Jasmine Richards, Black Queer Woman and Activist, Going to Jail For “Lynching”

Hey, last week I was on a mountain with limited internet access so I really didn’t know what was going on in the world. It’s been hard getting reacquainted with reality to say the least. Anyway, here’s your regularly scheduled news fix! 


Law & Order

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Jasmine Richards

+ Jasmine Richards, 28-year-old black woman and founder of Pasadena’s Black Lives Matter movement was convicted of a “felony lynching,” a technical term in California penal code that refers to “the taking by means of a riot of another person from the lawful custody of a peace officer.” The name of the crime was recently changed in 2015 but the conviction time remains the same. Richards was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years probation.

In August 2015, a restaurant owner called police claiming an unidentified black woman had walked out of the restaurant without paying. The woman joined Richards and other activists at La Pintoresca Park who were there for a peaceful demonstration for Kendrec McDade, a 19-year-old black teen killed by Pasadena police in 2012. When police showed up at the demonstration to arrest the woman, Richards and other activists tried to pull the woman out of the police’s hands. “Clearly this is a political prosecution,” Richards’s attorney, Nana Gyamfi, told Vox. “Its intention is to stop people from organizing, and from speaking out and challenging the system. There’s a political message that’s been sent by both the prosecutor and the police and, by conviction, the jury.”

Richards’ fiancee, April Sagarra, is devastated by her partner’s conviction. The couple have been together for five years and engaged for three. “It’s difficult. It’s heartbreaking,” she told The Advocate. “It’s just something I didn’t imagine happening. I fear for her. … I just don’t know what the police are going to do.”

+ So on one hand we have a black woman activist being arrested and charged for watching out for her community and on another hand we have a 20-year-old white dude rapist who gets a paltry 6 months in prison for his crime. That’s the American criminal justice system for you! Brock Turner, a 20-year-old former Stanford student, was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison but on Thursday he was sentenced to just 6 months in a county jail and probation. The judge said a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on poor Turner, who was apparently destined to be an Olympic swimmer. (That dream is down the drain now, according to USA Swimming.) On Thursday, the survivor of the sexual assault addressed Turner in the courtroom about the severe impact of his actions on her life and gave Buzzfeed permission to publish her statement, which has now gone viral. 

“My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either…I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial, that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.”

+ A federal judge ruled that players on the U.S. women’s soccer team aren’t allowed to strike before the Rio Olympics as per their collective bargaining agreement. The case over the union contract is different from the complaint filed by high-profile players Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo over wage discrimination. NPR reports:

“The status of the players’ labor agreement had been in dispute: It expired at the end of 2012 but was extended by a memorandum of understanding that the players association had recently threatened to end if “significant progress” wasn’t made in talks for a new contract.

Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman’s ruling in Illinois’ Northern District removes the possibility that the American women might refuse to play in this summer’s Rio Olympics as part of the maneuvering over their union contract. The specter of a work stoppage led U.S. Soccer to file a complaint in early February, seeking a court order to prevent a potential strike. As a result, the players will now continue to operate under the terms of a CBA that dates to 2005″

Crime

+ A man named Mainak Sarkar shot and killed his former UCLA professor William Klug on the university’s Westwood campus and then killed himself. Hours later, the authorities found Sarkar’s wife Ashley Hasti’s dead body in her Minnesota home.

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Amos Beede

+ Amos Beede, a 38-year-old trans man, was found beaten and unconscious in Burlington, Vt. near a homeless encampment and died a week later from his injuries. San Diego police arrested four suspects in connection with Beede’s assault and death: two men and two women all transients in their early twenties. Police initially thought Beede was beaten and killed because he was trans but now they’re saying the attack was an escalation of an argument between two different homeless encampments. Beede wasn’t homeless but frequently helped out homeless folks. Beede is the 13th trans person to be killed this year.

+ A 47-year-old trans woman was walking in Queens late one night when a man stopped her and asked for a sexual favor. When she declined and walked away, he slashed her stomach with a box cutter and ran away. She was taken to a hospital and underwent surgery for the wound.

+ A trans woman in Houston was attacked by a 23-year-old man named Denzel Boone. The trans woman who is not being identified at this moment told police she posted an ad on an anonymous dating website and Boone replied to her ad. They met at an apartment then Boone proceeded to sexually assault and rob the woman and severely injuring her. Boone is wanted on suspicion of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Police are also looking into a possible connection with other crimes.

Election

+ The Associated Press projected that Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee a whole day before the polls close in major states like California. The New York Times reports: “The A.P. declared Mrs. Clinton the presumptive nominee by reaching out to superdelegates who had not announced which candidate they were supporting, and confirming that enough were backing Mrs. Clinton to get her to the magic number of 2,383.” I honestly don’t know how these superdelegates work so if you’ve got links to explain all this to me, that would be great. Also, Bernie said he’s not gonna drop out till the end. 

A woman made motivational posters to sell to Trump supporters and will give the proceeds to Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. The poster quotes a line from Voldemort and his face glows in the dark when you turn out the lights.

+ You’re not gonna like this news but somebody has to tell you. Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus endorses Donald Trump for president. Marcus wrote an essay about his beliefs and talked about how Home Depot, which opened in 1978, wouldn’t be able to survive if it were founded today. “We could not do this today, for the same reason why so many Americans have dropped out of the workforce, why their wages have been stagnant, why their health care is a mess, and why our economy has stalled. It’s Obama/Clinton-style government that’s getting in the way.”

