And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going throughDavid Bowie, Changes
In the movie American Beauty, there is a scene at the end where Kevin Spacey’s character is staring at the camera with unblinking eyes, face on the ground, not moving having just been murdered. The music playing is Any Other Name by Thomas Newman. The music is so sad that it causes a numbness and a barely-detectable sense of existential nausea.
You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdPC9tKeGeE
After seeing the videos and hearing the reports of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died during an arrest in Minneapolis, where he lived, I was reminded of the sounds of Any Other Name.
The nation responded. New York responded. What was uplifting was seeing how our youth responded. Even with the specter of a deadly virus poised to be ingested with every breath, and in defiance of the establishment and disapproving senior generations, students were out en masse, making their voices heard. Peacefully. They were protesting anti-blackness, racism, and injustice while others voiced their support of law enforcement. That took a lot of courage and discipline. The students were exercising their freedom of speech. It’s the American way.
This week’s case is about two young people who were arrested for expressing their opinions in the form of tossing Molotov cocktails (homemade firebombs) from a car and passing them out to other protesters.
In this episode, we will only be dealing with the question of whether those two people were entitled to be released on bail. Remember, the purpose of bail is to secure the defendant’s appearance at the next court date; and, to make sure the safety of the community is not compromised.
Finally, we have to remember that anyone arrested in the U.S. is presumed innocent until proven guilty. What follows is the record of the bail application (conducted remotely) for those two people who were arrested.
Colinford Mattis, 32, Attorney, NYU Law graduate; he graduated from Princeton University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology; associate at the midsize law firm of Pryor Cashman LLP. He had been furloughed from the firm in April 2020.
Urooj Rahman, 31, Attorney; a graduate of Fordham Law School, identified as a human rights lawyer in a Facebook post about an April 30 talk she was scheduled to give to a Muslim group, where she was to discuss “Love of the Earth.”
On the night of May 29, into the early morning of May 30, 2020, thousands of people held large demonstrations in Brooklyn, New York to protest the death of George Floyd.
It was about 1:00 a.m., when Urooj Rahman got out of a tan minivan and approached an NYPD vehicle parked near the 88th Precinct located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. After Urooj approached the NYPD vehicle, she lit and threw a bottle containing a flammable substance into the NYPD vehicle, which set fire to the console. Video shows that Urooj got back into the minivan, which fled the scene. Mattis is the owner of the minivan. Mattis was driving.
Moments later, the minivan was stopped by the police near 200 Willoughby Avenue. Mattis and Urooj were placed under arrest. They were both charged with a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(i):
[w]hoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or foreign commerce or in any activity affecting interstate or foreign commerce shall be imprisoned for not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years, fined under this title, or both.18 U.S.C. § 844(i)
This is the record of the bail hearing for Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman.
STATEMENT OF THE ARRESTING OFFICER:
Q. Officer, before you made the arrest, what did you observe?
A. Video surveillance from the NYPD’s 88th Precinct captured the events. The video shows Urooj jump out of a tan minivan and then running up to an NYPD vehicle and fire-bombing it.
Q. Was the minivan apprehended?
A. Yes. We followed the vehicle as it fled from the scene. The vehicle was stopped. I, and other officers at the scene, then observed in plain view items to build a Molotov cocktail, including a lighter, a Bud Light bottle filled with toilet paper and a liquid suspected to be gasoline in the vicinity of the passenger seat and a gasoline tank in the rear of the vehicle. A database search showed that Mattis is the registered owner of the tan minivan. He was the driver. They were then taken into custody.
COLIN’S ATTORNEY: WHY COLIN SHOULD BE RELEASED ON BAIL
Certainly, the government is not possibly arguing that there is any risk of flight at all. There is none.
Colin was a prep student. He was chosen to go to a school in Delaware. From there, having graduated with honors, he attended Princeton University.
He has been a member of the New York community since the day of his birth, he resides now in the same home that his mother who is now deceased and died just a year ago this month owned along with her four children. Colin lives in that home now. He lives in that home with his sister Lyris
This young man has nothing but family for his entire life. His mother recently passed away, less than a year ago. His father is deceased. As of now, Colin and his sisters are as closely knit as anybody could be but they are closer now due to the loss of his mother very recently from uterine cancer.
He’s a caretaker for three in his home. There is nothing at all, again, in Pretrial Services’ report that would give any countenance to the government’s arguments here.
