Jena Braces for Thousands of Protesters

Locals resent activists, fear violence; tiny LA town will shut down
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2007 7:35 AM CDT
Roy Higgins, right, and Frederick Jones carry signs in support of six black teens charged with attempted murder outside Trout Creek Baptist Church in Jena, La., Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007. The Rev. Al Sharpton...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Tiny Jena, LA, is bracing for the tens of thousands of activists expected to descend on the town of 3,000 today to protest the handling of six black high school students charged with attempted murder for beating a white classmate in December. Led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, protesters say the teens, who've become known as the "Jenna Six," were treated harshly after responding to racial taunting.

The charges were later reduced, but activists are incensed that a group of white students who triggered the conflict by hanging a noose in a tree outside the school were briefly suspended but not expelled. Residents, many of whom feel the incident has been blown out of proportion, fear the march will  produce massive disruptions and violence; schools have been closed for the day.