Correction: The original headline said that the DA was prosecuting Abdullah. She is actually being prosecuted by the City Attorney's office.
Los Angeles, CA – A prominent Black Lives Matter activist known for disrupting police commission meetings is facing charges that could put her behind bars for more than a year.
Melina Abdullah, 46, has gotten away with behaving in a disruptive manner on so many occasions that she was actually surprised when she received a notice to appear in court.
Abdullah, co-founder of the Los Angeles Chapter of Black Lives Matter, first found out she was facing a charge of battery on a police officer stemming from her arrest at a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Commission hearing on May 8, 2018, according to The LAnd.
The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners is a civilian oversight panel made up of five appointees who function like a corporate board of directions over the police department, according to the LAPD website.
Abdullah was arrested after Sheila Hines-Brim, the mother of a woman who died in police custody, threw a powdery substance alleged to be her daughter’s ashes on then-LAPD Chief Charlie Beck during the meeting, KTTV reported.
Police said Abdullah grabbed onto an officer’s arm as he was taking Hines-Brim out of the hearing room with her hands behind her back.
She was released from police custody later the same day.
When the notice to appear arrived in her mailbox on July 26, 2018, she wasn’t expecting it.
She told The LAnd she had forgotten about the arrest and wasn’t expecting to be charged.
“I was very surprised,” Abdullah said. “I thought it was going to be an arrest without charge, which has happened several times in the past.”
She was arrested at police commission meetings on two prior occasions without any consequence, The LAnd reported.
Abdullah was in for an even ruder awakening at her arraignment on Aug. 31, 2018 when she learned she was actually facing eight charges.
The additional charges stemmed from two separate incidents when the Black Lives Matter activist interrupted police commission meetings in 2017.
“I think everyone – and we have a pretty substantial legal team – all the attorneys were surprised,” Abdullah told The LAnd. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, are these all from the same date?’ And that’s when we realized… it was from three different dates.”
In addition to the charge of battery on a police officer, Abdullah has been charged with willfully disturbing a public meeting, interfering with the business of a public agency, and failure to obey an order to disperse for her antics at the Aug. 15, 2017 LAPD Commission meeting.
She was also charged with two counts of willfully disturbing a public meeting and one count of intentionally interfering with police commission business for her behavior at an LAPD Commission meeting on July 25, 2017. She was not actually arrested on that occasion, The LAnd reported.
Her attorneys made a motion to dismiss the charges by claiming the city was trying to shut down legitimate forms of dissent.
Abdullah called it “policing black anger,” according to The LAnd.
The city prosecutor’s office denied that their motives for charging the notorious activist were political.
“Whether with respect to law enforcement officials or public hearings, the People do seek to assure that the defendant abide by the rules that all members of the public must follow,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing, according to The LAnd.
Prosecutors said they have 17 LAPD officers, including members of the security detail responsible for security at the police commission meetings, who will testify that Abdullah’s behavior had crossed the line from non-violent protest and free speech to “obstructing and intimidating” the members of the LAPD Commission.
The judge dismissed the defense motion and ruled that the case against Abdullah could go forward.
Abdullah, who is a professor and chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, refers to members of Black Lives Matter as the heirs of the Black Power movement, The LAnd reported.
She teaches a course called “Black Power,” and counts several of the original Black Panthers as her oldest friends and mentors.
The LAnd asked L.A. Police Protective League President Craig Lally what his organization thought of Abdullah.
“Her organization hates the police,” Lally responded.