Black Lives Matter Activist Convicted Under Lynching Law

It's Right to Resist Police Lynch Mobs!

June 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


Last September in Pasadena, California, police moved in to arrest a young Black woman for allegedly not paying for her meal at a restaurant. Just as in so many other cases, they began viciously attacking her. This could have ended with another person on the list of those brutalized or even killed by police. But this time there were people determined to prevent this from happening.

On the other side of the street, in Pintoresca Park, there were people who had just been at a Black Lives Matter demonstration highlighting the police murder of Kendrec McDade, a Black 19-year-old shot and killed by Pasadena cops in 2012. They had seen how Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray and so many others have ended up dead or brutally beaten after being taken into police custody. They had every reason to believe this woman’s life was in real danger, and ran across the street.

A video of the incident shows a whole mob of pigs with billy clubs viciously attacking the woman. People surround them and you hear people yelling, “This is what we’re talking about—police brutality,” “She doesn’t weigh that much, she’s only 130 pounds, let her go, you’re going to hurt her, you’re going to break something on her, she has her hands behind her back,” “Look at these coward motherfuckers,” “This is an illegal arrest.” People were righteously calling out the pigs for this brutality. They were completely justified in getting up in the pigs’ faces and challenging this vicious police assault.

No one else was arrested that day. But the next day an 11-year-old boy was arrested and cited with what would be “resisting arrest” for an adult that also covered “delaying or obstructing a law enforcement officer performing his or her duties.” He was released into the custody of his mother.

Then the following day, 28-year-old Jasmine Abdullah (Richards), part of the struggle against police murder, was arrested and charged with four crimes—inciting a riot, child endangerment, delaying and obstructing peace officers in the discharge of their duties, and attempted felony lynching. Later, all of the charges were dropped EXCEPT the felony lynching charge. On Wednesday, June 1, Jasmine became the first Black person to be tried and convicted under this felony lynching law and now faces up to four years in state prison.

California’s “lynching law” was put on the books in 1933. It was aimed at preventing mobs from forcibly taking people from police custody for “vigilante justice,” like how the KKK went into jails, grabbed Black people who had been arrested, and then lynched them—that’s why this crime was called “lynching.”

But in more recent decades there has been a history of this law being used against protesters and now, as Nana Gyamfi, Jasmine’s lawyer, points out, “A law that was enacted for the purposes of defending Black people against hangings and torture is now being used against Black people who are fighting for the lives of Black people who are killed by the police.”

From 1877 (the end of Reconstruction) to 1950, at least 4,000 people were lynched in the United States. Under what is now the New Jim Crow, in this past year alone the police in the USA have killed more than 1,100 people—many unarmed, about half Black or Latino.

In such a situation, where the police are in fact modern-day lynch mobs—judge, jury, and executioners—carrying out genocidal murders against Black and Latino people, it is completely just and righteous for people to rise up in response to violence initiated and perpetrated against them by the police. Such actions can be life saving.

The way this anti-lynching law is now being used against people accused of freeing someone from the pigs is like  making it illegal for people to interfere with KKK lynch mobs that were hanging Black people. This is fucking outrageous!

Sentencing is set for Tuesday, June 7, 8:30 am at the Pasadena Courthouse, 300 E. Walnut, Pasadena. There are calls to pack the courtroom to support Jasmine Abdullah.


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