Dozens of Muslim groups have joined a chorus of support for two Brooklyn human rights attorneys facing possible life sentences over charges of torching an empty police vehicle.
Religion News Service Muslim lawyer Urooj Rahman and Black lawyer Colinford Mattis stand accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail through the broken window of a police cruiser during Brooklyn Antifa/BLM riots on May 30.
“No rational human being can ever believe that hurling firebombs at police officers and vehicles is justified,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said.
The two have both pleaded not guilty to several arson and federal explosives charges. If convicted, they face a 45-year mandatory minimum sentence, with the possibility of life in prison. The attorneys are being held without bail at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center.
In a statement, a coalition of 35 Muslim, South Asian and Arab civil rights and advocacy groups*** argue the treatment is disproportionately harsh and likely linked in part to the lawyers’ racial and ethnic backgrounds. Rahman, 31, is a Pakistani American Muslim woman. Mattis, 32, is the son of Jamaican immigrants.
“These excessive charges targeting Colin and Urooj set a dangerous precedent, and function to instill fear and stifle protest by Black, South Asian, and Muslim protestors at a moment where millions take to the streets worldwide to demand justice,” the statement reads.
“This prosecution is also rooted in a longstanding history of anti-Black racism and structural Islamophobia in the United States.”