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Jena mayor calls song inflammatory

JENA, La. – A video in which rapper-actor Mos Def asked students around the country to walk out Oct. 1 to support the “Jena Six” escaped comment by this town’s mayor. But when John Mellencamp sang, “Jena, take your nooses down,” he took issue.

“The town of Jena has for months been mischaracterized in the media and portrayed as the epicenter of hatred, racism and a place where justice is denied,” Jena Mayor Murphy R. McMillin wrote in a statement on town letterhead faxed on Friday to The Associated Press.

mel.jpgHe said he had previously stayed quiet, hoping that the town’s courtesy to people who have visited over the past year would speak for itself. “However, the Mellencamp video is so inflammatory, so defamatory, that a line has been crossed and enough is enough.”

Mellencamp could not comment immediately because he was on a plane from California to Indiana and had not heard about McMillin’s comments, publicist Bob Merlis said late Friday.

Mellencamp’s song opens, “An all-white jury hides the executioner’s face; See how we are, me and you?” As he sings, images of Jena, the high school and the tree are followed by video from the 1960s, including civil rights marchers, police beatings, and President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King speaking. Still images include one of a protest sign reading, “God demands segregation,” a stylized drawing of people in Ku Klux Klan robes and an older image of a black man in shackles, begging.

“I do not want to diminish the impression that the hanging of the nooses has had on good people,” McMillin wrote. “I do recognized that what happened is insulting and hurtful.”

But, he said, “To put the incident in Jena in the same league as those who were murdered in the 1960s cheapens their sacrifice and insults their memory.”

At McMillin’s request, the Jena Town Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to create an interracial committee to study racial relations and suggest solutions to any problems.

Source: YN

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