The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating an apparent prank call that brought armed officers Wednesday to the home of Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
An LAPD spokesman told City News Service that the case was being investigated as a “possible swatting.”
No one was injured, though Abdullah repeatedly expressed concern for the safety of her children and fear that officers would escalate the situation, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Abdullah began streaming live video via Instagram from her home shortly before 9 a.m., showing armed officers staging outside.
“I don’t know why they are here,” she says. “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 can 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.
Police told The Times that a call was made about a house on the block where Abdullah lives, near Crenshaw and West Washington boulevards, but would not specify whether they thought Abdullah was the intended target.
City Councilman Herb Wesson called for an immediate investigation into the incident.