#BlackLivesMatter Organizer Facing Terrorism Charge

Alissa Kokkins

April 1, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Pasadena, CA – On Monday, March 30th, Jasmine Richards aka #BLMDena, a 28 year-old organizer with Black Lives Matter, was arrested by Pasadena Police Department. She is currently being held on $90,000 bail and multiple charges, including “making terrorist threats”. Here’s what happened according to this press release from #BlackLivesMatter-LA:

Just hours before Jasmine Richards was slated to attend the Pasadena City Council meeting and share new information from the Office of Independent Review’s Gennaco report on the police killing of Kendrec McDade, police officers took Jasmine into custody.

Initially citing a “failure to appear” charge, police later amended that with charges of making “terrorist threats”, trespassing, petty theft, assault and evading the police. Black Lives Matter organizers believe these charges to be in response to Richards’ participation in a peaceful demonstration held in Pasadena just six days prior to her arrest. The demonstration, held on March 24th in collaboration with Kendrec McDade’s mother Anya Slaughter, on the anniversary of her son’s death, was part of a heightened demand for answers in McDade’s killing and the public release of the Gennaco report in its entirety.

Jasmine Richards is a young woman who has overcome the harsh realities of Pasadena and emerged as a leader in the local movement against police violence. She is exactly who we hope our young people will become: strong, caring, compassionate, and dedicated to fighting for justice for Black people everywhere. Jasmine became a member-organizer of Black Lives Matter after her participation in the BLM Freedom Ride to Ferguson in August 2014. Since her return to Pasadena from Ferguson, she has been pivotal in making sure that Anya Slaughter, and other family members of those who have been murdered or brutalized by the Pasadena police, are connected to and centered in the Black Lives Matter movement. Jasmine recently became engaged to her partner of 3 years, April, who is both devastated and infuriated by the persistent targeting of Jasmine by Pasadena police.

“As an active member of Black Lives Matter – Pasadena, Jasmine Richards’ activism against police brutality has made her a highly visible target for police harassment. These current charges are an attempt by law enforcement officials to mis-characterize Jasmine and undermine her work as a galvanizing force in the Black community of Pasadena.” – Melina Abdullah, organizer, Black Lives Matter

This isn’t the first time Black Lives Matter activists have been surveilled and discriminated against by police. Recently, Black Lives Matter organizers in Minneapolis were not only arrested for their 2014 disruption at the Mall of America– the group was also infiltrated by intelligence officers. Activists are now facing charges of unlawful assembly, public nuisance, disorderly conduct, trespassing, and restitution fees in upwards of $60,000. Similarly, Black Lives Matter activists in Oakland, dubbed the Black Friday 14, are currently fighting excessive criminal charges for shutting down the Oakland BART in November of last year.

“Across the country, Black organizers are being targeted for surveillance, harassment, and heightened charges. But, the implications to freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble impact everyone. Anyone with a conscience and a commitment to democracy can see that.” – Melina Abdullah

Black Lives Matter activists believe that the history of brutality, pattern of racial discrimination, and lingering questions in the police murder of Kendrec McDade, warrant an investigation of the Pasadena Police Department, and the immediate release of Jasmine Richards.

The demonstration where Jasmine’s charges allegedly took place was “ALL OUT for Kendrec McDade,” a rally she organized on the three year anniversary of Kendrec McDade’s murder. Considering the story she herself tells about what officers from the Pasadena Police did to Kendrec, it is a sick irony that Jasmine is being charged with terrorism.

Kendrec McDade was brutally executed by Pasadena police officers Newlen and Griffin on March 24, 2012. After shooting Kendrec 8 times without even bothering to get out of their patrol car, the police then ran over his body and left him bleeding in the street for an hour and a half…no call for paramedics, not even a call to his mother who he cried for as he was dying. Instead, his mother had to learn of the death of her 19 year-old, college student son in the newspaper the next day.March 24th marks the anniversary of the day Kendrec left this physical plane. It’s not the end of his Spirit. His Soul lives on and drives us to demand justice. THE COMMUNITY DEMANDS THAT OFFICERS NEWLEN AND GRIFFIN BE FIRED AND THAT DA JACKIE LACEY FILE MURDER CHARGES AGAINST THEM.Raise your voice! All our lives are at risk if we stand silent.
#BlackLivesMatter Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles
– #BLMDena

Ayana Slaughter & Jasmine Richards

To support Jasmine Richards please donate to her bail and legal fund here, and CALL 626-744-4565 ext. 6 to demand Jasmine Richards be released immediately! Jasmine is set to be arraigned today in Pasadena.

