A 20-year-old woman of color in Sacramento has been hit with an antiquated “lynching” charge after she and other demonstrators clashed with police during a counterprotest against a law enforcement rally, the Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday.
Maile Hampton was arrested on Jan. 18 after police asked her protest group to move away from the city’s Capitol Mall and onto the sidewalk. Some marchers who resisted the command were detained by police, prompting Hampton and others to try to pull them out of custody. That’s when Hampton was charged with lynching and resisting arrest, the Bee reports.
Now, state and local elected officials have banded together with protesters to have the charge removed from the books. In California law, the report notes, the charge is associated with “trying to free a prisoner from police custody in the midst of a ‘riot,’ or two or more people threatening to disturb the peace.”
“It’s ironic that this code section was designed and passed to protect, primarily, African Americans from vigilante justice,” said Linda Parisi, Hampton’s attorney. “But that’s not how it’s being used.”
This disconnect between the images the word “lynching” conjures – violent attacks and hangings of men and women by angry mobs – inspired local and state lawmakers to propose changing the language used in the law…
Hampton is not the first protester to be slapped with the decades-old crime. According to media reports, several protesters involved in the Occupy movement had been charged with “lynching” from Oaklandto Los Angeles over the past five years. Most of these cases resulted in prosecutors dropping the charges.
On its face, the charge does not appear to fit the crime. What do you think? Sound off in the comments…