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Black Lives Matter Supporters Gather 57,000 Signatures, Vow to Pack Pasadena Court During Jasmine Richards’ Sentencing Tuesday

Published on Monday, June 6, 2016 | 5:15 am
Black Lives Matter Pasadena Organizer Jasmine Richards (left) seen before a May pre-trial conference. Her attorney, Nana Gyamfi, is at right. Photo - Brandon Villalovos

Supporters of Black Lives Matter Pasadena organizer Jasmine Richards plan to pack the Los Angeles Superior Courtroom in Pasadena Tuesday during Richards’ sentencing after she was convicted last Thursday of the felony charge of attempting to unlawfully remove a suspect from police officers, formerly known as “felony lynching.”

The conviction carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. Richards’ supporters say the charge against her was politically motivated and “trumped up” and are asking the judge in the case to either overturn the jury decision to convict Richards or to release her.

The movement has gathered over 57,900 signatures in five days on a letter of support for their position they plan to present to Superior Court Judge Elaine Lu.

In a press release, Black Lives Matter said that the conviction be overturned on the grounds that the facts presented at the trial did not support the charge,” said Richards’ attorney Nana Gyamfi.

“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 Los Angeles chapter organizer, Melina Abdullah. “It won’t work.”

“If there is a refusal to overturn the conviction, we want the fairest sentencing possible with no jail time,” the group demanded. “We want all other pending changes for Jasmine Abdullah (Richards) and all other Black Lives Matter protesters, activists, and organizers and all other political prisoners to be dropped immediately.”

Richards was arrested and charged with felony lynching following an incident on August 29, 2015 in La Pintoresca Park in Northwest Pasadena. In that incident, a number of people who had concluded an earlier peaceful Black Lives Matter march saw police officers taking a young black woman into custody across the street from the park on a matter unrelated to the march. The group allegedly tried to intervene in the arrest and free the woman, police said at the time.

Richards, authorities said, incited the crowd to attack the officers and attempt to free the prisoner during the incident.

“Attempted lynching requires a person to attempt to unlawfully take a person from the lawful custody of a peace officer,” Jasmine’s attorney Nana Gyamfi said before her hearing on May 19. “It also includes an element of inciting a riot to do so.”

Gyamfi said there was no riot that day.

Gyamfi has told Pasadena Now that Richards should never have been charged.

“It’s important to note that clear Jasmine Richards is a target of Pasadena police and prosecutors,” Gyamfi said.

Richards’ sentencing is set for Tuesday, June 7, 8:30 a.m. at the Pasadena Courthouse, 300 E. Walnut in Pasadena.

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