Melina Abdullah, Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, and mother of three school-aged children, has been dedicated to community organizing for decades. She has been active as a community educator, involved parent, and a “Spirit Mama” to dozens of “children.” Her commitment has been deep and far-reaching, including fights for ethnic studies, public education, and fair land use. When the community rose up against police brutality in 2013, Melina was among the original group of organizers that formed Black Lives Matter. She has become a globally-recognized voice against police violence and a fixture in the contemporary Black freedom movement.
Based on her courageous activism and measures to hold public officials accountable during Los Angeles Police Commission meetings, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer is charging Melina with eight separate counts. Many of the charges lodged against Melina relate to so-called “disruptions” of public meetings. These non-violent actions might include speaking off-topic or beyond the allotted time, holding signs, or refusing to take a seat or exit a room. Such engagements are a hallmark of democracy and protected by the First Amendment. Moreover, it is only through such protest that substantial changes in policy and practice have been won.
Using a “catch-all” approach to prosecution, Attorney Feuer is relying heavily on the jury’s reluctance to dismiss all the counts, whether the City fails to prove them beyond a reasonable doubt, in order to criminalize silence Black protest. The prosecution has put forward a flawed assertion that freedom struggle must always be polite and follow the rules of the very institutions that are engaging in the abuse. Furthermore, despite White and non-Black allies have engaging in similar accountability tactics, no charges have been pursued, signaling the prosecution of Melina as deliberate and discriminatory.
Letter of support TO DROP ALL CHARGES AGAINST Dr. ABDULLAH
On January 22, 2019, the Scholars for Black Lives collective calls on college and university students, faculty, and administrators to #standwithmelina by adding their names as signatories to petition demanding LA City Attorney Mike Feuer drop all charges against Melina Abdullah. More than 275 individuals signed our our petition, which will be delivered to Attorney Feuer and the Office of LA City Attorney on February 5, 2019. Although we are still collecting signatures, we have begun preparing the petition for delivery and will only include submissions prior to 5:00pm EST February 4, 2019. Please support the #standwithmelina hashtag on social media and disseminating content from our working digital media toolkit to amplify our message.