Update 6/8/2016: On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Jasmine Richards was sentenced to 90 days imprisonment. In our opinion, this verdict is still egregiously wrong, given the circumstances of Ms. Richard’s arrest and conviction.
In 2016, white supremacist patriarchy is still granting privileges to some bodies while extinguishing those of others. And the sad part about it is that we don’t have to look very hard to find examples. The drastically different ways the criminal justice system approaches white and black suspects is furnishing all the examples we’ll ever need.
Two of them have emerged over the past few days.
Compare what’s happening with Jasmine Richards — a Black Lives Matter activist who was arrested and booked in Pasadena, CA on the bogus charge of “felony lynching” — with Brock Turner, a 20 year-old white athlete who was charged and convicted of three counts of sexual assault for raping a college student.
Richards, who has spent her whole life fighting social injustice and police brutality, will be the first political prisoner in this new era of the movement for Black Lives. In the late summer of 2015 — a year in which over twelve hundred people were killed by police — Richards came to the defense of a young woman who had been manhandled by police officers. She was arrested and charged with, of all things, “felony lynching.”
A conviction for felony lynching, or PC 405a, comes with a four-year prison sentence. Although a petition is circulating online to #FreeJasmine, which I recommend you sign — yes, I did — we have every reason to believe that the state of California is gearing up to ensure that Richards serves all four years to send a clear message to Black Lives Matter activists.
In the same year, Turner, a student swimmer attending one of the most prestigious schools in the country, Stanford University, encountered an inebriated, unconscious young woman, with pine needles in her disheveled hair, behind a dumpster. Instead of seeking help or escorting her home or to an emergency room, he raped her.
Yet, standing before a sympathetic Judge Aaron Persky, who identified with the elite student, Turner managed to escape the maximum sentence — a 14-year stint in state prison — and instead, will serve three to six months in county jail.
As WYV columnist Laurel Dickman plainly notes, “There are Black children doing longer sentences for marijuana possession, a victimless crime.”
And let’s not overlook the fact that the only persons penalized in each case are women.
To summarize: a black woman and dedicated social activist is set to do four years in prison for coming to the aid of a young woman abused by police, while a white rapist who, like so many men, claimed the woman “wanted it,” will do three months.
If this doesn’t convince the naysayers and non-believers of the efficacy of white supremacist patriarchy in the 21st century, I doubt anything will.