Black Lives Matter Organizer Sentenced to 90 Days in Jail, 3 Years Probation for ‘Lynching’

By Sameer Rao Jun 07, 2016

Jasmine "Abdullah" Richards, the Black Lives Matter Pasadena organizer convicted of attempted lynching last week, has been sentenced to to 90 days in jail, three years of probation and one year of anger management instruction.

Richards was sentenced in connection with an August 2015 encounter with police at a Pasadena, California, park. The incident began after a nearby restaurant owner accused an unidentified Black woman of stealing. As officers apprehended the woman in the park, Richards and other activists who were already there peacefully protesting the 2012 police killing of Kendrec McDade, surrounded cops in an attempt to stop the arrest. 

Amid considerable public outrage at a nonviolent Black protestor being convicted of a lynching offense—historically, a form of White supremacist terrorism against African-Americans—Judge Elaine Lu has opted to incarcerate Richards.

"The actions of Judge Elaine Lu, L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey and the Pasadena Police Department in this case have been deplorable," said Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors in a statement e-mailed to Colorlines and other media. "Sentencing Jasmine to jail time for attempted lynching is an offensive gimmick and an insult to Black communities across this country, where many families can still recall being terrorized by actual lynching."

Alongside members of the Pasadena and Los Angeles chapters of Black Lives Matter, activists from Color of Change delivered a petition with tens of thousands of signatures to the Pasadena courthouse today. They also rallied outside, with several participants tweeting photos and video.

As we reported on Friday (June 3), Richards was charged with "attempted lynching" under a California law (amended by legislators last summer) that defined lynching as "the taking by means of a riot of any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer." Richards initially faced up to four years in prison. She has already served 18 days of her 90-day jail sentence.

California prosecutors have previously attempted to charge other activists such as Maile Hampton with a crime of lynching. According to Vox, Richards is the first Black person successfully charged with and sentenced for lynching in American history. 

Many took to Twitter to express their outrage and disbelief, with some comparing this case to that of Brock Turner:

(H/t The Sacramento Bee

*Note: Post has been changed to reflect correct spelling of DA Lacey’s last name.