Black Lives Matter activist sentenced for interfering with Pasadena police

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Protesters gathered outside a Pasadena courthouse as a Black Lives Matter activist was sentenced for interfering with an arrest of a fleeing suspect. (KABC)

A Black Lives Matter activist who directed protesters to interfere with an attempt by Pasadena police to arrest a fleeing suspect was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Tuesday.

Hundreds of protesters had gathered in front of the Pasadena Courthouse on Tuesday to demand freedom for Black Lives activist Jasmine Richards.

Inside the packed courtroom, the defendant asked for leniency following her felony conviction.

"As far as the anger management, I do think I do need anger management," Richards told Judge Elaine Lu.

Richards' arrest in August 2015 has polarized communities. She mentors children in La Pintoresca Park and teaches them about activism.

A jury convicted her for interfering with the arrest of a suspected thief who had run into the park and had no connection with Richard's activities.

The prosecutor explained more in court: "Ms. Richards had a bullhorn. She was directing 15 to 20 protesters, some of which were children 11 to 16 years of age, yelling profanities," said Deputy District Attorney Christine Kee.

The prosecutor says Pasadena police officers were surrounded, yet responded with restraint.

"They could have used Tasers and pepper spray but backed off," Kee said.

Richards had been charged with an offense defined as "lynching." The state law was reworded in 2016 to an attempt to unlawfully remove a suspect from police officers by causing a riot.

The charge carries a term of up to 4 years in prison.

Supporters say Richards is a victim of political persecution.

"The larger issue in L.A. County is the issue of law enforcement, is the issue of who holds them accountable and who doesn't hold them accountable," said Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors.

The court noted that Richards had a criminal record before her latest arrest. Still Lu sentenced Richards to 90 days in jail, which was half of what the DA recommended.

Williams must also serve three years of probation and attend anger management counseling.

"The truth in fact is that the person you tried to help had just committed a crime and had injured another citizen," Lu told Richards.

The prosecutor also wanted Richards barred from organizing youth in Pintoresca Park. Richards broke into tears, pleading to the judge.

"I am asking do what you see fit. But I love those kids and keeping me away from them is not right. It is not the right thing, OK? I just want you to know that," Richards said.

The judge agreed.

Richard's defense attorney, Nana Gyamfi, said Richards will likely spend 30 days behind bars. She plans to appeal the felony conviction.

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protestsentencingPasadenaLos Angeles County
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