Mychal Bell, one of the "Jena 6" whose case brought national attention to racial tensions in the small Louisiana town two years ago, accidentally shot himself in the shoulder Monday evening, according to CNN.
Bell was cleaning a gun and the firearm discharged unexpectedly, his lawyer said. He was rushed to a nearby hospital in Monroe, Louisiana, where he was treated.
Bell's lawyer, Carol Powell-Lexing, told CNN her client underwent surgery on Monday night. At press time Bell was unable to speak, CNN reported, but authorities said the injury was not life threatening. Bell has not been charged with any crime.
In 2006, Bell, along with five other African-American classmates, were facing felony assault charges after an incident in which he and several others beat a white student for allegedly using a racial epithet. The fight was prompted after a noose was discovered hanging from a tree on school grounds, a gesture which created outrage in the community. Three white Jena High students placed the noose in the tree, it was later learned; the shade of the tree was traditionally off-limits to blacks in the past.
In [news id="1570241"]September 2007[/news], over 15,000 activists — including [artist id="504157"]Mos Def[/artist] and [artist id="1161671"]UGK[/artist]'s Bun B — descended on Jena to lend support to Bell and his classmates. Many believed the charges against the "Jena 6," as they were dubbed, were too excessive. [artist id="760701"]Nelly[/artist], [artist id="1233784"]Nick Cannon[/artist] and [artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist] were among those who spoke out against what were thought to be racially-tinged claims. Bell eventually pleaded guilty to lesser charges. He served a few months at a juvenile detention center and then relocated to the town of Monroe, approximately 70 miles north of Jena.