Black Lives Matter organizer Jasmine Richards has been convicted of “felony lynching” and now faces four years in a Pasadena state prison.
Felony Lynching is rarely used these days, because it was a law created specifically to punish and deter racists vigilante’s when they tried to take a Black person out of police custody to kill them. However, the legal definition is simply when somebody attempts to remove a person from police custody.
The incident happened on August 29, 2015 at a peace march at La Pintoresca Park in Pasadena where Jasmine and others demanded justice for Kendrec McDade, a 19-year-old African American killed by Pasadena police in 2012. Jasmine allegedly tried to “de-arrest” somebody at a peace rally, according to Democracy Now, and she was arrested. After the arrest, the she was slapped with the charge that has evoked outrage.
Activists that cite America’s rich legacy of terrorism to Africans in America during and after slavery does not miss the irony in this specific charge against Jasmine.
Melina Abdullah, a Cali-based Black Lives Matter organizer, said that Jasmine is being persecuted unjustly and sheds new light on what happened that day.
Melina told AllHipHop:
Jasmine Abdullah (aka Jasmine Richards) is a tremendously talented, inspirational and visionary organizer and founding member of Black Lives Matter - Pasadena. For the last two years she has been organizing, especially young folks, from the neighborhood in which she was raised to stand up against police terror. Her work as an organizer has awakened and mobilized the community to the oppressive conditions that both deprive people of resources and subject us to state-sanctioned violence. Because of this, Jasmine was constantly harassed and frequently arrested by Pasadena police. On June 1, 2016, Jasmine was convicted of attempted felony "lynching" for coming to the aid a Black woman who she believed to be unlawfully detained by the police as Black Lives Matter was holding a "Peace March." Jasmine now faces up to 4 years in state prison. We are pushing for no jail time in sentencing and encouraging everyone to recognize this for what it is...a political prosecution that threatens the rights of all of us to protest and organize.
Melina Abdullah talked frankly to Democracy Now.
"Her conviction is not only about punishing Jasmine Richards, but also is the lynching," Abdullah said. "So it’s really disgusting and ironic that she’s charged and convicted with felony lynching, when the real lynching that’s carried out is done in the same way it was carried out in the late 19th, early 20th century, where it’s supposed to punish those who dare to rise up against a system."
Shortly before Jasmine was arrested, California Governor Jerry Brown legally had the name of the law changed to remove the word “lynching.”
Here is a partial transcript of Abdullah’s conversation with Democracy Now:
Jasmine was absolutely targeted in this arrest and many other arrests. So, Pasadena is a relatively small suburb of Los Angeles. Jasmine’s activism is hugely significant, because she comes out of an area of northwest Pasadena where it’s deprived of resources. And what her activism really means and really signals is that people who are deprived of resources have the capacity to look up and recognize that it’s the system that creates these conditions. And that system, the system that creates state-sanctioned violence, also deprives communities of resources. So, when Jasmine was awakened, she did a phenomenal job of also awakening all of the folks in her community. So, as Nana Gyamfi described, you know, she had children who were working with her. She had young people who were working with her. She had folks who had maybe been on the corner a week ago working with her and recognizing that the system needs to be transformed. And so that poses a threat to the existing social order that wants to keep black poor people, especially, oppressed. And so, Jasmine is our Bunchy Carter. Jasmine is a political prisoner and represents probably the hugest threat to the state, in that the folks at the bottom can recognize their own oppression and rise up against it.
Now, her conviction is hugely significant, because her conviction is not only about punishing Jasmine Richards, but also is the lynching. So it’s really disgusting and ironic that she’s charged and convicted with felony lynching, when the real lynching that’s carried out is done in the same way it was carried out in the late 19th, early 20th century, where it’s supposed to punish those who dare to rise up against the system. But also, you leave the body hanging from a tree to send a signal to the rest of those black folks who might want to get out of line, and remind them that the state has more power than they do. But I think that in the end, what we see—we had a packed courtroom for the entire trial. What we see is we are not going for this anymore. We are not going to let our folks be lynched. We’re not going to let our folks be murdered by the state. We are working continuously for justice for Kendrec McDade, for Ezell Ford, for Wakiesha Wilson, Jamar Clark and all of those that the state has murdered, but also for the freedom and the right to protest and really vision a new system that gets us free. And that’s what we are going to do. We’re going to struggle for justice for Jasmine Abdullah. She has chosen the name Jasmine Abdullah, but the state knows her as Jasmine Richards. We are going to continue to struggle for her freedom, because our freedom is bound up with her freedom.