A Pasadena Superior Court Judge has ordered a June 1 jury trial for Pasadena Black Lives Matter organizer Jasmine Richards in the cases of one felony charge filed against her by the Los Angeles County District Attorney and two misdemeanors filed by the Pasadena City Attorney.
The most serious charge against Richards is one count of felony attempted lynching, which is punishable by up to four years imprisonment. In California law, the term “lynching” refers to a situation where rioters forcibly free a detainee from police custody.
Richards was in Department C of the Pasadena Courthouse Wednesday morning with her attorney Nana Gyamfi and a group of about a dozen supporters.
At the Wednesday pre-trial hearing, Judge Darrell Mavis told Richards that if convicted she faces the possibility of at least 180 days in jail, one year of anger management (52 classes) and an order to stay away from Memorial Park.
Judge Mavis made clear to Richards that although unlikely, she could be sentenced to as much as four years in prison if convicted.
Through her attorney, Richards wanted to proceed with a jury trial and not pleaded guilty.
Richards’ felony attempted lynching charge stems from an August 29, 2015 incident at La Pintoresca Park in 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, police said at the time.
“When the officers attempted to detain her [the suspect] then part of the Black Lives Matter protest group attempted to intercede,” Lt. Tracey Ibarra said last September in describing what occurred.
“Officers held them back,” Ibarra said, and ultimately were able to take the suspect into custody.
“Attempted lynching requires a person to attempt to unlawfully take a person from the lawful custody of a peace officer,” Richards’ attorney Nana Gyamfi said in an email early Wednesday morning before hearing. “It also includes an element of inciting a riot to do so. The historical use is to charge a crime of lynching when the lynch mob takes the Black person out of the custody of the police for the purpose of lynching the Black person.”
Gyamfi continued, “in these Movement arrests the only people across the country who have been charged with lynching have been Black women. The only person still facing felony lynching charges is Jasmine Richards. All other cases across California and the country were either dropped or reduced. Deputy District Attorney Kee described Jasmine Richards’ actions as interfering with police, but was not willing to offer charge of interfering with police, which is a misdemeanor.”
Gyamfi has told Pasadena Now that Richards should never have been charged.
“They’re all coming out because of her protest activity,” Gyamfi said.
“It’s important to note that clear Jasmine Richards is a target of Pasadena police and prosecutors,” Gyamfi said in Wednesday’s. “Pasadena cops walk up to her at random times in Pasadena and say her name while laughing, including in the courthouse. These cops have no relation to her cases. They are focused on getting her.”
“Recently, a person from Hillary Clinton’s campaign came up to her at the demonstration at East L.A. Community College and told her he knew who she was and asked if she was there to disrupt the event. So, this lynching charge is not random. The prosecution of Jasmine Richards is an attempted lynching of Jasmine and by extension the Movement for Black Lives in Pasadena with the Pasadena DA’s office and Pasadena Police Department as the lynch mob.”