What the Bail Reform Act says is that you should put in place those conditions that can reasonably assure return to the court and community safety and given the facts of this case, there is zero chance that there is any risk of flight.
I would ask the Court to consider my arguments and set bail accordingly.
Thank you, Your Honor.
PROSECUTOR: WHY COLIN SHOULD BE JAILED WITHOUT BAIL
Your Honor, Colin’s bail package contains a critical assumption and that assumption is that he is a rational person.
The assumption is that a rational person would not want to hurt their family, would not want to hurt their friends, and the assumption is that because of the conditions the Court will impose on that bond, he will obey the orders of the Court.
But Colinford Mattis has not demonstrated himself to be a rational person. He’s a person with an extraordinary career that was just starting in the law. He attended prestigious universities, he had some of the best education that you can have in this country and yet he risked everything, everything, to drive around in a car with Molotov cocktails attacking police vehicles. That is not the action of a rational person. It is not the action of a person who understands the consequences of their actions.
And if the assumption of the Court is that Colinford Mattis will be prevented from committing further acts of violence or will return as directed by the Court because of the consequences that gets renounced onto his family, they have already claimed his entire family and career…
THE JUDGE: Hang on. Hang on, Counsel. Somebody is ordering dessert and it is really distracting us. If you can hear me, hang up or mute yourself.
Your Honor, just to complete my argument here, the Colin has enjoyed privileges that relatively few people in our society have. He’s enjoyed an incredible education, he’s enjoyed incredible advantages and he was at the beginning of a career that was going to be about the enforcement of law, upholding the principles of law and justice.
And it is difficult for me, frankly, to comprehend how somebody in his position with his background would do what he did and I have great difficulty understanding how we can make any assumption about how a bail package like the one that was suggested by Colin’s lawyer is actually going to protect the public and is going to ensure that he is going to return to court as required.
In these circumstances, and given the fact that he was arrested in a vehicle with other Molotov cocktails with components to create Molotov cocktails and with components that would allow him to ignite Molotov cocktails and that he was aiding his co-conspirator, Urooj, to throw those Molotov cocktails and then escape, I do not think that there is any set of conditions that this court could impose that protect the community other than jail.
I appreciate everyone’s advocacy…and I agree that it is a close question, but I also believe that one night of behavior is not a basis to reject someone’s ability to make rational decisions and that home detention assured by the plaintiff and the well-being of his entire family and several high earning colleagues and friends should be an adequate deterrent for further danger to the community even assuming the accuracy of every allegation of the government in its compliant. I am therefore going to set the bond in the same way I will for Ujoor’s case, which is to set bail in the amount of $250,000 with the conditions listed in the Pretrial Services report.
BUT THE PROSECUTION DISAGREED WITH THE JUDGE AND APPEALED.
“The district court released the defendants at 6:00 p.m. on June 1, 2020, and denied the government’s request to stay its decision to give the government an opportunity to appeal its decision or to seek a stay from this Court.
The weight of the evidence in this case is overwhelming. The defendants were caught on camera firebombing an NYPD vehicle. Moreover, just minutes after committing that dangerous and violent act, they were arrested with another assembled Molotov cocktail as well as other precursor materials that could be used to make additional destructive devices. And the defendants were photographed by another witness while they were attempting to incite others to commit attacks with Molotov cocktails they provided.
Neither an order for home confinement nor a GPS monitor is a physical tether that would prevent one or both of the defendants from leaving their residence to participate in additional violence. Moreover, each of these defendants — with successful careers, apparently strong support from family and friends — chose to break the law in an extraordinarily callous and dangerous way. There is no assurance that either defendant would not likewise flout court-imposed conditions of release.”
“This was lawless, this was stupid,” said the lawyer, Paul Shechtman. “This was two people swept up in the moment. But it is two people with no history of violence, no criminal history at all.”
THE DECISION OF THE APPEALS COURT:
The Appeals Court agreed with the Government, issuing an order later that day reversing the district court’s decision and ordering both Colin and Ujoor back to jail.
I have provided you with a link to the full transcript of the bail application along with the photographs of the lawyers. One of the photos is Ujoor holding the Molotov cocktail in the passenger seat of the minivan. Also included, is the application for the stay filed by the prosecution with an affidavit of one of the FBI agents investigating the case.
More lives ruined? We will have to wait and see.
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweetDavid Bowie, Changes
Here is the link: file:///C:/Users/conta/Downloads/bail%20Hearing.pdf