Los Angeles police are investigating the attempted “swatting,” or making a hoax emergency call to send heavily-armed police to an address, of a local Black Lives Matter activist.
Melina Abdullah, a professor at Cal State Los Angeles, on Wednesday streamed a live video on Instagram of the officers outside her home.
“I don’t know why they are here,” she said in the stream, according to the Los Angeles Times. “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.”
LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein told the Times the incident was “most likely a swatting” and that the Major Crimes Division is investigating it.
Abdullah, meanwhile, said she was not convinced it had been a swatting. “I don’t buy their story but will see what they come up with,” she told the Times.
While Rubenstein said the officers were responding to a call concerning a house on Abdullah’s block and not necessarily hers, the video makes clear the officers are focusing on her house, according to the newspaper. The video depicts Abdullah exiting her front door after an officer asks her over a loudspeaker to step outside.
“You’re not in trouble,” one of the officers tells her once she is outside.
“We got a call to this location that there is a male in there holding you guys hostage, and he wants a million dollars or he’s going to kill you within an hour,” another officer says.
“This appears to be an illegal act of swatting (a prank call to bring armed officers to a particular address) and we need to hold whoever did this accountable,” Los Angeles Councilman Herb Wesson wrote on Twitter.
“While she’s known to all of you as an activist with @BLMLA, [Abdullah] is the mother of three children and to put her family through this is unacceptable, no matter where your politics may lie,” he added.
Abdullah’s attorney Cynthia Anderson-Barker questioned police handling of the incident even if they believed she was in danger.
“If Melina is a target of anti-BLM folks, the police should question calls of this nature and try to support her rather than terrify her,” she said.