JENA, La. - A white supremacist group will be allowed to hold a rally here on Martin Luther King Day without posting a $10,000 bond after a federal judge questioned the constitutionality of the law requiring the bond, officials said Friday.
The Nationalist Movement, based in Learned, Miss., wants to protest a march held last September to support the Jena 6, a group of black teenagers charged in the beating of a white schoolmate on Dec. 4, 2006, as he walked out of Jena High School's gym headed to a class.
The September rally drew thousands in support of the teenagers.
The predominantly white town of about 3,000 in central Louisiana wanted the Nationalist Movement, which calls itself a "pro-majority" group, to post the bond and meet other restrictions ahead of its requested Jan. 21 rally.
The group challenged the ordinance in federal court and a judge indicated during pre-trial conferences that the city ordinance was constitutionally "faulty," Mayor Murphy R. McMillin said.
Town counsel Walter E. Dorroh Jr. said the ordinance "puts an undue burden on the First Amendment Rights of indigent persons, and indigent organizations, such as the Nationalist Movement."
Towns are permitted to have ordinances for groups wanting to protest or march, Dorroh said. If they require a bond, however, it must have a provision to set it aside for indigent groups or have an appeal process, Dorroh said. Jena's ordinance did not, he said.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have called on Gov. Kathleen Blanco to pardon Mychal Bell and the five other teenagers known as the "Jena 6." Bell, 17, was sentenced to 18 months in a juvenile facility on Dec. 3 for his role in the assault. He is serving a separate 18-month sentence for previous juvenile charges unrelated to the Barker dispute.
Charges against the others are pending.