jena, La., (population 3,000) in protest of perceived unfair treatment of the six youths.

“We’re hoping the sale will go well and sell out,” Wan said. “Since we can’t be there physically, we want to help out as much as we possibly can.”