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'Jena 6' figure shoots himself

  • Story Highlights
  • Mychal Bell accidentally wounds himself while cleaning gun, lawyer says
  • Bell was a defendant in racially charged case in Louisiana
  • Wound not life-threatening, police sergeant says
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(CNN) -- A teenager whose arrest in a racially charged assault case drew thousands of protesters to his rural Louisiana hometown was in a hospital early Tuesday after a shooting that his lawyer said was accidental.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Mychal Bell's mother, Michelle Bell, lead a 2007 protest march in Jena, Louisiana.

Mychal Bell was released in September 2007 and later agreed to a plea deal in the beating of a classmate.

Mychal Bell was cleaning a gun when it accidentally discharged, shooting him in the shoulder, his attorney, Carol Powell-Lexing, told CNN. He had surgery Monday night at a hospital in Monroe, Louisiana, and has not yet been able to talk, she said.

Monroe police Sgt. Cassandra Wooten said the wound was not life-threatening.

Bell was one of six black teenagers who faced adult felony charges in the 2006 beating of a white classmate in the town of Jena. The beating followed months of racial tensions in the community of 3,000 after three white students hung a noose in a tree whose shade was traditionally off limits to blacks at Jena High School.

The case of the "Jena 6" drew national attention from civil rights groups who argued that the charges were excessive. An estimated 15,000-plus people turned out for a September 2007 rally in the Louisiana town on the black youths' behalf.

Bell eventually pleaded guilty to battery in a juvenile court, served several months in a youth home and later moved to Monroe, about 70 miles north of Jena.

All About Mychal BellJena (Louisiana)LouisianaRacism and Bigotry

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