Grab Bag

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Maya Dillard Smith

+ Maya Dillard Smith, the interim director of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, resigned from her position because she doesn’t support the organization’s fight for transgender rights. Smith believes the ACLU is fighting for the rights of trans people to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender at the expense of women and children’s safety. Smith accuses the ACLU of being “a special interest organization that promotes not all, but certain progressive rights.  In that way, it is a special interest organization not unlike the conservative right, which creates a hierarchy of rights based on who is funding the organization’s lobbying activities.”

+ Kenneth C. Williamson, a professor at Texas A&M University is accusing Aggie Allies, an LGBT organization on campus, of “sexual harassment” for sending him an email via Listserv announcing an upcoming workshop. Instead of deleting the email or unsuscribing from the email blast, Williamson replied all: “Do not send me anymore messages dealing with this organization. Take me out of your list. I consider it obscene and a form of sexual harassment.”

+ The Department of Veterans Affairs has quietly proposed lifting it’s ban on coverage for gender confirmation surgery, TIME reports. The ban has been in place since the 1990s and in 2011, the VA announced a new policy of medically necessary health care for trans people which didn’t include gender confirmation surgery because it listed it as “cosmetic” and not medically necessary. Not all trans people need or want gender confirmation surgery but it definitely helps with gender dysphoria and has been deemed medically necessary by the American Medical Association and other top medical groups. There is still a long road ahead before the ban is lifted. The federal Office of Management and Budget will need to review and approve the proposal and then open it up for public comment which can take up nearly two years.

+ James Dobson, a Christian right wing leader and founder of two anti-LGBT groups, wrote a column for WND suggesting to shoot trans women who enter a public women’s restroom or facility. Dobson writes a lot of awful things and imagines a bunch of “bathroom predator” scenarios and makes a call to arms. “If you are a married man with any gumption, surely you will defend your wife’s privacy and security in restroom facilities…” he writes. “If this had happened 100 years ago, someone might have been shot. Where is today’s manhood? God help us!”

+ A lesbian couple in Melbourne, Australia were called faggots and faced anti-gay verbal harassment from their Uber driver. The women recorded part of his tirade and he was fired from his job.

+ A trans guest complained to Airbnb privately in 2015 about a host who discriminated against her and didn’t allow her to stay in her home because of her gender. Airbnb didn’t do anything about the host and instead the host became a “super host” not too long after the incident. Then recently, Shadi Petosky, producer of the children’s show Yo Gabba Gabba and creator of the new Amazon show Danger & Eggs, tweeted a screenshot of an interaction with the host denying her stay because of her gender. The host cited she didn’t want her 13-year-old son to be around a trans person and feel uncomfortable in his own home. Airbnb responded quickly and fired the host.

Yvonne S. Marquez is a lesbian journalist and former Autostraddle senior editor living in Dallas, TX. She writes about social justice, politics, activism and other things dear to her queer Latina heart. Yvonne was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter. Read more of her work at yvonnesmarquez.com.

Yvonne has written 205 articles for us.

9 Comments

  1. I’m curious to know how the hell can these tell if a person is trans or not? I’ve meet a few out trans people, and some have passing privilege(can’t think of a better way to phrase this, while some don’t. Then there are all the masculine of center/butch women, who may get mistaken for trans woman(as it has been happening). Then what happens if they are in a state with lax gun laws and the shot wasn’t fatal or misses, and the trans woman fights back in self-defense, say she has a taser, pepper spray, or an sharp object(seen one twoc post pics of what’s inside her bag, which included an ice-pick). Then what?

  2. From the article about the prof at A&M:
    “The College of Architecture has an entire section on its website devoted to supporting diversity.”

    I was just reading Sarah Amed’s blog posts about resigning from Goldsmiths University in protest over how sexual harassment is (or isn’t) addressed. She talks in one post about how a committee voted to change policy to require diversity training for any members of a panel at the university but the policy is just ignored, in part because HR said they didn’t have the resources. So on paper, there is a nice policy. In practice, nothing changes.

    It’s easy to make diversity statements and webpages, but actually making the effort to create a safe work culture for everyone? Keep up the work Aggie Allies, there’s a lot left to do at most universities.

    At the very least, someone teach that professor how Reply-All works and how you should almost never use it.

  3. Pretty sure Maya Smith doesn’t know what women’s rights are, what intersectionality is, or how to do her job. At least she figured out the right thing to do (For the ACLU and people of the U.S.) was for her to leave her job. No doubt she’ll go join other TERFs and work with Republicans to destroy everyone. =P

    Now, can’t James Dobson be charged with SOMETHING for encouraging MURDER?

    • Why do you think Maya Smith is a TERF? I don’t see anything to indicate that she is a feminist, just that she is making a career move. She seems to be trying to raise funds for being a talking head, presumably against trans* people. I feel the grift coming on. She’s no doubt aware of the fact that gullible religious people will give money to just about anything, including pizza parlors and bakeries, and wants in on the action.

  4. My wife’s co-worker brought to our attention that bathroom activism beginning by mentioning she was worried for me since I am a masculine lesbian and at 6 ft tall have been mistaken for a male my entire life. We live in TX and I’m actually getting paranoid about using public bathrooms. In my life I’ve heard, “I don’t think you’re in the right bathroom.”, uncountable times, and now I’m worried some free-carry person will think they are doing “god’s work”. F

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