Black Lives Matter Leader, Jasmine Richards was convicted of felony lynching on Wednesday, June 1, 2015 after a jury deliberated for just two hours. Los Angeles People’s Media was there in the courtroom covering the trial. Richards is the first black person in the US to be convicted of lynching.
When we think of lynching images of the KKK hanging a black person from a tree come to mind. Somehow this image has gotten twisted around and the charge of lynching has been used against a black woman suspected of trying to unarrest another black woman who she felt was being unlawfully taken by police. Up until now, No black person has been found guilty of this charge until now.
In September 2015 a black woman named Ms. Esco went to a Mexican restaurant and ordered an horchata. She was twenty cents short so she asked to pay by debit. The owner of the restaurant claimed that Esco punched her in the face. The owner called her daughter who was nearby. The daughter also claimed that Esco assaulted, punched, and kicked her several times. The injuries shown in photos of both women showed scrapes, not bruises, which would be consistent with injuries caused by punching and kicking. There was also a photo showing an injury on Esco’s head. A police officer, on the witness stand, failed to mention that Esco had accused the restaurant owner of stealing her phone. This was revealed only under cross-examination by the defense attorney, Nana Gyamfi. Jasmine Richards was convicted of taking Ms. Esco from police custody despite the fact that Esco was never handcuffed and was not in police custody.
Black Lives Matter is not just an anti-police brutality movement. Black Lives Matter is concerned with protecting all black lives and they also work to prevent gang violence. Jasmine Richards actively worked with children in her community, mentoring them, and encouraging unity. Jasmine was leading a peace walk when her group of 15 to 20 people, including 5 to 8 children, passed by the restaurant where they saw Esco. Esco left with the group and they all went to a nearby park. Police claim they had Esco in their custody, though she was never in handcuffs when Richards took Esco to the park. Richards was under the understanding that Esco was a crime victim, that the restaurant owner had stolen Esco’s phone.
Merriam-Webster defines the word lynch as: “to kill (someone) illegally as punishment for a crime.” The legal definition for lynching in California doesn’t involve killing, but “The taking by means of a riot of any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer is a lynching” According to California law, a riot occurs when two or more people use force or violence, disturb the peace, or threaten to use force or violence with immediate power to execute that threat.
In an interview with KPFK radio in June 2015, Richards said, “When I was out her causing trouble, (before joining black Lives Matter) getting into everything, I never got in trouble by the law. Once I picked up a bullhorn, I became a target and that just showed me how powerful the woman and black woman’s voice is. Because their trying to stifle me. They’re trying to keep me down. It’s just bullying. They’re (the police) bullies.”
On the second day of police testimony Black Lives Matter attorney, Nana Gyamfi “Today was filled with Pasadena cops contradicting themselves and each other, and a video of BLM Pasadena standing up for Black lives. Jasmine’s words and energy during that action were truly Black resilience! We gon’ be alright!”
Gyamfi has been receiving threats by telephone. She posted this on her Facebook page last week, “I received another one of those calls designed to scare, intimidate, and shame. Message left last week, but just got today because my messages have been re-routed without my knowledge or consent since the end of April. Seems that coward with the disguised voice is still upset with me for representing BLM, and Jasmine Abdullah in particular.”
After the guilty verdict Gyamfi said, “This was a political prosecution, not a criminal prosecution. This was a jury that could not tell the difference between a loud Black person and a violent Black person. This jury has nothing to be proud of”
Later she posted: “Very sad to report that Jasmine Abdullah was convicted this morning of attempted felony lynching. Jurors cried as their verdict was read. The Court should have let her leave with us, but instead, she remanded her into custody. Sentencing is set for next Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The fight continues!”
She posted: “It’s important to uplift that as Jasmine Richards was being lead to lock-up, after the judge remanded her to custody, she turned to us and said in a strong voice in open court, ‘We have a duty to fight for freedom!’ 30 voices, including my own, responded, ‘We have a duty to fight for freedom.’ She continued, ‘We have a duty to win’. We replied, ‘We have a duty to win.’ ‘ We must love and protect one another.’ ‘We must love and protect one another.’ And as she disappeared behind the wall, ‘We have nothing to lose but our CHAIIIIINS!’ ‘We have nothing to lose but our CHAINS!!!’ ‘I love you!’ ‘We LOVE you, Jasmine!,’ we responded. And the silenced shamed courtroom staff and ‘officers of the court’, including the formerly smug prosecutor DDA Christine Kee, were forced to be witness AGAIN to what Black Resilience is. Only you, Jasmine Abdullah. You and your fierce-ass Ancestors. We’re still fighting! We’re still winning!”
There is a petition asking the city of Pasadena to stop the political persecution of Jasmine Abdullah. People are being asked to contribute to Jasmine’s legal fundraiser.
Sentencing for Jasmine will be held on Tuesday, June 7 at 8:30 AM at the Pasadena courthouse.
“This is a Movement, Not a Moment” – Jasmine Richards of Black Lives Matter
Nana Gyamfi and Melina Abdullah spoke with Democracy now