L.A. Drops Charges Against Black Lives Matter Leader Melina Abdullah After Public Outcry

L.A. Drops Charges Against Black Lives Matter Leader Melina Abdullah After Public Outcry

Melina Abdullah
Melina Abdullah, talks during a Black Lives Matter rally in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. Family, friends and community activists held the rally and a march for the recent deaths of a few homeless Black men, according to Black Lives Matter. They were also gathering for the death of another man killed in a shooting earlier in the year. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

All eight criminal charges have been dropped against Melina Abdullah, a Cal State professor, activist and critic of Los Angeles police brutality, after
hundreds of sympathizers filled courtrooms, led rallies and filed petitions accusing the city of trying to silence its critics.

A co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, Abdullah often speaks out against Los Angeles Police Department policies according to the L.A. Times. She was charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, disturbing a public meeting and unlawful assembly during the city’s civilian Police Commission meetings in 2017 and 2018.

Abdullah demanded justice for Wakiesha Wilson, 36, who was found dead in LAPD custody in March 2016. Wilson committed suicide, according to law enforcement. Her family claims she would not have taken her own life.

At a hearing, an unknown powdery substance was thrown at L.A. police chief Charlie Beck. Police accused Abdullah of assault after she allegedly grabbed an officer’s arm during the commotion, L.A. Times reported. Abdullah was arrested.

The “assault” was disrespectful to the office of the chief of police, Beck said in a statement.

“These charges seek to criminalize black protests and attempt to silence a loud, often angry, voice,” Abdullah’s attorney, Carl E. Douglas, wrote in a recent court filing.

The L.A. city attorney agreed to dismiss all eight charges against Abdulla but she can be arrested if she refuses to leave Police Commission meetings when asked to do so.

“For the past four years, (Abdullah) has organized the grieving families of people killed by police, or who died in police custody, into a formidable group of advocates seeking deep changes to policing in Los Angeles,” Land Mag reported.

The entire aim of the prosecution was to “ensure that Commission meetings are not disrupted in ways that prevent other members of the public from participating while protecting individuals’ right to say what they mean,” said Rob Wilcox, spokesman for the city attorney’s office, in an email to L.A. Times.

Abdullah declared a victory and credited her supporters with helping pressure the city attorney’s office into a surrender.

“We have changed the culture in Los Angeles as it deals with protest,”  Douglas said. “No longer will black protest be criminalized. Because the rules that have now been set in place are very important for anyone who may want to protest at the Police Commission.” “