We the undersigned members of the sports community call for the egregiously punitive criminal charges to be dropped against Mychal Bell, Carwin Jones, Theo Shaw, Robert Bailey Jr, Bryant Purvis and Jesse Beard, also known as the Jena 6. We don’t call for this because all six young men are accomplished athletes in their own right, but because this case is drenched of the worst double standards and excesses of the criminal justice system.

The story by now has become well known. It started in September 2006 at Jena High School in Central Louisiana, where three lynching nooses were hung from a tree after black students dared sit underneath what was known as “the white tree.”

Tensions escalated over the course of the semester with resulted in several altercations. Last December six African American students were involved in a school fight in which a white student suffered a concussion — but was able to attend a school function that same evening. They were subsequently charged with attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy, charges that would put them in jail for a combined 100 years without parole. The Jena 6 range in ages from 15-17.

One of the Jena 6, Mychal Bell was found guilty in less than two days by an all-white jury. He was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy charges and faced up to 22 years in prison. His original sentence has since been thrown out, ruled unconstitutional since he was tried as an adult. Recently, the prosecution has announced that charges against Shaw and Jones have been reduced and we are grateful that Mychal Bell’s initial conviction was dismissed. That is precisely why now is the time to keep up the pressure and get all of these ridiculously punitive charges dismissed as well. We stand with the thousands around the country who marched on September 20th to just say no to double-standards and racism in the criminal justice system.

Sincerely,

Etan THOMAS
Washington Wizards
Author More Than an Athlete

Joakim NOAH
Chicago Bulls
Final 4 MOP 2006

Scott FUJITA
New Orleans Saints

Troy VINCENT
Former NFL All-Pro,
President NFLPA

Billy HUNTER
President NBA Players Association

Doug CHRISTIE
14 year NBA Vet
Author No Ordinary Love

John AMAECHI
Former NBA Player
Author Man in the Middle

Anthony PRIOR
Former NFL Player
Author Slave Side of Sunday

Jeff “Snowman” MONSON
Ultimate Fighting Championship

Dr. John CARLOS
1968 Olympic Bronze Medalist
of the immortal Black Power Salute
Olympic Project for Human Rights

Lee EVANS
1968 Olympic Gold Medalist
Olympic Project for Human Rights

Eddie Mustafa MUHAMMAD
Former Light Heavyweight Champion
J.A.B.

Jim BOUTON
Former New York Yankee
Author Ball Four

David MEGGYESY
Former NFL Linebacker
Author Out of Their League

Toni SMITH
Former member of Manhattanville College Women’s Basketball Team
Famous for her 2003 on-court stand at the start of the Iraq War

Dennis BRUTUS
Former Director of SANROC (the South African Non Racialist Olympic Committee)
Professor emeritus Africana studies, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Phillip SHINNICK
Former world record holder in long jump,
Ambassador of UNESCO, US Olympian

Jemele HILL
Columnist ESPN.com

Scoop JACKSON
Columnist ESPN.com

Lang WHITAKER
Executive Editor
SLAM Magazine

Ben OSBORNE
Editor in Chief
SLAM Magazine

Khalid SALAAM
Senior Editor
SLAM Magazine

Lester RODNEY
Oldest Living Sportswriter
Sports Editor
Daily Worker, 1936-1958

Michael TILLERY
Co-Founder and Writer
The Starting Five and SLAM Magazine Contributor

D.K. WILSON
Writer: The Starting Five,
Counterpunch Political Newsletter
The Chicago Sports Review

Dave ZIRIN
Writer: The Nation
SLAM Magazine,
Author Welcome to the Terrordome