‘Lynching’ Charges Dropped Against Protester in Sacramento

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Earlier this year the arrest of a young woman involved in “Black Lives Matter” protests sparked controversy and even criticism from Mayor Kevin Johnson, after the protester faced a felony charge of “lynching,” an archaic legal term used to describe the crime of attempting to free a prisoner from police custody.

On Thursday, the Sacramento County DA’s office dismissed the “lynching” charges at a hearing in the Sacramento Superior Court. The protester now faces a charge of resisting and impeding an arrest, Penal Code section 148, a misdemeanor, and will have a new hearing on May 21.

Maile Hampton, a 20-year-old African-American woman, was arrested for “lynching,” which stemmed from an anti-police brutality demonstration last January 18. Ms. Hampton is represented by prominent Sacramento defense attorney Linda Parisi.

At the time of her arrest, the mayor made a series of tweets.

“It is never ok for someone to interfere with the police, or try to remove someone who is in police custody,” the mayor wrote. “It is also the right of citizens to protest peacefully & make their voices heard like during public comments @ City Council Meetings. During public comments last night I was shocked to learn, in CA removing someone from police custody is defined as ‘lynching.’ The word ‘lynching’ has a long and painful history in our nation. It’s time to remove its use in CA Law.”

The crime “lynching” was put in place, ironically, to stop the lynching of blacks by whites who removed the individuals from police custody.

According to accounts in the Sacramento Bee, Ms. Hampton, along with many others, had been participating in a counter-protest near the Capitol to a pro-law enforcement rally in January. The police said that Ms. Hampton’s group was told by officers to walk on the sidewalk rather than the street. Some of the marchers refused and were detained by police.

As the police arrested protesters, some of the marchers attempted to pull their friends out of custody and Ms. Hampton, according to police, was one of the people identified who attempted to do so.

However, organizers such as Cres Vellucci of the National Lawyers Guild saw it differently. He said in a statement on Thursday, “Video of the incident Jan. 18 shows police pulling nonviolent activists out of line of marchers, and then violently throwing one arrested person to the ground. Activists were protesting a pro-police rally at the Capitol, but were illegally prevented from peacefully picketing on city streets near it. Sacramento City Police allowed everyone but demonstrators on the city streets, which is a violation of basic civil rights.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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18 thoughts on “‘Lynching’ Charges Dropped Against Protester in Sacramento”

  1. PhilColeman

    We’ve managed to milk the unfortunate and deceptive term, “Lynching,” for all its inflammatory value it could offer. Congrats to the Sacramento Mayor for taking such a bold stand and condemning Lynching. The greater value for the Mayor, however, is that he got his name in the news again, for which he a master.

    And in this column, we have the monochromatic, bold-print, dramatic, “Black Lives Matter,” logo just below the column title telling us the “Lynching” charges were dropped by the DA. Wonder what the implicit message was intended here.

    Now, to the one thing that is constructive in this topic, the actual law and its title. The ready solution is to drop the Lynching statute altogether, and make the 148 PC, a wobbler. In everyday language, the “Resisting Arrest” statute is amended to provide for a felony charge if the action is greater than a common misdemeanor level offense.

    For California Penal Code aficionados, there is another felony statute with an enticing title, “Mayhem.” It has a specific application to the larger body of assault categories. I actually had the occasion to enforce it twice, which might be a State record!

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “The ready solution is to drop the Lynching statute altogether, and make the 148 PC, a wobbler. In everyday language, the “Resisting Arrest” statute is amended to provide for a felony charge if the action is greater than a common misdemeanor level offense.”

      You do have PC 69 which is a wobbler. Although it generally includes resisting with force while 148 is more about obstructing or delaying.

  2. Tia Will

    “It is never ok for someone to interfere with the police, or try to remove someone who is in police custody”

    “Never” is a very big word. What is our obligation if we see police acting in unlawful ways themselves ? There are now many instances recorded in which police are caught on tape beating already restrained individuals. Do we merely have an obligation to record ? Is there any point in which it is ok to attempt to come to the aide of an individual being needlessly physically harmed by the police.

    What would my obligation be as a doctor in an instance in which medical care that I could provide was being delayed by police inaction ?  Would I not have an obligation to step up and attempt to staunch bleeding from a police induced wound if they were not summoning medical aide ? Would I not have an obligation to perform CPR on an individual that they were not assisting if he had been tasered and appeared not to be breathing.

    What about a private citizen witnessing a child being physically harmed by the police. No obligation to attempt to shield the child ?

