A Portland, Maine, police officer who was the first Somali police officer in the state has resigned amid an internal affairs investigation stemming from her arrest at Worcester’s Palladium during a Ja Rule and Ashanti rap concert in January 2018.
On January 13, 2018 Zahra M. Abu, 25, was was arrested for assault and battery, resisting arrest, trespassing, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. Zahra is a police officer with the Portland Police Department. Abu received significant attention when she was the first Somali cop to be hired in the state of Maine.
But all of that attention turned negative when she attended a rap concert in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Worcester police say in court records that the 5-foot-2, 130-pound officer physically assaulted people at the Palladium then grabbed the head of security at the concert asking him, “Who the (expletive) are you?”
Abu was asked to leave the concert several times but she refused, even pushing her friend off of her who was pleading with her to leave, police say. Police then attempted to arrest Abu but she pulled away from the officers. After a struggle, cops were finally able to place Abu in cuffs and arrest her.
Abu allegedly told a patron of the event that police were racial profiling her.
Abu pleaded not guilty to the charges and has remained free on personal recognizance; she was ordered to stay away from the Palladium.
Abu has been on paid administrative leave since her arrest, but The State News reports Abu resigned on Sunday before her department could complete an internal affairs investigation, perhaps to avoid being fired.
Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck bragged about the department only hiring the best at Abu’s induction ceremony, saying:
“There’s no question that we want to be as diverse as our communities, but we will only hire the best, and I do believe Abu is one of them. I hire good human beings and then we make police officers from them. Abu has a different background from many in the department, but she went through the same process as everyone else to become an officer.”
Abu studied criminal justice and women-and-gender issues at the University of Southern Maine. Abu became Maine’s first Somali police officer two years ago. Abu was born in Kenya at a refugee camp and moved to Maine when she was just 2 years old. Abu does have legal immigration status.