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Police at California State University, Los Angeles, arrested Melina Abdullah, a professor and former chair of the university’s pan-African studies department, at a mayoral debate Sunday night, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Students and others posted videos of Abdullah being removed from the building.

Abdullah did not have a ticket for the event, but there were only 40 to 50 people in the room and there was not a visible space shortage.

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

The university released this statement: “One person was removed from the debate, arrested, and released at the scene. There were no other arrests. Cal State LA’s Department of Public Safety has no comment. The university will provide a statement after a fuller review of the incident.”

On Monday, the Times reported that the university released a statement that said in part, “Professor Melina Abdullah and her companion were not on the guest or media list for the event. They bypassed all on-site check-ins and entered the theater. An event organizer informed the pair twice that they could not remain. The two did not leave. When public safety officers asked them to leave, Professor Abdullah’s companion complied. When Professor Abdullah ignored requests to leave, she was removed from the building by public safety officers and immediately released. Professor Abdullah’s race and group affiliation were not factors in this incident.”

Molly Talcott, a Cal State L.A. sociology professor and faculty rights chair for the campus chapter of the California Faculty Association, said Abdullah’s removal “was humiliating, it was violent, it was thoroughly antidemocratic.” Talcott said that several other faculty members with whom she had spoken were “horrified” by what happened.

Leda Ramos, a professor of Chicano studies, said, “Here we have one of the most prestigious, sought-after, well-loved faculty members, who’s contributed to our campus, Cal State L.A., for over 20 years, being treated in the most disrespectful, dehumanizing human manner on the campus that she’s dedicated so much of her life to.”