LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A local Black Lives Matter leader filed suit late Monday against the city of Los Angeles and its former police chief in federal court alleging that her 2018 arrest at a Police Commission meeting violated her civil rights.
Dr. Melina Abdullah, a Cal State Los Angeles professor and founder of the Black Lives Matter movement in L.A., alleged in her complaint that she was “falsely, wrongfully and intentionally detained, imprisoned and arrested,” during a raucous May 8, 2018 meeting.
“By this lawsuit, we intend to expose the corruption of one dirty officer,” Carl Douglas, Abdullah’s attorney, said. “By this lawsuit, we intend to make Los Angeles better one cop at a time.”
Abdullah was arrested at the 2018 meeting along with another woman – Sheila Brim – who threw a powdery substance at then-LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. Brim’s niece, Wakiesha Wilson, died in police custody in 2016, and Brim suggested at the meeting that the powder was Wilson’s ashes.
Brim reached a separate agreement with prosecutors to resolve four misdemeanor charges stemming from her actions at the meeting.
Abdullah was charged with misdemeanor battery on a police officer stemming from the commission meeting, but was also hit with seven other counts including interfering or obstructing a public business establishment and interfering with the lawful business of the Police Commission. Prosecutors said the alleged crimes occurred in July and August of 2017.
“One of the things I do as a professor is try to teach my students, as well as my biological children, the power of non violent direct action,” Abdullah said. “So the accusation that I would commit any sort of violent act is a huge insult. In fact, what we’re trying to do is stop them from committing violence on black communities.”
In February of last year, an agreement was reached to dismiss all criminal charges against Abdullah as long as she agreed to abide by behavior guidelines during Police Commission meetings, such as exiting and not returning to the meeting if she is found to be disrupting the proceedings and ordered to leave.
Abdullah is seeking damages for emotional distress, damage to her reputation and to cover her attorney fees.
The lawsuit names Beck and a number of other police officers as defendants. A spokesperson for the LAPD said the department does not comment on pending litigation.