Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death: An Expose on Jasmine Richards and the Black Lives Matter Movement

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WRITTEN BY: Trenesse Wade

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Growing up in an age where it seems impossible to avoid or ignore police brutality and negligence, I find it troubling that nonviolent protests are receiving such a negative backlash. Based on the birth of so many ________ (you fill in the blank) Lives Matter movements, it seems as though the message behind these organizations is being lost in translation. From what I can gather from the Black Lives Matter website and press coverage, their mission is to use social engagement and action to eradicate anti Black racism. From their mission statement and action within the U.S., it appears as though all they seek to do is create a dialogue for racism and peacefully organize to ensure political institutions are held responsible; So why so much negative backlash? Recently I’ve been following the story of activist Jasmine Richards. Richards is a California native that played a pivotal role in establishing the Black Lives Matter movement in California. She is well known for organizing groups peacefully, in the name of petitioning and speaking out against social and systematic injustices. Now, one would think that freedom of speech and the right to petition, would be two untouchable and inalienable rights in this country given its foundation. But yet again, the powers that be have found a loophole to enslave another activist.

Based on video footage attained by Think Progress, after a meeting with a group of Black Lives Matter supporters, Richards and the group witnessed a woman being assaulted by a restaurant owner for an unpaid meal. The group rushed to her aid, not knowing all of the facts, but attempting to de-escalate the altercation and ensure the assaulted women was out of harm’s way. The police were called to the scene and a few Black Lives Matters supporters were detained, Richards attempted to free a few detainees, but was not arrested.

Two days later, Richards was arrested on the grounds of inciting a riot and was later charged with felony lynching. Although this isn’t a laughing matter in the least, I’m a bit confused and amused about her felony lynching charge. After researching California laws and statues, it is very evident that penial system is sending residents of California a clear message. Be mindful of what you protest and speak about because the state will go out of their way to incarcerate you on trumped up charges.

What I find so mind blowing and insulting about her case, is that the state clearly didn’t take into consideration the birth of lynchings in America. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, lynchings began in twelve (12) southern states and was used as a scare tactic for African Americans to reinforce segregation and racial subordination. This was an act that was widely accepted and encouraged by political spear heads, which were majority White. A lynching also by definition is the hanging of an individual. Based on video footage and witness statements, no one was set to be lynched or lynched during the altercation that involved Richards and the group of supporters. So why is she sitting in jail and receiving a sentence for an event that never transpired.

In a society, where we are consistently told that racism doesn’t exist and that we should “let slavery go”, how are people still being imprisoned for such an act? I’m disgusted with the justice system in California because they failed Richards and their constituents, and if anything they made it clear that we need more activist like her and that we need to support and align with the Black Lives Matter Movement more than ever.

Jasmine Richards isn’t the first, and won’t be the last activist jailed. But we need to acknowledge this injustice and hold our political figures accountable. Just because a situation like Richards’ has not occurred in my community (yet), doesn’t mean that I am not affected and will not do my civil duty to ensure she receives vindication. You either stand for something or fall for the nothing, and the last straw has already broken this camel’s back. Use your voice and platform to expose cases such as this. Right now, minorities with this country are facing a social crisis that we are paying for daily with our lives and freedom. Rather than allowing our oppressors gloat in the fact that we won’t organize, we need to take a stand.

If you are unaware of what you can do to assist in the fight for our civil liberties, listed below are a few organizations and links that will get you on the right track. I have also included a link on Jasmine Richards story, so you can follow her and Black Lives Matter, as they seek to get her freedom back.

Jasmine Richards

Black Lives Matter


Color of Change

Dream Defenders

Darshay K. Lampley is a Broadcast Journalism major and Creative Writing minor at Jacksonville State University. Upon graduating, she anticipates a lucrative career in the entertainment industry. Darshay is an entertainment journalist, on-air radio personality, and is currently writing her first book. Darshay believes that her ambition along with her strong faith in God will lead her down the pathway to success. "God is within her, she will not fail." Psalm 46:5

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