Life after Jena 6 case; one member speaks out

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MONROE, La (KNOE 8 News)- We are looking back at a story that rocked the nation 10 years ago.

Back in 2006, a black student at Jena High School asked the principal if he could sit under a tree on the school grounds where white students normally sat.

The next day when the students showed up for school three nooses were hanging in the tree.

As racial tension tightened over the next few months fights broke out at the school.

On December 4, 2006, a white student was beaten and hospitalized. Days later six black students were arrested. They became known as the Jena 6.

All were charged with second degree attempted murder, fanning the flames of racial tensions in Jena; which lead to one of the largest racial protests in decades.

Now one of the Jena 6 members is speaking out.

Bryant Purvis remembers December 4, 2006 like it was yesterday.

"And that's when I heard bow like a loud hit like bow and then I turned around and everybody was rushing to that scene down there. I jumped on top to see what happened and look over and I saw Justin laying there and then the teachers told everybody to just leave," says Purvis.

He says he was arrested the next day on attempted murder charges, which were later dropped to simple battery.

"Yeah they dropped the charges down but they still pulled the wool over our eyes now it's still haunting us to this day," says Purvis.

From applying to jobs to finding places to live, Purvis says being a member of the Jena 6 is still following him even after he left Jena so many years ago.

"I want to regain from my freedom from that, I want to live a normal life, I want to be able to go to work take care of my family and be a father to my son that's what I want to be it's not about a race it's not about black and white," says Purvis.

It's been ten years and Purvis says even though he hasn't reached out to Justin Barker, who was beat up and hospitalized, he has this to say to him.

"I would just apologize to him for what his family had to go through cause mine had to go through so much throughout this case with the death threats and relocation," says Purvis.

He says this case is not about black or white to him, but what's right and wrong. He hopes to get the truth out about what happened that day through his book called "My Story as a Jena 6".