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LAPD says teens motivated by racism were behind ‘swattings’ of BLM leader

VIDEO | 02:32
LAPD investigates likely ‘swatting’ call after responding to home of Black Lives Matter activist

Black Lives Matter Los Angeles leader Melina Abdullah recorded video during a “swatting” at her home last year, which police now say was the work of a group of teenagers motivated by hate.

The Los Angeles Police Department said Friday that a group of teenagers motivated by racial hatred is responsible for two separate “swatting” incidents at the home of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles leader Melina Abdullah.

The incidents, which led to LAPD surrounding the home of one of their most prominent critics, were highly controversial — and the police were heavily criticized for their responses.

The teens, ages 13 to 16, were connected via the online chat platform Discord and are also suspected in 30 other false emergency threats across the country since July 2020, targeting “other online persons, video gamers, activists, schools, airports, houses of worship, entertainment venues and memorial parks,” the LAPD said.

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Police will present cases supporting charges of criminal conspiracy and creating a false emergency against three of the teens to local prosecutors, they said. One of the three lives in New York and another in Ohio, while a third — an American citizen — is living abroad in Cyprus, police said. They were not identified.

Police said search and arrest warrants were simultaneously served at homes in Yonkers, N.Y., and Medina, Ohio, but they did not say if the teens were arrested or in custody. They also did not say whether or how law enforcement was pursuing the teenaged suspect in Cyprus.

The department said “language used” in the swatting incidents and “a review of the subjects’ online activities” reflected a “racial motivation theme” behind the incidents, and that investigators will be requesting that prosecutors consider a hate crime enhancement in the legal cases.

LAPD claims it has only one recording, not two, of a ‘swatting’ call targeting BLM leader Melina Abdullah and that it not release it.

“Additional cases and digital evidence are still being collected as the investigation continues,” the LAPD said.

Abdullah on Friday said she doubted the claims of police. She also said they did not excuse what she believes were heavy-handed and harassing tactics by police in responding to her home during the swatting encounters.

“Even if what they’re saying is true, the police — LAPD — used this opening as an opportunity to attempt to terrorize me and my family,” Abdullah said.

“Swatting” incidents are caused by individuals who report false emergencies at the homes of their targets so that police will respond in force. They are considered highly dangerous for the targets by federal law enforcement, and have been deadly.

Abdullah filed a lawsuit alleging that the LAPD mishandled its response to a swatting incident at her home in August 2020, when they surrounded her home with guns drawn and demanded she come out via a loudspeaker.

Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter L.A., has sued the city of L.A. and the LAPD over the department’s response to a 911 call last year.

Police said a caller to 911 had alleged that he was holding people hostage in Abdullah’s home and trying to send a message that “BLM is a bunch of retards.” The incident was resolved after Abdullah came out with her hands up while streaming the incident to social media.

The Aug. 12 incident is one of two related to Abdullah that police say was orchestrated by the teens.

Abdullah’s home was then swatted twice in a week in September, on Sept. 23 and Sept. 29, after she filed her lawsuit. Each time, police responded to her home.

In the first, police said someone called an unrecorded homicide line claiming to be Abdullah’s son, and said that she was dead and he was armed with an AR-15. In the second, police said a 911 caller claimed to have Abdullah hostage.

The LAPD says teens committed two ‘swatting’ incidents against local BLM leader Melina Abdullah. The activist says she doubts the police claims.

The LAPD released a 911 tape from the call last year, but has denied requests for such recordings in the two incidents from this year, saying the first was unrecorded and that they had to withhold tape of the second for investigative reasons.

Police say the Sept. 29 incident was also orchestrated by the teens. Police did not say whether they believe the unrecorded call from Sept. 23 was also the work of the teens — which Abdullah said she found strange.

“It is suspicious that they are not talking about the Sept. 23rd swatting, which is the one that seems to be the most secretive with the least amount of information, where they’re claiming that it came in on an unrecorded line,” she said.


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