Former Pan-African Studies Chair threatened at gunpoint

Co-founder of Black Lives Matter LA, Melina Abdullah met with gunpoint while protesting at L.A. District Attorney’s residence

George Garcia, Staff Reporter

“Get off my porch, I will shoot you,” were the words that Melina Abdullah heard after walking up to the home and ringing the doorbell.

As David Lacey, husband to Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, opened the door, a video, posted on Black Lives Matter’s social media accounts, displays him panning and pointing a handgun at Abdullah and other protesters standing on the porch of the home.

After the viral encounter that immediately took an unexpected turn between Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, co-founded by Abdullah, and the District Attorney’s husband, questions surrounding her re-election were raised.

Under the stress of the event, Abdullah, a Cal State LA professor, asked, “You’re going to shoot me?” To which David replied, “If you don’t get off my porch, I will shoot you. I don’t care who you are.”

The incident occured on the eve of Super Tuesday when Lacey would be on the ballot. As of Friday, the incumbent holds a 50 percent share of the vote. With results still being counted, Lacey faces the possibility of a runoff election in November.

At least a handful of Cal State LA students were aware of the video.

Destiny Moore, a mentee of Abdullah, was one student who saw the clip on Instagram and was in “complete shock” as her mentor was threatened at gunpoint.

Moore shares a special relationship with “Mama Melina,” as she likes to call her. 

“I never thought it would go to these extremes, especially being that it was not only my former professor, chair, but someone I [see] as a mentor and look up to, so it hit home really hard.” 

Moore attributes the dispute between Black Lives Matter and Lacey stemming from what she calls “negligence” and lack of “accountability,” alleging that, “585 people have been killed by police brutality and only one officer has been prosecuted,” under Jackie Lacey’s time in office. ACLU of Southern California has also reported that figure

“Lacey,” the L.A. Times reported, “has often sided with law enforcement, arguing that initial public perceptions are often inaccurate.”

“‘When those cases come in and we really dig deep and look at them they’re a lot more challenging than they first appear,’” Lacey said according to the Times.

In an exclusive interview with the UT, days after the incident, Abdullah recalled this as “one of the most troubling experiences” and is still “processing it,” but overall she said she is doing well.

Abdullah was upbeat through the interview and said how protesting is based on “staying grounded” and surrounding yourself with strong support systems as she did with Black Lives Matter, White People for Black Lives, the American Indian Movement and March and Rally.

“No protestor should ever be met with gun violence,” she said in a message aimed at students.

As a result of these incidents, Abdullah was adamant about specific outcomes. “I would like to see Jackie Lacey voted out of office,” she said. “Elected officials are beholden to the constituencies they are elected to and don’t have the right to run from the public.”

She continued, “We will continue to protest Jackie Lacey until she’s gone and we are fighting for the 585 people who’ve been killed on her watch,” Abdullah added, as part of her next steps. 

On Monday, hours following the incident, District Attorney Jackie Lacey conducted an emotional press conference where she apologized on her husband’s behalf saying, “His response was in fear, and now that he realizes what happened, he wanted me to say to the protesters, the person that he showed the gun to, that he was sorry.”

In that press conference streamed by KTLA, Lacey addressed the difficulties she encounters as District Attorney that include “angering people” due to whether she “files a case” or not. But ultimately, she said her job is to “uphold the constitution and the laws of California.”

Despite Lacey’s public apology, Abdullah said she believes, in a perfect scenario, Lacey would personally apologize outside of the media’s view. “I think as one black mother to another black mother, she would call and apologize.” For her alleged inactions, Abdullah said Lacey should also apologize to “all of the moms who are the real victims in all of this.” 

She said it appeared that Lacey casted “herself as the victim” and was something Abdullah found “shameful.”

Lacey also took an opportunity to defend her privacy and made it clear that dedicating her time to “public service” did not give protesters the right to show up to “homes of public officials.”

In response, Abdullah said Lacey “tried to make it seem like she somehow was targeted for violence by those who are organizing to end violence.”

Greg Risling, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s office, declined to comment.

Lacey said she was open to meeting with Black Lives Matter under certain conditions that wouldn’t turn the meeting into a spectacle such as “scream[ing] and yell[ing]”  in order to put it up on social media.

Nana Lawson Bush, the chair of Cal State LA’s Pan-African Studies Department and a friend of Abdullah, categorized David Lacey’s actions in a “larger context,” referencing an ideology rooted in the “internalization of white supremacy that knows no boundaries and it even lies in the bodies of black people.”

“What it showed was that black lives absolutely do not matter. Just because you come to my doorbell, I have the right to threaten or maybe even take your life.”

When asked how this video would shape Lacey’s candidacy, Bush who does not believe in voting, said, “They [the system] puts into place whoever it wants, so I’m not shocked that she’s leading, in fact, I expect her to win.”

When Abdullah was asked what effect the video had on Lacey’s candidacy, she said it “didn’t help her at all” and expected a November-runoff.

The Times reported, as results are still pending, it’ll potentially be days – maybe even longer – to find out whether Lacey will see her name on the ballot come November.