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Black Lives Matter activist found guilty of interfering with Pasadena police

Black Lives Matter activist Jasmine Richards found guilty of felony charge
Attorney Nana Gyamfi, second from right, at a September 2015 news conference alongside Black Lives Matters activists calling for the release of Pasadena Black Lives Matter organizer Jasmine Richards.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

A Black Lives Matter activist has been found guilty of interfering with Pasadena police officers as they were taking a suspect into custody last year. 

Jasmine Richards was arrested by Pasadena police in September, following a demonstration in La Pintoresca Park. Police arrived at the scene after a woman reportedly walked out of a restaurant in the 1300 block of North Fair Oaks Avenue without paying. The woman joined a group of people, including Richards, who had gathered at the park after a peace march, said her attorney, Nana Gyamfi. 

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When police took the woman into custody, Richards tried to start a riot, prosecutors said. Richards was arrested several days later after police reviewed evidence of the incident.

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A jury arrived at their verdict Wednesday, and Richards is scheduled to be sentenced next week in Pasadena.

Gyamfi said that she was disappointed by the verdict and that her client was only peacefully showing her opposition to police activity.

“What I tried to get the jury to do is not equate blackness with violence. Just because you see black bodies and the black bodies are angry or disappointed or angry or cussing, that is not a crime,” she said. “Unfortunately, I was not able to do that.”  

In the past, Richards has spoken out against the actions of police, including the killing of Kendrec McDade, a black 19-year-old who was shot while running away from two Pasadena police officers in 2012.

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The district attorney’s office cleared Officers Jeff Newlen and Matthew Griffin, who are white, of wrongdoing in the shooting.

However, a report by an independent consultant criticized the Police Department’s investigation into the killing. It found that investigators failed to ask Newlen and Griffin whether they considered warning McDade that they were about to use deadly force. It also found that officers were never asked why they didn’t activate a camera in their car during the chase.

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jason.song@latimes.com

@byjsong

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