Tags: Ferguson in Crisis | NYC Police Shot | New York City | Bronx Defenders | Bill de Blasio | rap video | police

NYT: Public Defense Lawyers Took Part in 'Kill Cops' Video

Monday, 02 February 2015 11:55 AM

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association is outraged after it emerged that two public defense lawyers from a New York City-funded legal firm took part in an anti-police rap video calling for cops to be killed.

Now the PBA has demanded the city terminate its contract with the Bronx Defenders, which receives $20 million a year in funding, according to The New York Times.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has urged the firm to take immediate disciplinary action against the lawyers, Kumar Rao and Ryan Napoli, and issued a statement  denouncing "any endorsement of violence against police officers."

The video from Uncle Murda, Jay Watts and Maino, called "Hands Up," consists of black youths holding up their hands in a surrender pose as well as images of the anti-police demonstrations and Eric Garner being wrestled to the ground by an officer.

Story continues below video.

The "hands up" refrain has been popularized in protests in New York that followed the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Garner in Staten Island, New York.

The Times said that the lawyers, who appeared in the video comforting a grieving mother, were acutely aware before filming that the footage would contain anti-police sentiment. In fact, Napoli sent an email to Rao, saying, "I love this song!"

The opening verse of the song says: "For Mike Brown and Sean Bell, a cop got to get killed / Time to start killing these coppers." Bell, like Brown, was unarmed when he was killed by police officers, the newspaper reported.

The video was posted on YouTube soon after a grand jury absolved the police of any blame in Garner's chokehold death.

The mayor, who has been attacked by the PBA for fueling an anti-police environment in New York, warned that unless Bronx Defenders takes action against the two lawyers by Feb. 4, "the city will take all legal and contractual actions available to it."

The firm, which services 35,000 cases a year, has a reputation for its aggressive defense of low-income and minority clients.

The city's Department of Investigation concluded that the founder and executive director of the Bronx Defenders, Robin Steinberg, approved of the firm's lawyers taking part in the video without reviewing the lyrics first, and then tried to mislead city officials about her role, the Times reported.

"If you're an organization primarily funded by the city, you can't use your premises and you can't sponsor videos that call for killing police officers," said Mark Peters, commissioner of the Investigation Department, a statement supported by the Bronx District Attorney and the PBA, according to the Times.

"When people in your organization do something that so damages your reputation, it also damages your ability to efficiently advocate in front of judges and in front of prosecutors."

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The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association is outraged after it emerged that two public defense lawyers from a New York City-funded legal firm took part in an anti-police rap video calling for cops to be killed.
New York City, Bronx Defenders, Bill de Blasio, rap video, police
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2015-55-02
Monday, 02 February 2015 11:55 AM
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