With approximately one person killed per week by police, Los Angeles County is reputed to have the deadliest cops in the nation. 615+ people have been killed by Los Angeles County Law Enforcement since 2000, the details of which can be found in this “Don’t Shoot to Kill” report via the Youth Justice Coalition. Tired of a lack of accountability from the state, Los Angelenos will be marching with 615 coffins from the North, South, East and West sides of Los Angeles in a #DeathByCop #RememberMe march on Tuesday April 7, that will converge at the L.A. County Board of Supervisors office in downtown Los Angeles. They will also be paying a visit to District Attorney Jackey Lacey’s office to demand justice and dignity for those slain by police. The demonstration is organized and endorsed by social justice groups across the city, including S.T.O.P. Police Violence, Black Lives Matter – LA, and Youth Justice Coalition. For more info, check out the Facebook invite.

#BlackLivesMatter-Los Angeles (#BLM-LA) is the local chapter of the national Black Lives Matter movement, an organization fighting to end state-sanctioned violence against Black communities throughout the world. Please follow @BLMLA on Twitter for the latest developments.

via #BlackLivesMatter Organizer Facing Terrorism Charge. ANTIMEDIA

Strike the Debt: Number of People Refusing to Pay Back Student Loans Swelling

 

Jon Queally

March 31, 2015

(COMMONDREAMS) ‘It’s been a month since 15 former students of the failing for-profit giant Corinthian Colleges said they would not pay a dime of their student loans because the school broke the law.’

From an original group of 15 individuals no longer willing to pliantly suffer under the crushing financial burden created by the costs of higher education, the movement challenging that nation’s student debt epidemic has now grown to more than 80 people who say they will stop making loan payments in protest of the predatory practices of for-profit colleges and the larger student loan model.

As the Washinton Post‘s Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reports:

Remember those 15 people who refused to repay their federal student loans? Their “debt strike” has picked up 85 more disgruntled borrowers willing to jeopardize their financial future to pressure the government into forgiving their student loans.

 

And the government is starting to listen. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has invited the group to Washington on Tuesday to discuss their demand for debt cancellation. Although the CFPB doesn’t have the power to grant that request, the agency’s overture shows that the strike is being taken seriously.

 

It’s been a month since 15 former students of the failing for-profit giant Corinthian Colleges said they would not pay a dime of their student loans because the school broke the law.

As their numbers are growing, members of the Debt Collective, which is organizing the campaign, have been in Washington, DC this week to meet with lawmakers, members of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Department of Education. The group expressed desire to get an audince with Education Secretary Arne Duncans to press their case and advocate on behalf of others, but that meeting seems unlikely.

“It’s in the [DOE’s] interest to discuss this,” Luke Herrine, a Debt Collective organizer, told the Washington Post. “I don’t think they want more than 100 students refusing to pay their loans publicly. I don’t think that’s a good thing for them.”

Earlier this month, Hollie Chaffee and other members of the original Corinthian 15, came together in this video to explain why they’re striking their loans and why the movement to change how we finance higher education in America is such a vital issue—not only for them personally—but for students worried about the rising costs of college and the worrisom amounts of debt that have become the norm.

 

 

via Strike the Debt: Number of People Refusing to Pay Back Student Loans Swelling.

Photo Credit: Poster Boy

 

Cannabis is Not a Crime: Judge to Rule on Weed’s ‘Schedule 1’ Status Next Month

Derrick Broze

March 31, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) A federal judge might finally free Cannabis from the clutches of the federal government’s archaic scheduling system which claims the plant has no medicinal value.

Lawyers with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) are working to convince a federal judge in Sacramento, California that the federal government’s Schedule I classification for Cannabis is unconstitutional. Schedule I substances are defined as a “high potential for abuse”, and “no currently accepted medical use.” The team of lawyers have filed a motion asking the judge to find the scheduling to be at odds with scientific research which has found an abundance of positive health effects from Cannabis.

As Counter Current News points out, this is the first time since the 1970’s that a federal judge has heard evidence conflicting the view that Cannabis is not a medicine.

“The defense attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke of the NORML Legal Committee, along with experts in the field who argue that the plant is safe and should be legal at least for medical use, presented evidence over a five-day period. They contend that “numerous clinical trials have been conducted using whole plant marijuana and have concluded the evidence strongly suggests therapeutic value.

“Physicians in 23 states and the District of Columbia have been recommending whole plant cannabis for treatment of a myriad of medical conditions. The United States, through SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of HHS), holds a patent [on the therapeutic utility of the plant],” they continued.

The judge heard closing arguments and will rule on the case within the next month.

The case is United States v. Pickard, et. al., No. 2:11-CR-0449-KJM, and the legal briefs for it are all available online here.

via Cannabis is Not a Crime: Judge to Rule on Weed’s ‘Schedule 1’ Status Next Month. ANTIMEDIA

Photo Credit: Carlos Gracia