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Why Did Black Lives Matter Activist Face Four Years in Jail While Stanford Rapist Gets Six Months?

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Update: After our broadcast Jasmine Richards was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 18 days served, and 3 years on probation.

In California, Black Lives Matter activist Jasmine Richards faces up to four years in prison at her sentencing today after she was convicted of a rarely used statute in California law known up until recently as “felony lynching.” Police accused her of trying to de-arrest someone during a peace march in Pasadena last August. The arrest and jailing of a young black woman activist on charges of felony lynching has sparked a firestorm of protest, with supporters vowing to pack the court today. Meanwhile, in another California case, a judge sentenced white former Stanford University swimmer Brock Allen Turner to six months in jail after he was convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault. We get reaction from California Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin de León and Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo. “You started your show talking about someone from Stanford who rapes a woman and gets six months, and then you’ve got a woman who is part of the Black Lives [Matter] movement who is trying to bring forth the challenges that face us in America around racism and racial discrimination, and she’s participating, trying to exercise her First Amendment rights, … and she’s going to be given four years?” Cedillo says. “Something’s wrong with that picture.”

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Video squareStoryJun 02, 2016Black Lives Matter Activist Convicted of “Felony Lynching”: “It’s More Than Ironic, It’s Disgusting”
Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to end on another issue. In California, Black Lives Matter activist Jasmine Richards faces up to four years in prison at her sentencing today after she was convicted of a rarely used statute in California law known up until recently as “felony lynching.” Police accused her of trying to de-arrest someone during a peace march in Pasadena last August. The arrest and jailing of a young black woman activist on charges of felony lynching has sparked a firestorm of protest, with supporters vowing to pack the court today. Kevin de León, you’re president pro-tem of the California Senate. Your thoughts?

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: Well, listen, I’m not familiar with the legal details of this case, but nonetheless I think that perhaps prosecutors have been a little too harsh, or extremely harsh, with regards to the prosecution or the years that they’re trying to give this activist from Black Lives Matter. The reality is, is that Black Lives Matter, whether people concur or not concur with them, they have brought to light many of the abuse issues that young African Americans, Latinos and other minorities, people of color, have endured, have faced historically, not just in California, but throughout the nation. Perhaps the prosecutors are being overly harsh. Again, I want to underscore, I don’t know the legal details of this prosecution. I am aware of the general prosecution, but it seems like it’s much, much, much too harsh.

AMY GOODMAN: And Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, that she would be charged under this law originally set up so that if, you know, a mob pulled away—actually, for African Americans, against lynching—pulled away a person from police, that they would be held accountable for felony lynching, and yet it’s now being used against this young black woman?

COUNCILMEMBER GIL CEDILLO: Again, I also don’t know the details of the case, but it does seem wholly inappropriate. Think about this, Amy. You started your show talking about someone from Stanford who rapes a woman and gets six months, and then you’ve got a woman who is part of the Black Lives [Matter] movement who is trying to bring forth the challenges that face us in America around racism and racial discrimination, and she’s participating, trying to exercise her First Amendment rights—whatever people think about the tactics—and she’s going to be given four years? Something’s wrong with that picture.

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: I agree, absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. Kevin de León, president pro-tem of the California state Senate, Gil Cedillo, Los Angeles city councilmember, thanks so much for joining us.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we’ll be joined by radio host Rose Aguilar to talk about other aspects of the California primary that are not getting as much attention. Stay with us.

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