White School Board Member in Jena Says District Attorney Reed Walters Prevented the Board from Seeing School's Internal Investig
Thankfully, there are White residents of Jena, LA who are willing to stand up for justice. Democracy Now has spoken to residents of Jena that confirm there are White people in the town who support the Jena Six but are afraid to do so openly in fear of their safety and employment security.
One man has been willing to come forth. La Salle Parish school board member William Fowler tells Amy Goodman of Democracy Now that the lawyer representing the school administration is none other than the district attorney in charge of the case. This revelation is telling in that no DA's office anywhere in the United States would allow such a conflict of interest no matter how serious the case. The following is a brief transcript of a most shocking interview.
LaSalle Parish school board member Billy "Bulldog" Fowler reveals the school district conducted an internal investigation about the Jena Six but the school board was not allowed to review it before they voted to uphold the expulsion of the six. The school board’s lawyer was none other than the prosecuting district attorney, Reed Walters. Asked if he felt that Walters had a conflict of interest that night, Fowler replied, “Well, I’m assuming that Mr. Walters knows the law.” [includes rush transcript]
Jena, Louisiana. A year ago not many people outside of Louisiana had heard of this small town north of New Orleans. But a series of incidents over the past year has shot Jena to notoriety. It is now synonymous with a kind of racism that many hoped was a thing of the past.
It all began at the start of the school year in 2006, at a school assembly, when Justin Purvis asked if he could sit under the schoolyard tree, a privilege unofficially reserved for white students. The next morning, three nooses were hanging from its broad, leafy branches.
African American students protested, gathering under the tree. Soon after, the district attorney, Reed Walters, came to the school with the police, threatening, “I could end your lives with the stroke of a pen.” Racial tensions mounted in this 85 percent white town of 4,000. In December, a schoolyard fight erupted, and the district attorney charged six African American high school students, the soon to be dubbed Jena Six, with second-degree attempted murder. They faced 100 years in prison each. They were immediately expelled from Jena High School.
I recently visited Billy “Bulldog” Fowler in his office. He’s a white member of the La Salle Parish School Board. He explained what happened when the African American students appealed their expulsion.