Black Lives Matter leader Jasmine Abdullah Richards, jailed for ‘felony lynching,’ fights in the spirit of Muhammad Ali

by Ojore McKinnon

“You my opposer when I want justice.” – Muhammad Ali

In the wake of Muhammed Ali’s transition come the voices of praise and adulation heaped on the man for his political stance and courage for holding to his convictions in 1967, that brought him face-to-face with a racist U.S. regime. But the voices are silent in the face of Jasmine Abdullah Richards’ reality in 2016, against an identical racist regime to the one who persecuted Ali.

Jasmine Abdullah Richards 'Prisoner Pasadena USA #Free Jasmine graphicJasmine Abdullah Richards, of Pasadena, California, languishes in a jail cell on “felony lynching” charges after an incident at a Peace March organized by her and others to draw attention to the murders of Black women and men in Pasadena by Pasadena paddy-rollers (police).

During the course of this Peace March, the paddy-rollers decided to break up the peaceful assembly with authoritarian and repressive tactics of intimidation to cause havoc and give credence to their assault on peaceful marchers, the majority of whom were juveniles, as we’ve seen many times before. Their intent was to detain and arrest anyone not complying with their orders nor retreating fast enough.

When the paddy-rollers attacked a woman, protesters came to her aid, and for this act Jasmine Abdullah was charged with felony lynching – acting to remove “a prisoner” from police custody.

Outraged, people denounced the felony lynching charge against Jasmine Abdullah. Ironically, Gov. Jerry Brown had signed Sen. Holly Mitchell’s bill to strike the word “lynching” from the state’s criminal code less than two months earlier in response to a similar incident. But the malfeasance of the prosecutor who charged a Black woman with a term the Legislature had just deleted from the law remained in place.

For those who need some context and backstory on felony lynching laws, they stem from white lynch mobs – from Reconstruction in 1866 into the 1960s – who descended upon police stations and jails to demand the “criminals” paddy-rollers had in their custody for crimes real and imagined, or they would use force to retrieve them, by such acts as setting fire to the jail to ensure their sadistic appetite was satisfied. In many cases, sympathetic to the lynch mob, the paddy-rollers complied with their demands.

When the paddy-rollers attacked a woman, protesters came to her aid, and for this act Jasmine Abdullah was charged with felony lynching – acting to remove “a prisoner” from police custody.

In the case of Jasmine Abdullah, there was no white mob, no intent to lynch anyone nor to de-arrest anyone. If anything, it was an attempt to free the woman protester from rogue paddy-rollers who were brutally assaulting and wrongfully arresting her for exercising her constitutional right to assemble.

Essentially, the absurdity of the charge – a law designed to protect Black lives and bodies – is now being applied to persecute, condemn and imprison a Black woman standing up for Black lives. The focus of the regime is on squashing Black political dissent and resistance.

The days of law enforcement officers outsourcing their lynching are antiquated. Today, lynching is relegated to criminal law enforcement and those within the injustice system. This way all acts of lynching can be deemed justified and lawful.

Angela Davis stands with Jasmine Abdullah Richards. So must we all.
Angela Davis stands with Jasmine Abdullah Richards. So must we all.

Found guilty and facing up to four years in prison, on June 7, 2016, Jasmine Abdullah Richards was sentenced to 90 days in jail with 18 days served and three years’ probation. Like Ali, she was in reality found guilty of rebellion and for adhering to the ideology of Harriet Tubman: “Leave no [woman] behind.”

No, there will never be another Ali or Ida B. Wells, but there is a Jasmine Abdullah fighting for Black lives, and we can stand with her in this era of Black power and the Black Lives Matter struggle. All those who honor Ali in death, let us honor, praise and be active in the struggle with Jasmine Abdullah in life and with every individual standing strong in the fight against a regime who oppose our equality, justice and freedom.

Don’t just pay lip service to a bygone era; get involved! The struggle is real and has never subsided. If you can’t acknowledge or praise this Sistah Souljah for standing up for her political convictions, as Ali once said, “You my opposer … You won’t stand up for me right here at home!”

Like Ali, she was in reality found guilty of rebellion and for adhering to the ideology of Harriet Tubman: “Leave no [woman] behind.”

Salute to my sistah; asante for your service! Remain steadfast in your Black Lives Matter convictions.

From my stance on Maa, a voice from Deathrow,

Ojore Dhoruba Khafra Ajamu

Send our brother some love and light: Ojore McKinnon, P-32800, CSP San Quentin 4EY31, San Quentin CA 94974. Learn more about Ojore at http://betweenthebars.org/blogs/7375.

Editor’s note: Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah on her comrade, Jasmine Abdullah Richards: “Her conviction is not only about punishing Jasmine Richards but also IS the lynching. So it’s really disgusting and ironic that she’s charged and convicted with felony lynching, when the real lynching that’s carried out is done in the same way it was carried out in the late 19th, early 20th century, where it’s supposed to punish those who dare to rise up against a system.”