Andrea Egypt at MECAWI forum to Free the Jena 6 on Sept. 19, 2007. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe).
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
MECAWI hosts public meeting; demo at the federal bldg.
by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire
DETROIT, 20 Sept., 2007 (PANW)--While tens of thousands of people made passage to and gathered in Jena, Louisiana on Thursday, in the city of Detroit activists expressed their solidarity with the struggle to free six African-American teenagers framed in a racially-charged assault case.
In Detroit, the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) hosted a public meeting that drew dozens of young people many of whom were from the African-American community. The event was called at the same time as the weekly MECAWI meeting at their offices located near Wayne State University.
This event, which was co-chaired by Andrea Egypt of MECAWI, featured several speakers from MECAWI and other community organizations. These speakers included: Judge Deborah Thomas of Wayne County Circuit Court, currently in a battle to halt efforts aimed at limiting her authority as a jurist; Judith Thompson of MECAWI who spoke on the post-Katrina crisis in Louisiana and the Gulf region; Kevin Carey of MECAWI, who discussed the plight of prisoners in Michigan and political prisoners throughout the United States; Sue Pacquin of MECAWI made a call to action saying that "we have to take this to the streets;" and Min. Malik Shabazz of the New Marcus Garvey Movement closed out the event.
Just earlier in the day, three bus loads of youth, labor and community organizers set out for Jena and later would join tens of thousands of other activists from Louisiana and throughout the country in an act of mass solidarity with what most people within the African-American community considers a travesty of justice.
At the MECAWI meeting, co-chair Andrea Egypt began the meeting with a background report on the Jena 6. "These young people were wrongfully prosecuted, tried as adults and denied due process of law."
In illustrating the disperate treatment, Egypt pointed out that "the white students only received minor reprimands while the African-Americans were charged with serious felonies and placed under high bonds."
Other speakers at the MECAWI meeting placed the events in Jena within a national context. The rise in racist violence an intolerance has also been illustrated with the attacks on New York Attorney Michael Tarif Warren, the recent arrests and charging of the San Francisco 8, and the failed efforts by the Taylor, Michigan police to frame two African-American college students in the murder of a white resident of that Detroit suburb.
MECAWI speakers emphasized the need to build an anti-racist movement in the United States. Plans are underway to take sound cars into the community providing avenues for people to voice their feelings and thoughts about recent developments involving the war in Iraq, the situation in Jena and issues within their own local communities.
On Thursday, members of the Detroit community attended a rally at the McNamara Federal building downtown. This gathering drew over 300 people and was hosted by Min. Malik Shabazz of the New Marcus Garvey Movement.
Other speakers included City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, and a representative from the offices of City Councilman Kwame Kenyatta.