    I believe that the police deserve out utmost respect when they are behaving justly. When they are breaking the law, or using unjustified force, they have in my opinion broken their covenant with the public and are no more worthy of respect and support than any other individual. While it would be neither prudent nor safe to interfere, it would definitely be not only “ok” but the morally correct action in these instances.

    Your thoughts Phil ?

     

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      There was a white man who recently escaped police custody in southern california on horseback, was eventually caught, and beaten for an extended period – including kicks to the groin and head while not resisting arrest – all videotaped from a news helicopter.

      No one here probably even knows his name. Does police conduct towards European-Americans not matter?

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        His name is Francis Pusok and he settled a lawsuit for $650,000 without the county admitting liability or guilt. I’m guessing he couldn’t afford the legal costs of taking the case forward through trial and the county officials believe they got off cheap. The cost of justice is a major obstacle to justice – but good for him that he took the initiative and received at least some compensation.

        Clearly the abuse of power by bad cops is not always motivated by racism, just by a lust for power and sociopathic attitudes – not to mention obliviousness to the presence of video cameras (or a helicopter, in this case). Let’s hear it for video cameras and a free press!! Oink!

    2. Biddlin

      I can tell you what will happen to anyone who tries to stop an officer in the instances you cite: You will be beaten, tased, arrested, possibly shot and/or killed. Once you disagree with and/or disobey the officer(s), you are “them.” It is precisely because of these testosterone fueled expressions of the officers’ fears or political/social views, that we need to limit the police’ access, legally and physically, to deadly force and demand cameras on all on-duty officers, exceptions being undercover officers who’s safety would be compromised.

      ;>)/

  3. zaqzaq

    Tia,

    Advocating for citizens to interfere in police arrests is dangerous and only has the potential to escalate the situation.  The subjective opinion of an individual as to what force or behavior is legal and then individually determining when it is appropriate to intervene by entering the struggle is just dangerous for all individuals involved.

  4. Tia Will

    Advocating for citizens to interfere in police arrests is dangerous and only has the potential to escalate the situation”

    I take exception to your use of the word “only”.  Your statement assumes that the police will chose escalation over de escalation which is clearly not the best option when a serious injury in involved. I think that in some instances, it might have the possibility of being life saving if the police would do the right thing and allow appropriate intervention to occur.

    Once again I would pose the example of a rapidly hemorrhaging individual. If I clearly identify myself as a doctor, beg to be allowed to provide assistance, would the most reasonable course for the police be to allow me to help, or to keep me back ?  Is my higher moral obligation to the individual whose life is in jeopardy, or to a blind adherence to authority ?  A few years ago, I would not have believed that there would be deliberate neglect by the police of a fatally injured suspect…..now we know better.

    “The state’s attorney of Baltimore, in a unexpected announcement, said Friday that she had probable cause to file homicide, manslaughter and misconduct charges against the police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, who died after sustaining a spinal cord injury while in police custody.”

    Let’s take a medical example that another poster cited. If a surgeon is about to amputate the wrong leg and a janitor has overheard the patient stating that other leg was about to be amputated, should that janitor not “interfere” to make sure the right procedure was being done ? It is clearly not his job to do so, but it is clear that is his moral obligation. What should the surgeon do, insist that he knows better ?  Or check to ensure that he is doing the right procedure ? Escalate by shouting at the janitor ? Or consider that maybe, just maybe it is his error that might cost the patient the wrong limb ? For me these are clear cut instances of professional hubris causing harm and that the error should always be on the side of safety. No exceptions….not for doctors and not for police.

     

    1. hpierce

      A) unless  Phil = zaqzaq, you responded to the wrong poster. [I see this was corrected]

      B) using your analogy, pointing out to the officer, before the ‘arrest’ is fully underway, that they are arresting the wrong person is one thing.  How would you react if the janitor was pointing out the ‘wrong leg’ problem by trying to snatch the patient off the operation table shortly after you completed your initial incision?

      Information sharing is one thing.  The case involves physical intervention, not verbal.  Doubt there would have been charges if the intervention was verbal only.

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        How would you react if the janitor was pointing out the ‘wrong leg’ problem by trying to snatch the patient off the operation table shortly after you completed your initial incision?”

        With extreme gratitude if that were the only action which would have kept me from making such a horrific error. An incision on the wrong leg is embarrassing. An amputation of the wrong leg is a tragedy.

