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Student tells paper she's sorry for 'Jena 6' re-enactment

  • Story Highlights
  • Student tells News-Star of Monroe, Louisiana, she wasn't making fun of "Jena 6"
  • Kristy Smith posted tape on her Facebook page; it has since been removed
  • Hundreds meet on University of Louisiana-Monroe campus in response to video
  • Six black students, dubbed "Jena 6," accused of beating white student
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(CNN) -- A student who videoed a re-enactment of the "Jena 6" incident apologized and said the video was not intended to make fun of the six black students arrested in the beating of a white classmate, according to The News-Star newspaper of Monroe, Louisiana.

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The incident involving six black students has sparked protests across the country, like this one in Washington.

The video, taped by University of Louisiana-Monroe student Kristy Smith, shows students in blackface apparently acting out the beating of Jena High School student Justin Barker.

One of the males in the tape runs onto the beach acting as if he is holding a noose, and three others -- covered in river mud -- pretend to knock him to the ground, punch and kick him. At least one racial epithet can be heard.

It was unclear when the video was made.

Smith said she taped it on the banks of the Red River in Alexandria, Louisiana, and posted it on her Facebook page, according to The News-Star. The page has since been made private, but the video was posted on YouTube and The Smoking Gun. Video Watch Jena 6 re-enactment »

More than 500 people attended a forum held Tuesday night at the university in response to the video, a university statement said. "The majority ... decided not to let the actions of a few define the entire student body."

Vice President of Student Affairs Wayne Brumfield told students "there are no words to express the dismay at what happened in that video ... We're here tonight because the action of one or two set our university in motion."

In a Tuesday interview with the News-Star, a tearful Smith denied being racist.

"This is so not me," she said in the Wednesday article. "It wasn't that we were making fun of the Jena 6 incident. We were just fed up with it ... I have just as many black [friends] as I do white friends."

School administrators are reviewing the incident for possible disciplinary action from ULM's Office of Judicial Affairs, university spokesperson Laura Harris said. Smith and another participant in the video are ULM students, Harris said.

The beating of Barker followed an increase in racial tensions in Jena, Louisiana, including at least two fights, sparked originally when three white teens hung nooses from an oak tree on the grounds of the town's high school.

The six black teens arrested in the beating were initially charged with attempted murder.

Those charges, later reduced and moved to juvenile court, focused nationwide attention on Jena and led about 15,000 protesters to the town to participate in a march on the youths' behalf.

Smith did not respond Thursday to an e-mail from CNN. Harris said she has left the ULM campus and returned home.

Smith told the News-Star she has taken the video off her Facebook page and has apologized to Facebook groups and bloggers. She said she is getting threats that have prompted her to delete her e-mail address and has had to keep her cell phone off. "My dad's back home dying of cancer, and I can't call him," she said.

Brumfield told students at Tuesday's forum that Smith "is suffering terrible shame right now." ULM asked Facebook and YouTube to remove the videos, Brumfield said, but it was still available on YouTube as of Thursday afternoon.

Brumfield also created his own Facebook account to respond to the video. University President James Cofer has directed that educational materials be developed for students, especially freshmen, on cultural sensitivity and racial diversity, according to a university statement.

"We are naturally appalled, and we intend to face this matter directly by gathering our community together and exploring these difficult issues," Cofer said in a statement.

Students at the forum offered ideas for strengthening racial unity on the campus of about 8,500 students.

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"What we're doing here right now is a very important thing," said Ma'ya Blount, a ULM junior from New Orleans, according to a university statement on the forum.

"Racism doesn't get resolved when people hush up about it and sweep it under the rug. It only gets resolved when we talk about it in an educated manner ... As long as we continue to do this, maybe 10, 20 years from now, race won't be so much of an issue. We need to talk about it in a positive manner. We can only learn from this." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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