A human rights lawyer in the US accused of firebombing a police van during protests, has pleaded not guilty to all charges against her.
US prosecutors claim that lawyer Urooj Rahman threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of an unoccupied police van. The vehicle was set ablaze and damaged, but nobody was injured. The alleged incident occurred on 30 May during protests in New York over the killing of George Floyd. Prosecutors say they have footage of the incident on video.
Another lawyer, Colinford Mattis, was also charged for allegedly helping Rahman flee the scene in a getaway van. Police nabbed Mattis and Rahman shortly after the incident, and allegedly found a lighter, a beer bottle filled with toilet paper and a gasoline tank in the back of Mattis' van.
The Simpsons predicted it again*
Both Rahman and Mattis entered a not-guilty plea via a teleconference arraignment. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic there was a remote hearing, and over 300 people flooded the call, with many voicing their support for Rahman. At several points the judges and lawyers had to tell people to mute their phones, as they couldn't hear what was being said.
Prosecutors requested that Rahman and Mattis were remanded in custody, pending their trial. One argued: "These were lawyers, in particular, who had every reason to know what they were doing was wrong."
But an appeals panel has allowed the two lawyers to go free on bail, after each posted a $250,000 bond. The majority decision said that neither lawyer had a criminal record, both had deep ties to the community, and the bail conditions prevented the "defendants’ ability to engage in criminal activity". The dissenting judge said Rahman and Mattis “remain a risk to being provoked again to take additional dangerous actions.”
Rahman worked as a tenants' lawyer at a housing court prior to her arrest. Mattis is an associate at corporate law firm Pryor Cashman, but has been suspended from the firm without pay, according to reports.
* Possibly fake news