The Los Angeles Police Department said Friday that a group of teenagers motivated by racial hatred are responsible for two separate “swatting” incidents at the home of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles leader Melina Abdullah.
The incidents that led to the LAPD surrounding the home of one of their most prominent critics were highly controversial – and the police were heavily criticized for their response.
Teenagers aged 13 to 16 were connected via the online chat platform Discord and are also suspected of 30 other false emergency threats across the country since July 2020, targeting “other online people, video players, activists, schools, airports, houses of worship, entertainment venues and memorial parks, Said the LAPD.
Police will present cases that support allegations of criminal conspiracy and the creation of 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 – a US citizen – lives abroad in Cyprus, police say. They were not identified.
Police said search and arrest warrants were served simultaneously in homes in Yonkers, NY and Medina, Ohio, but they did not say whether the teens were arrested or remanded in custody. Nor did they say whether or how law enforcement was pursuing the teenage suspect in Cyprus.
The department said the “language used” in the incidents and “a review of the subjects’ online activities” reflected a “racist motivational theme” behind the incidents and that investigators will ask prosecutors to consider improving hate crimes in legal cases. .
“Additional cases and digital evidence are still being collected as the investigation continues,” the LAPD said.
Abdullah said Friday she doubted police allegations. She also said they did not apologize for what she believes were harsh and harassing tactics on the part of police when responding to her home during slamming meetings.
“While what they say is true, the police – the LAPD – used this opening as an opportunity to try to terrorize me and my family,” Abdullah said.
“Swatting” incidents are caused by individuals reporting false emergencies in the homes of their targets so that the police will respond in force. They are considered very dangerous for the purposes of federal law enforcement and have been fatal.
Abdullah filed a lawsuit alleging that the LAPD had abused its response to an incident in her home in August 2020, when they surrounded her home with drawn weapons and demanded that she come out via a loudspeaker.
Police said a 911 caller had claimed he was holding people hostage at Abdullah’s home and tried to send a message that “BLM is a bunch of retarded.” The incident was resolved after Abdullah came out with her hands up while streaming the incident to social media.
The incident on August 12 is one of two related to Abdullah, who police say was orchestrated by the teens.
Abdullah’s home was then beaten twice in a week in September, September 23 and September 29, after she filed her lawsuit. Each time, police responded to her home.
In the first, police said someone called an unregistered killing line, claiming to be Abdullah’s son, saying she was dead and that he was armed with an AR-15. In the second, police said a 911 caller claimed to have Abdullah hostage.
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 tapes of the second of investigative causes.
Police say the September 29 incident was also orchestrated by the teens. Police did not say whether they believe the September 23 unopened call was also the teens’ job – which Abdullah said she found strange.
“It is suspicious that they are not talking about the swatting on September 23, which is the one that seems to be the most secretive with the least amount of information, claiming that it came in on an unoccupied line,” she said.
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