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Police Swarm Black Lives Matter-LA Co-Founder's Home After False Kidnapping Call

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Black Lives Matter L.A. leader and Cal State LA educator Dr. Melina Abdullah speaks at a press conference demanding Abdullah become the dean of Ethnic Studies on the morning her home was swarmed by LAPD. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Los Angeles police swarmed the home of Black Lives Matter L.A. co-founder Melina Abdullah this morning. She livestreamed the incident on Instagram in what appeared to be a false call meant to draw armed law enforcement to her home.

In the video, an officer on scene explains to Abdullah that the police had received a call saying someone was holding her and her family hostage, and that this man wanted a million dollars or he would kill them in an hour. It appeared to be a "swatting" incident — when someone places a false 911 call in an attempt to draw a large, armed law enforcement response, often by a S.W.A.T. team.

The incident came on the same morning Abdullah was scheduled to speak to the press about a campaign to appoint her as dean of the new College of Ethnic Studies at Cal State L.A., where she teaches.

At that event, Abdullah talked about the swatting incident, saying: “We don’t even believe that [LAPD] got that call. We believe it’s yet another tactic that’s being used to block us from ushering in black freedom and, by extension, freedom for all people."

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In the video, which lasts about 12 minutes, Abdullah points the camera through her window, revealing patrol cars outside and officers standing in tactical gear. She can be heard saying that they are pointing guns at her house. Eventually, she makes her way outside, where she speaks with the assembled officers, at least one of whom is carrying what looks like a semi-automatic rifle. The police left after Abdullah explained that there was no hostage situation.

“We looked out the front window, and two officers stood and put their assault rifles and pointed them directly at us," Abdullah said at Cal State L.A. "And I realized they came for me. And they called out my address, said everyone needed to come out with their hands up ... I was afraid -- and I don’t use that word often. I was concerned that if I didn’t come out that my children might be in danger.”

Abdullah has been at the forefront of recent protests against police violence in L.A. and has called for the defunding of law enforcement.

The video was no longer available to stream as of publication. Abdullah said she removed it because her revealed her home address.

Abdullah chairs the department of Pan-African Studies at Cal State L.A. She and her supporters have been sharply critical of the appointment of longtime Asian American legal advocate Stewart Kwoh as interim dean of the College of Ethnic Studies while a search is conducted for a permanent dean.

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Kwoh is the founding president and past executive director of the legal and civil rights organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles. (Full disclosure: Kwoh is a life trustee of the board of Southern California Public Radio.)

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