ABC Newsâ€™ Jonathan Greenberger Reports: At a fundraiser tonight in Atlanta, Ga., Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., expressed indignation over the plight of six black teenagers in Jena, La.
It was the first time Obama had spoken out forcefully about the teens on the campaign trail, and it came just 24 hours after reports surfaced that the Rev. Jesse Jackson had said Obama was "acting like heâ€™s white" for not doing more to publicize the situation in Jena.
"On this day when we are outraged over the disparities of treatment in the criminal justice system, in a time when in Jena we are puzzled over by how it is that a schoolyard fight gets charged with attempted murder, we wonder how it is Scooter Libby doesnâ€™t get any jailtime, and youâ€™ve got young men in a fight getting charged with attempted murder," Obama said to loud cheers from the 2,000-person crowd. "People are weary of that. They know weâ€™ve got to bring about a change."
Obamaâ€™s language was vastly stronger than it was two weeks ago, when he was asked about the case in Storm Lake, Ia. Obama appeared visibly uncomfortable by the question and said the teens "appear to have been railroaded into a very difficult situation," but he would not say what remedy he hoped to see in the case.
"My staff is right now looking into the details of the case to see potentially what role the federal government would have in sorting through and in providing justice there," Obama said at the time.
Tonight, Obama said it was the media who had failed to grasp the gravity of the situation in Jena.
"A lot of the mainstream media was surprised by what happened in Jena," said Obama. "But what they fail to understand is that all across the country, people have been wondering why it is that conviction rates, and arrest rates, and the number of young people who are put on the adult system instead of the juvenile system, varies oftentimes for the same crime."