WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Green Party strongly condemns the prosecution and conviction of Black Lives Matter (BLM) organizer Jasmine Richards in Pasadena, California, on “felony lynching” charges.
Ms. Richards was arrested on August 29, 2015 after police accused her of attempting to “de-arrest” another participant during a peace march at Pintoresca Park in Pasadena.
The arrest and charges provoked widespread public anger as well as recognition that Ms. Richards is the first political prisoner from the Black Lives Matter movement (see columnist Shaun King, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/jasmine-richards-prisoner-black-lives-matter-article-1.2659110 ).
“The Green Party stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and with Jasmine Richards,” said Thomas Muhammad, Co-Chair of the Green Party Black Caucus. “The police and courts twisted an incident of interference in an arrest into a ‘lynching’ charge. This is a repellent and inflammatory allegation against a young black activist, given the history of terrorist white lynch mobs seizing black prisoners from police custody for the purpose of extrajudicially executing them.”
Two months before Ms. Richards’ arrest and after lobbying by California State Senator Holly Mitchell, who is Black, legislation (Senate Bill 629) removing the word “lynching” from the California penal code was passed in July 2015. Jasmine Richards was the first African-American ever to face the charge.
“The lynching charge tells us that this was a trumped-up prosecution meant to defame Black Lives Matter, criminalize legitimate activism for basic human rights and dignity, and intimidate young people — especially young African American women like Jasmine Richards — who speak out for justice,” said Kamesha Clark, Green candidate for the U.S. House in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District ( http://www.kameshaclark.com ).
“This charge also tells us that the time has come for movements such as Black Lives Matter to diversify their strategies for achieving social justice. Organizing can be achieved in ways that does not attract police presence. Doing so will greatly reduce the risk of being imprisoned and particular methods, such as organizing for community controlled development within our most vulnerable neighborhoods, will help to eradicate the systemic societal ills that invite unwarranted excessive force in the first place,” said Ms. Clark.
Green Party leaders noted widespread suspicions that Pasadena police were targeting Ms. Richards for speaking out and organizing public protest after the police killing of Kendrec McDade, an unarmed black 19-year-old, in 2012. No Black members were seated on the jury that convicted Ms. Richards, who may face one to four years in prison.
“There is not a Black American family that has not been touched by lynching,” said Marian Douglas-Ungaro, member of the D.C. Statehood Green Party and the Green Party Black Caucus. “It is an atrocity to have a Black American charged and convicted of something which, clearly, Ms. Richards has not done. Over the past three generations, or longer, the vast majority of persons who really have hanged Black people, have never been formally identified as suspects, nor arrested, let alone jailed, tried, or convicted. This whole prosecution sends a message of contempt, even of hate, with impunity.”
Statement by Dr. Melina Abdullah, organizer and one of the original members of Black Lives Matter: “My heart is broken and my soul is reeling in the wake of the conviction of my twin soul, our warrior, and my Spirit Daughter… Jasmine Abdullah [Richards] on felony lynching charges today and immediately remanded to custody. I don’t know why I held out hope that we would get justice in this case, that the judge, prosecutor and jury… none of whom were Black… would be fair and somehow come down on our side. I had to remind myself of what I already know to be true…. this system is completely corrupt, unjust, and built off the oppression of our people.” ( https://www.facebook.com/melina.abdullah/posts/10154141481460930 )
A petition for Ms. Richards has been placed online: “#FreeJasmine: No Jail Time for Black Lives Matter Organizer Wrongfully Convicted of ‘Lynching'” (http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/freejasmine-no-jail-time-black-lives-matter-activist-accused-lynching).
In previous statements, the Green Party has declared its support for BLM and for protests against police killings organized by the group. At the Green Party’s 2015 Annual National Meeting in St. Louis, party members held a rally for racial justice on July 25 across the street from Ferguson police headquarters.