Jasmine Richards’ ‘Felony Lynching’ Sentencing Turns Into Social Justice Celebration
Black Lives Matter activist and community organizer Jasmine Richards, who now goes by the name Jasmine Abdullah (to honor her mentor, BLM organizer Melina Abdullah), was sentenced to 90 days in jail in a Pasadena, Calif., courtroom Tuesday after being convicted of “felony lynching.” The official name of the charge was changed in 2015 to “unlawfully removing someone from police custody,” in response to a bill passed by California State Sen. Holly Mitchell.
Pasadena police accused Abdullah of interfering with a woman’s arrest during a peace march at La Pintoresca Park in Pasadena in August 2015. Video footage of the arrest shows several police officials dragging and detaining Abdullah. Witnesses yell, “She’s only 130 pounds, she doesn’t weigh that much. You’re going to hurt her. Please!” Police officers continue to crowd around, grab the woman and arrest her.
Felony lynching is defined as the act of attempting to take someone from the lawful custody of a police official. It was originally introduced to prevent the lynching of those taken from police custody by lynch mobs. The charge against Abdullah sparked outrage, due to its controversial name and historical reference. Many consider her sentencing a public lynching and a punishment for rising up against social injustices.
“Her conviction is not only about punishing Jasmine Richards, but also is the lynching,” Melina Abdullah told Democracy Now! “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.”
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Pasadena courthouse Tuesday to show support for Abdullah and bring awareness to the first political prisoner of the Black Lives Matter movement. Supporters brought painted signs, African drums, sage and banjos. Drones flew overhead, recording the action as supporters danced, laughed, sang and cried to express solidarity with Abdullah.
–Posted by Sarah WesleyWait, before you go…
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