The arrest of a young woman involved in protests near the state Capitol last month has sparked further demonstrations and criticism by Mayor Kevin Johnson over the term used to describe the charges the woman is facing.
Maile Hampton, 20, was arrested at her home on Monday after Sacramento police said she tried to free a fellow protester from police custody at a Jan. 18 rally. Hampton faces a charge of felony “lynching,” the legal term associated with trying to free a prisoner from police custody. She also faces a charge of resisting arrest and is scheduled to be arraigned in Sacramento Superior Court on March 16, according to court records.
Hampton’s arrest drew more than two dozen protesters to Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Many of those in attendance held small white signs with the message “FREE MAILE!!”
Johnson appeared sympathetic toward the protesters, many of whom have become regulars at City Council meetings in recent weeks. Then, on Wednesday, the mayor made comments about Hampton’s arrest in a series of messages posted to Twitter.
“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.”
Hampton and others were participating in a counterprotest near the Capitol during a pro-law enforcement rally in January. Sacramento police spokesman Doug Morse said Hampton’s group was walking on Capitol Mall and was told by officers to walk on the sidewalk.
Some of the marchers agreed to walk on the sidewalk, but others resisted, Morse said. Those who resisted were detained by officers, he said.
As police were arresting protesters, some of the marchers tried to pull their friends out of custody. Morse said Hampton was later identified as one of the people who tried to free protesters and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
Hampton spent one night in jail and was released Tuesday night.
Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at www.sacbee.com/city-beat.