        One example of physical intervention for which I was very grateful and thanked her personally and profusely. When starting a surgery, I had heard the anesthesiologist give me the ok to start my incision. What I had not heard, was his subsequent comment “No, wait” when he recognized that the patient was not fully asleep. My scrub nurse however had heard him and seeing my hand coming down with the knife, reached out and grabbed my wrist. This is clearly a breech of operating room protocol…… and I could hardly thank her enough.

         

  5. Napoleon Pig IV

    “Video of the incident Jan. 18 shows police pulling nonviolent activists out of line of marchers, and then violently throwing one arrested person to the ground.”

    Can we at least agree that video lies less often than government employees?

    Note as well that we are brainwashed into believing that “taking the law into one’s own hands” is somehow a bad thing, when actually that concept originated in Europe several centuries ago as a technique for landowners and petty sovereigns to extract tribute from serfs. Of course it is “dangerous” to interfere with a police arrest, but there is no fundamental difference between an individual citizen’s “subjective opinion . . . as to what force or behavior is legal. . . and appropriate” and the same “subjective opinion” of a police officer who elects to use force. The political difference is that the latter is sanctioned by the government and the former is not.

    As long as government employees abuse their power, citizens will fight back, sometimes with words, sometimes with lawyers, and sometimes with weapons.

    Oink!

     

  6. Tia Will

    As long as government employees abuse their power, citizens will fight back, sometimes with words, sometimes with lawyers, and sometimes with weapons.”

    I  am all for citizens fighting back with words and lawyers and protective actions. Weapons….not at all. The use of violence ( or excessive force) often has completely unintended consequences.

    However, there is a gray zone for me. Let’s take the campus pepper spraying incident as an example. If the officer has announced his intention to spray peacefully seated demonstrators and I see this as a bystander what is my obligation ?  If I have a jacket or other barrier, am I interfering if I hand that to a protestor ?  Is it my right to do so as long as I am not directly but only indirectly impeding the police whose clear intent is to inflict pain and potentially injury on peaceful protestors ?  What if I am an individual who is knowledgeable about the appropriate and inappropriate use of this particular type of canister and am aware the officer is about to act in error ?  Now what is my obligation ? Would I not, in fact, being doing all including the officer himself a favor by interfering and preventing him from making this huge mistake ? Police do not gain omniscience when they put on their badge any more than doctors do when they earn their license. It is up to all of us to act morally in the face of authority, especially when we see that the “authority” is in error.

     

     

    1. Napoleon Pig IV

      Your hypothetical questions are quite good, and should be part of police officer training as well as the general education of informed citizens encouraged to cultivate and use the skills of critical thinking.

      I, too, am opposed to the use of weapons and force – at least as a first, or maybe even as a second, resort. However, there does come a time when weapons are appropriate. Wouldn’t it have been a good thing if the assassination attempt against Hitler had been successful? Wouldn’t it have been a good thing if Stalin had been killed before he murdered millions of people? What about Pol Pot? Is there any difference between execution and assassination other than who gives the orders?

      To extend your line of questioning a bit, what if the protester you hand your jacket to uses it as a garrotte and proceeds to choke the pepper-spray wielding police officer – but only after he sprays the adjacent protester? What if the adjacent protester is the garrotte wielding protester’s husband? (And yes, women can turn ordinary objects into weapons as well as men can). Are you then at fault for providing a protester with an offensive weapon, or was the only scumbag in the equation the police officer who should never have attacked the protesters in the first place? I’m quite sure the moral answer is not the same as the legal answer, and therein lies the need for individuals to make their own decisions rather than merely bleating with the sheep in compliance with the porcine law-givers. Oink!

  7. Tia Will

    Wouldn’t it have been a good thing if the assassination attempt against Hitler had been successful? Wouldn’t it have been a good thing if Stalin had been killed before he murdered millions of people? What about Pol Pot? Is there any difference between execution and assassination other than who gives the orders?”

    Too black and white for me. What would have been ideal is if all three of them been recognized for the evil that their actions represented and incapacitated  and isolated from society before they had the chance to gain influence. As to your final question, to me there is not. Nor is there a moral difference to me between the actions of “terrorists” and the actions of “freedom fighters” if those acts are violent. Planes flown into civilian work areas leave people exactly as dead as do bombs dropped on civilian cities.

    Killing is killing whether done by the police acting outside the law or by criminals shooting police. We can justify the actions of either side with the spin of our words. The dead remain dead.

    1. Napoleon Pig IV

      Tia, very well said! To my surprise and mild disappointment (since I enjoy debate and satire), I can’t disagree with anything you wrote (this time) 🙂  Oink!

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