A 20-year-old Sacramento woman who has been charged with “lynching” for her alleged actions at a January protest will return to court at the end of the month.
Maile Hampton was scheduled to enter a plea Thursday to the charges against her, which include the unusual and controversially named charge of lynching, which refers to the crime of trying to free a prisoner from police custody in the middle of a “riot,” or two or more people threatening to disturb the peace, according to California law.
The indictment of Hampton, a biracial woman, on the so-called lynching charge caught the attention of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who announced at a City Council meeting last week that he and state lawmakers have successfully lobbied to have the word removed from the California Penal Code.
About 30 of Hampton’s fellow activists showed up Thursday to support her at her brief court appearance.
Hampton’s attorney, Linda Parisi, asked that Hampton’s hearing be rescheduled because she was still waiting for police reports and other evidence from the prosecution. She said talks between her client and prosecutors have been ongoing. Hampton is to appear in court on April 30.
In most other cases where lynching charges have been brought against protesters – several activists involved in the Occupy movement across the state have been charged with the crime in recent years – the charges were ultimately dropped.
Parisi has said changing the language of the law stops short of fixing what she considers the real problem – that the state’s lynching law has been used to prosecute people outside of its original intent.
California’s lynching law was drafted in 1933 and intended to protect suspects in police custody, particularly black suspects, from being apprehended by vigilante mobs.
Hampton was part of a Jan. 18 protest against police use of force, relating to the deaths of several black men at the hands of law enforcement agencies across the country. Sacramento police spokesman Doug Morse has said that Hampton’s group was walking on the Capitol Mall and was told by officers to move to the sidewalk. Officers detained marchers who resisted, but as they arrested protesters, other marchers tried to pull fellow protesters away.
Police later identified Hampton as one of those who had tried to free marchers and issued a warrant for her arrest, Morse said. She spent one day in jail after police arrested her at home. She also has been charged with resisting arrest.
Call The Bee’s Marissa Lang at (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter at @Marissa_Jae.