Police remove Black Lives Matter leader from mayoral debate

Police remove Black Lives Matter leader from mayoral debate

A Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles leader was forcibly removed by campus police from a mayoral debate Sunday night at Cal State Los Angeles.

Melina Abdullah — a professor at Cal State L.A. and former chair of the school’s pan-African studies department — told The Times she was carried out of the room by police officers because she did not have a ticket to the event.

Protests about the exclusion of certain candidates from the stage preceded the event, and attendance had been closely monitored, with only a small group of people allowed inside the auditorium.

Videos shared on Twitter showed police officers dragging Abdullah outside the auditorium.

“Debates should be public … especially at a public university,” Abdullah said via text, noting that students, faculty and the public weren’t allowed inside “a near-empty theater.”

Activists have dogged the major candidates in recent months and briefly disrupted a mayoral forum focused on Asian American Pacific Islander issues that was held Saturday in Little Tokyo.

Sunday’s debate went off without interruption, but Abdullah and at least one other activist were forcibly removed from the audience minutes before it was set to begin. Cal State L.A. police did not respond to requests for comment.

Protesters did not say what they were calling for but chanted “Shame on you” and “This is a public university” as candidates looked on.

Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of Cal State L.A.’s Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, which hosted the debate, was seen pacing near the stage as he was informed about 20 minutes before it began that people without passes had entered the area. A Times reporter saw Sonenshein ask campus police officers what options they would have in removing protesters.

“I should have been able to watch the mayoral debate that was happening on my own campus,” Abdullah said to The Times in a written statement. “I’m still processing the fact that Raphe Sonenshein, someone who called himself a friend, who I’ve known well since I was in graduate school, called the police and had me forcibly and brutally removed.”

Abdullah added: “I’m processing that as I was yelling for help, that I was being hurt and called for Karen Bass and Kevin De León … two people who have been very close for more than 20 years, they said nothing, not even a simple ‘Please put her down,’ nor did any other candidate. It’s both hurtful and outrageous.”

Sonenshein declined to comment.

The debate is one of the last major events for the candidates to make their case before mail-in ballots go out for the June 7 primary.

Soruce : https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-05-01/police-forcibly-remove-black-lives-matter-l-a-leader-from-mayoral-debate

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