You may count me among the skeptical. The Los Angeles Times reported Monday on a lawsuit filed by Melina Abdullah, cofounder of the L.A. chapter of Black Lives Matter, against the Los Angeles Police Department. The suit arises from an apparent “swatting” incident that occurred in August 2020, when someone called the LAPD to report he had taken hostages inside Abdullah’s Mid-City home. The caller threatened to start killing the hostages if he wasn’t paid a million dollars within the hour.
“Why are you holding them hostage?” asked the 911 operator.
“To send a message,” said the caller.
“What’s the message?”
“BLM is a bunch of retards.”
The call prompted the arrival of several LAPD cars and a helicopter at Abdullah’s house, where officers used a loudspeaker to instruct the occupants to come out. Once outside, Abdullah spoke with a police sergeant who, upon being satisfied the call was a hoax, left with his team of officers. No one was hurt or even touched by the police.
A terrible prank, surely, one that might have resulted in tragedy had parties on both sides not kept a cool head. But was it really a prank, or could it have been a publicity stunt?
Abdullah is, to understate things considerably, fond of media attention. She has for years been a regular at the weekly Los Angeles police commission meetings, where she revels in every opportunity to hector the police chief and the commissioners, often encouraging her fellow BLM supporters to disrupt the proceedings. She was one of the protesters who in March 2020 gathered before dawn at the home of now-former L.A. County district attorney Jackie Lacey. When one of the protesters knocked on Lacey’s front door, her husband answered armed with a pistol, which he pointed at the people on his doorstep. (He was prosecuted for a misdemeanor and entered into a diversion program.)
On the day of the swatting incident, Abdullah was to appear at a press conference at Cal State L.A., where she is a professor of Pan-African studies. The press conference was intended to address whatever her current grievance may have been at the time, and she took care to mention it while live-streaming the incident on her Instagram page.
In her lawsuit, Abdullah alleges she was the victim of unlawful seizure, false imprisonment, excessive force, assault, and negligence, claiming she was terrified that the police were going to shoot into her home and injure her children. She believes the police should have been aware of her identity and done more to verify the authenticity of the 911 call before coming to her home. The heavy police response, she says, was intended to retaliate against her for history of protests against them.
“Do you know who I am?” Abdullah asks the sergeant.
“I have no idea who you are,” he responds, apparently disappointing her that there is even a single one among the LAPD’s 10,000 officers who isn’t aware of her fame.
The incident is still under investigation, according to the L.A. Times, which dutifully reported Abdullah’s risible claims in the knowledge that the LAPD would not comment on a matter under pending litigation. This is standard procedure for the L.A. Times, especially for the story’s writer, child reporter Kevin Rector.
If you think this characterization is unkind or unfair to Rector, consider the picture accompanying his bio page on the paper’s website, a selfie of course. Note the emblems of deferred adulthood: the backwards ball cap, the backpack, and just the right amount of carefree stubble on his face. A wider shot would perhaps include the skateboard at his feet.
Rector’s assignment at the L.A. Times would seem to be writing stories that present the LAPD in as unfavorable a light as possible, presenting, as in this case, accusations of misconduct unadulterated by any actual reporting on, or even curiosity about, contrary evidence.
“It’s a setup,” Abdullah says on her Instagram video. “That was a setup.”
Indeed it was, but by whom? Don’t expect the L.A. Times to answer that question.