By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM

Jasmine (Richards) Abdullah flanked by her attorneys Nana Gyamfi and James Simmons, responds to Judge Elaine Lu’s decision not to order her to stay away from a neighborhood park where she mentors youth. Photo: Sam Vinal

PASADENA, Calif.– As a Black Lives Matter activist found guilty of one count of attempted felony lynching serves her 90-day sentence in an L.A. County Jail cell, her attorney is working to have her conviction overturned on appeal.

Attorney Nana Gyamfi is also fighting to keep Jasmine Richards a.k.a Jasmine Abdullah out of jail on two other misdemeanor cases.

The 29-year-old was convicted of violating a law believed to be designed to protect Blacks from White lynch mobs.   Felony lynching means to take someone from the lawful custody of police by means of a riot.


“Jasmine Richards should have never been charged in the first place.   This should have been obstruction of justice or something less … This has ignited people. People are clear you’re going to have to change your tricks somehow, that you’re not just going to do COINTELPRO again,” Atty. Gyamfi stated.

Judge Elaine Lu sentenced Ms. Richards to 90 days with 18 days’ time served, three years’ probation and anger management counseling.  

“I feel great!   The judge I saw today was different than that judge I saw last week.   I think she was able to really see this case for what it is and see Jasmine for who she is,” Atty. Gyamfi said.

While disappointed about the jail time, she’s happy Ms. Richards escaped prison, and got much less also than the 180 days jail time sought by prosecutors.  Judge Lu outright announced she considered a probationary sentence, but heard arguments on the terms before she ruled.  

Deputy District Attorney Christine Kee relentlessly argued for more jail time and an order for Ms. Richards to stay out of La Pintoresca Park, the scene of the attempted felony lynching on Aug. 29, 2015.   She lost that, too.

“No,” shouted Ms. Richards, who began to cry and shake her head. “I don’t think I need any jail time.   I don’t want to stay away from the kids that long.   It’s no chance out there … I love those kids and keeping me away from them is not the right thing.   It’s so not the right thing, okay,” she pleaded.

Atty. Gyamfi noted it is the only park in the Black neighborhood and where Ms. Richards tutors children and holds peace marches and other events.

Black Lives Matter — LA attributed the outcome of the sentencing to the wide range of support that poured in for Jasmine Richards including over 78,000 signatures on a Color of Change petition and over 20,000 signatures in one day from Asian Pacific Islander allies.

Dr. Melina Abdullah, an organizer with Black Lives Matter-LA, said the power of the people cannot be dismissed or underestimated.   The outcome was a partial victory, she said.

“We have to keep fighting.   We have to remember that this is the first Black Lives Matter political persecution. She’s the first political prisoner of the BLM movement but unless we stand up she will not be the last and any one of us could go down that way and with harsher sentencing,” she said.

Patrisse Cullors, Black Lives Matter cofounder, sent a message to Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey whose office oversaw the case.   “She (Lacey) ran on a progressive ticket.   She promised the Black community that she would show up for us, and what she has done time and time again is prosecute us,” Ms. Cullors said.