Two of the teens enmeshed in the nationally known “Jena Six” case helped present the most anticipated award during Black Entertainment Television’s Hip Hop Awards show broadcast Thursday night.
Carwin Jones and Bryant Purvis were introduced by Katt Williams, a comedian and the awards show’s host, as two of the students involved in a case of “systematic racism.”
“By no means are we condoning a six-on-one beat-down,” Williams said during his introduction of the teens, one of whom is still facing attempted murder charges in connection with the attack on white student Justin Barker. “But the injustice perpetrated on these young men is straight criminal.”
As Jones and Purvis walked onto the stage at the Atlanta Civic Center, where the awards show was filmed on Saturday, they were greeted by a standing ovation.
“They don’t look so tough, do they?” Williams joked as the teens stepped up to the podium.
Both Jones and Purvis thanked a number of people, including family, friends, the “Hip-Hop Nation” and the thousands who came to their small hometown to rally behind their case.
Purvis said the Sept. 20 rally proved “our generation can unite and rally around a cause.”
The teens assisted Williams in presenting the Video of the Year honor to Kanye West for “Stronger.” Purvis handed the award to West, who in turn shook hands with both teens.
‘Should be humbled’
Some have been critical of the appearance, saying the teens—accused of knocking Barker unconscious and then stomping and kicking on him until another student intervened—shouldn’t be made out to be celebrities. Barker was treated at a local emergency room for close to three hours and then released.
“If anything, they should be humbled and go home and not be trying to get celebrity status off a tragedy,” one person wrote on a BET blog post.
Also attending the show was Mychal Bell’s father, Marcus Jones; Carwin Jones’ parents, John Jenkins and Dwanda Jones; and Theo McCoy, the father of Theo Shaw, another defendant.
Court allowed the trip
“They can find somebody else to march for them (be)cause I will not be there the next time, and whoever invited them to this should be slapped,” one person wrote on the BET blog. “(You’re) not setting a good example for the justice that everyone is fighting for. You look like the thugs they said the Jena 6 are. Thanks for making us look stupid!”