Cornel West's VP pick backed defund the police, praised Farrakhan: 5 things to know

Long-shot presidential candidate Cornel West announced his pick for a running mate on Wednesday, tapping Melina Abdullah, a professor and co-founder of Black Lives Matter’s Los Angeles chapter who has an extensive political history.

Here are five things to know about Abdullah that she is unlikely to talk about publicly during her campaign.

1. She was thrown out of a Los Angeles mayoral debate:

Police were forced to drag Abdullah out of a mayoral debate taking place on California State University LA’s campus in 2022.

Abdullah was protesting the fact that barely 50 people were allowed inside the campus auditorium to view the debate, and that students and faculty were not allowed to enter.


Abduallh was a Cal State LA professor at the time, and she clarified that police only removed her from the premises and did not arrest her.

“I should have been able to watch the mayoral debate that was happening on my own campus. 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 said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times, referencing one of the co-sponsors of the debate.

“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,” she added.

2. She sued the national BLM organization and lost:

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While Abduallah is a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, that doesn’t mean she always got along with the rest of the organization.

While Abduallah is a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, that doesn’t mean she always gets along with the rest of the organization.

In 2022, Abdullah sued Shalomyah Bowers, an executive at the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. She alleged that Bowers had been using the organization as his “personal piggy bank” and had paid over $10 million to his consulting firm using non-profit funds.


Abdullah said at a press conference at the time that “the assets that we built, the financial resources, the social media platforms and the name ‘Black Lives Matter’ have been taken from us and are under the control of consultants.”

BLMGNF’s board of directors denied the allegations in a lengthy statement prior to hearings in the case. 

“Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) is here to give light and fight for Black liberation,” the statement said in part. “Make no mistake, the allegations of Melina Abdullah and BLM Grassroots (BLMGR) are false. They are slanderous and devoid of reality.”

Abdullah’s lawsuit was ultimately dismissed and she was ordered to pay more than $100,000 in legal fees to Bowers.

3. She is a big fan of notorious antisemite Louis Farrakhan:

Abdullah has repeatedly and emphatically praised Minister Louis Farrakhan throughout his years of anti-American and antisemitic controversies.

A brief review of Abdullah’s personal account on X shows that she has praised and quoted the Nation of Islam leader for years, going back nearly a decade to 2015.

“Humbled, overwhelmed, and profoundly grateful 2 share space with @louisfarrakhan #JusticeOrElse,” she wrote in June 2015 alongside a picture of the minister.

Her appreciation for Farrakhan remained consistent for the next several years, with her defending him on social media in 2019. 


“We should all be outraged by the banning of Minister @LouisFarrakhan from Instagram and Facebook. Loving Black people and wanting freedom and self-determination for us does not constitute ‘Black supremacy.’ In a country built on our backs there can be no ‘Black supremacy,'” she wrote at the time.

4. She wants to defund the police:

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As a founding member of Los Angeles’ BLM chapter, Abdullah has a predictably low opinion of the police.

“Now Is the Time to Defund the Police and Reimagine Public Safety,” Abdullah told PBS in a 2022 interview.

Abdullah pushed for extensive reforms to policing in Los Angeles in the wake of the George Floyd protests in 2020, and she also aggressively opposed an increase in police budget proposed in LA in 2023.

“The overwhelming number of Angelenos want to divest from policing and parking enforcement, and invest in the things that actually keep communities safe,” Abdullah told KCRW in August last year after the city voted to increase the police budget by $384 million.

She went on to argue that the pay hike for police was “out of step with what the people say that they want” and suggested that politicians were afraid of retaliation by the city’s police union.

5. She was the victim of ‘swatting’ in 2020:

Melina Abdullah

Abdullah was the victim of at least one “swatting” incidinet in 2020. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Police Department sent officers Abdullah’s home during the heat of George Floyd protests in August 2020 after receiving a hoax phone call.

The LAPD said they received a call claiming there were three hostages being held inside Abdullah’s home. The practice of calling in fake 911 calls is known as “swatting,” a serious crime that has gained prevalence in recent years.

“After the officers were able to verify the safety of the residents, the on-scene investigation determined the call was a hoax,” the LAPD said in a statement at the time.

Abdullah rejected the explanation from police, however, claiming in a video that police were trying to “throw me off my game.”


“Dozens and dozens of police, LAPD and others, showed up at my house this morning, guns drawn, assault rifles drawn, really terrorizing me and my children. We’re OK,” Abdullah said at the time.

“I don’t ever believe the words of the police,” she continued. “You shouldn’t either.”

Fox News’ Evie Fordham contributed to this report

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