ADL Offers Resources As House Judiciary Committee Studies Racial Tensions In Jena, Louisiana
New York, NY, October 16, 2007 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged Congress to increase the federal commitment to anti-bias education initiatives as the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on "Jena 6 and the Role of Federal Intervention in Hate Crimes and Race-Related Violence in Public Schools." The League's statement outlined relevant legal and legislative responses to the community tensions in Jena, described how extremists have tried to exploit the situation, and outlined the need for more anti-bias intervention and long-term programmatic initiatives.
ADL has closely followed the situation at Jena High School and in the Jena community over the past several months. The League has expressed deep concern about the racial tensions in the community, the allegations of unfair treatment between black and white students, and the allegations of racial disparity in the subsequent criminal charges filed against six black students. ADL representatives have offered to meet with school leaders to discuss ways in which the League might be able to assist the school in constructively moving forward as a community.
Highlights from the ADL's statement (.pdf), submitted as part of the Committee record, include:
• The inadequate response to the intimidating tactics and escalating violence in Jena provides lessons for school administrators and community leaders on the need to confront racial and ethnic tensions directly and constructively – and to defuse them before they can lead to confrontations and reprisals.
• ADL believes the situation in Jena – and the copycat incidents that followed – demonstrate the need for education, so that our young people have a deeper understanding of the consequences of unchecked racism, bigotry and hate.
• White supremacists have reacted to the national attention focused on the Jena 6 with racist language and a call for violent action and intimidation tactics.
• Criminal behavior and violence is very rarely the beginning – it frequently occurs at the end of an escalating pattern of unresolved incidents. Because of this fact, teachers, school administrators, parents, community-based organizations and government officials and policymakers must ensure that we are doing everything possible to interrupt this dangerous evolution, to recognize early warning signals, and to intervene before violence erupts.
• Schools have the power – and the responsibility – to equip students with the skills and knowledge to be successful in our increasingly diverse society and to make that society a place where the ideals of equity and democracy are embodied in the social order.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.