The LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters agreed to a plea bargain on Monday for one of the black teenagers facing trial in the Jena Six case. With this deal, the charges against Mychal Bell, 17, will be sharply reduced. Walters dropped the conspiracy charge, and Bell pled guilty to a juvenile charge of second-degree battery for a sentence of 18 months in jail with credit for the ten months he has already served, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Bell is the first of the Jena Six students to face trial for their alleged roles in the assault of white student Justin Barker at Jena High School on Dec. 4, 2006. The attack capped months of racial tension in the town, which began after three white students hung nooses from a tree on the high school campus. School administrators treated the hanging of the nooses as a prank, and did not expel the student responsible.
Civil rights leaders asserted that the school and legal system treated the black students more harshly than the white ones. The charges against Bell and the five other black students, who became known as the “Jena Six,” drew more than 20,000 protesters to the Louisiana town in September.