Black Lives Matter activist jailed for arrest interference

AP News
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Posted: Jun 08, 2016 2:06 PM

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — A Black Lives Matter organizer who was found guilty of interfering with an arrest by police in Southern California was sentenced Tuesday to 90 days in jail and three years' probation.

Jasmine Richards was convicted last week of trying to take a person from the "lawful custody of a peace officer" during a September peace rally in a Pasadena park.

Richards was with a group of protesters when a woman approached who allegedly had left a restaurant without paying.

When police took the woman into custody, Richards tried to start a riot, prosecutors said. Richards was arrested several days later after police reviewed evidence of the incident.

She faced a maximum four-year sentence and will get credit for the 18 days she has already served.

Protesters demanding her freedom chanted "Free Jasmine Now" outside the courthouse as she was sentenced.

In the past, Richards has spoken out against the actions of police, including the killing of Kendrec McDade, a black 19-year-old who was shot while running away from two Pasadena police officers in 2012.

Her attorney, Nana Gyamfi, told The Associated Press she would appeal the decision. An appeal was unlikely to have an effect on the amount of time Richard serves, Gyamfi said.

The state law that Richards was convicted under had been known as "felony lynching" in the past, but was changed by lawmakers last summer before Richards was charged.

State Sen. Holly Mitchell introduced the bill to strike the term lynching from California's books. She said last June that although the code was originally designed to protect African Americans in police custody, the word should no longer be attached to the law.

The use of the word "lynching" for group interference with police only loosely matches the historical conception of lynching — the hanging of blacks by racist mobs.