The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating an apparent “swatting” call that brought armed officers today to the Mid-City home of Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
Officers were sent shortly before 9 a.m. to Abdullah’s home near Crenshaw and West Washington boulevards on a call that three people were being held hostage by a man with a gun, according to the LAPD.
“After the officers were able to verify the safety of the residents, the on-scene investigation determined the call was a hoax,” according to an LAPD statement that said the Major Crimes Division will assist in the investigation.
While police were at the scene, Abdullah repeatedly expressed concern for the safety of her children and fear that officers would escalate the situation, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Streaming live video via Instagram showing armed officers staging outside, she said: “I don’t know why they are here. They have guns pointed at my house. There’s a helicopter overhead. Nobody’s knocked at the door, but apparently, they’ve made announcements for people to come out with our hands up. My children are in the house. My children are in the house. I don’t know what this is.”
An officer on a loudspeaker could then be heard specifically identifying Abdullah’s address from outside, before saying, “Come out with your hands up. … You are surrounded.”
About an hour later, Abdullah spoke about the incident at an event designed to show support for naming her dean of a new school of ethnic studies at Cal State Los Angeles, where she is a professor of Pan-African Studies.
According to KPCC/LAist reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, she told attendees that officers told her they responded to a call of a hostage situation.
“We believe it’s another tactic that’s being used to block us from ushering in Black freedom,” she said.
Swatting refers to a prank emergency call made to attract armed police to a particular address without cause — a dangerous act given the potential confusion it causes among all parties and the history of tactical teams using deadly force.
City Councilman Herb Wesson called for an immediate investigation into the incident.