Civil rights protesters converge on Jena

Other News Materials 21 September 2007 07:02 (UTC +04:00)

(Reuters) - Tens of thousands of black Americans descended on a small town in central Louisiana on Thursday to protest what they say is injustice against six black teen-agers charged over a high school fight.

Protesters arrived in buses and cars from cities as far away and apart as New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New Orleans for a rally in support of the " Jena 6."

The case has become a symbol for many blacks of a wider struggle against racism and perceived discrimination against black males by the criminal justice system.

"I came because enough is enough. I am tired of the way the courts have been treating African Americans historically," said Doug Martin, a computer analyst from New Orleans.

Most of the demonstrators were dressed in black. Some held banners reading "Free the Jena 6" and chanted "no justice, no peace, no racist police."

By mid-afternoon, scores of buses departed the town as protesters began long journeys home. Many said the rally, which was peaceful, gave young people a taste of the activism associated with the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s.

The Jena protest spawned rallies in New York City, where about 200 people dressed in black gathered on the steps of City Hall, and in Washington, where several hundred met across the street from the U.S. Capitol.