An indie drama is in the works about the six black high school students in Louisiana who were initially charged with attempted murder in a 2006 attack on a white student. They came to be known as the “Jena 6.”
The film, titled “Jena Six,” just picked up director Roger Donaldson and will begin production in April in New Orleans, reports Variety.
In the “Jena Six” case, the attack took place several months after a series of racial incidents at the school, including three nooses hanging from a tree on the grounds one day after a black student asked the principal if black students could sit under the tree.
The victim of the attacks was treated at an emergency room for several hours and attended a high school dance that evening.
The six teenagers were arrested and one of them, Mychal Bell, was convicted by an all-white jury of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery — meaning that he faced a sentence of up to 22 years.
News of the conviction sparked outrage and allegations that the prosecution was racially motivated and disproportionate to the crime. A civil rights demonstration drew more than 15,000 protesters to Jena and was attended by Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III.
An appeals court found that Bell should not have been tried as an adult. Before his trial as a juvenile began, he agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of battery and was sentenced to 18 months with credit for time served. The other five defendants agreed to plead guilty in 2009 to a charge of simple battery and were fined $500 each.
Donaldson, whose recent credits include “November Man” and “The Bank Job,” is directing from a screenplay by Jonathan Amaret.
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