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  • Jasmine "Abdullah" Richards founded the Pasadena chapter of Black Lives Matter after years of living in fear of the police.

    Jasmine "Abdullah" Richards founded the Pasadena chapter of Black Lives Matter after years of living in fear of the police. | Photo: Color of Change

The leading Black Lives Matter organizer was charged with "felony lynching," which activists say is worse than ironic.

Jasmine “Abdullah” Richards, who has been called the first political prisoner of the Black Lives Matter movement, was charged for “felony lynching” and sentenced Tuesday to 90 days in jail, 18 days served and three years on probation by an all-white jury.

Activists packed the Pasadena courthouse, and an AJ+ report showed honks, shouts and words of disapproval from supporters of the founder of the local Black Lives Matter chapter. Pasadena has a 13 percent Black population, leading interviewees to call the sentencing “problematic.”

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Richards could have received up to four years in jail, but pressure from activists on social media and two petitions may have helped reduce the sentence.

Richards was charged with lynching on Thursday for blocking a fellow activist from what she saw as unlawful arrest. The "lynching" charge is meant to be used against lynch mobs that take people from police custody to deliver their own form of justice. It requires a mob to be present, but the protest organized by the activists has been described in the petition as a peaceful gathering of “15-20 children, mothers, and community members.”

Richards is the first Black Lives Matter activist to receive the charge — others have been arrested for a variety of reasons — and she is reportedly the first Black person to be charged with lynching.

Tuesday also saw the sentencing of Brock Turner, a swimmer at Stanford that raped an unconscious woman, to six months on Tuesday. The judge said a longer sentence would have had a “severe impact on him.”

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