Black Lives Matter Activist Sentenced to 90 Days in Jail for ‘Lynching’

Black Lives Matter activist Jasmine Richards was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years probation Tuesday. Gary McCarthy.

Black Lives Matter activist Jasmine Richards was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years probation Tuesday. Gary McCarthy.

A Pasadena judge sentenced Black Lives Matter activist Jasmine Richards to 90 days in jail and three years of probation Tuesday for pulling a woman away as police officers attempted to arrest her.

The official charge: felony lynching, according to an antiquated California penal code. Last week, Richards became the first African-American convicted of lynching in the history of the crime.

The state’s anti-lynching code was introduced in 1933 to combat widespread vigilantism in a time when mobs routinely plucked fellow whites from police custody to administer their own brand of justice.

Social justice advocates have accused law enforcement officials of abusing the controversial code in recent years to punish activists for speaking out against systemic inequities.

The cruel irony was not lost on Richards’ defense attorney Nana Gyamfi.

“A law that was enacted for the purposes of defending black people against hangings and torture,” Gyamfi told Mic, “is now being used against black people who are fighting for the lives of black people who are killed by the police.”

“Obviously, the police, District Attorney, and entire system are trying to make an example out of Jasmine, using this outrageous conviction to intimidate other organizers from fighting for an end to police terror and other forms of state violence against Black people,” said Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah, in a statement released by the movement following the conviction. “It won’t work.”

Though legal observers say the charge is quite uncommon, Richards was the second BLM demonstrator to face such a charge in 2015. Sacramento native Maile Hampton was arrested for the same offense following a scuffle with officers during an anti-police brutality at the state capitol on Jan. 18.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert eventually dropped the charges, but public outrage inspired lawmakers to quickly push through legislation striking the term from all records. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law last July.

Five protestors in Murietta faced similar charges for last year’s Fourth of July pro-immigrant demonstration. Occupy Oakland protestors were accused of “lynching” in 2012.

Richards’ sentencing came five days after a white former Stanford University student was sentenced to just six months in jail on three felony counts of sexual assault.

Two graduate students discovered Brock Allen Turner, a champion swimmer, straddling an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in the early hours of Jan. 18, 2015.

The witnesses detained Turner, who ran when confronted by the men, while waiting for police to arrive.

Officers said the unnamed 23-year-old was wearing no undergarments and her dress was lifted above the waist. She did not come to until hours later.

In March, a California jury found Turner guilty of sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object and assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated person.

Prosecutors asked for a six-year prison term, but according to presiding Judge Aaron Persky, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others.”

A letter submitted to the court by the defendant’s father prior to sentencing sparked further outrage on social media.

In the remarks, Dan Turner argued that “20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life” did not warrant time served.

“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” he wrote of the one-time Olympic hopeful. “He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile.”

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