I stood in full support of the thousands of civil demonstrators who converged on Jena, Louisiana today to protest a series of incidents stemming from several nooses that were hung from a tree at a local high school. That incident sparked a fight that resulted in the arrest of six African American students.

I am shocked and outraged at the harsh treatment and unfair charges handed out to the six Black students involved in the fight, who are now known as the Jena 6. The plight of the Jena 6 is nothing more than a modern day perversion of justice and sad wake up call for today’s youth about the underside of American justice. This horrible display of racism and intolerance in Jena, Louisiana should be a wake up call for all who believe that the struggle against institutionalized racism is over.

Although I could not attend the rally because of my congressional duties, my prayers are with Mychal Bell, Robert Bailey, Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, and Jesse Beard. We must remain vigilant against this injustice until all charges against all six students are dropped, and that includes the immediate release of Mychal Bell.