The city's paying them for legal work — and they're shooting music videos calling for cop killings?
A pair of New York City lawyers are facing heat for participating in a music video that decries police shootings of young black men and calls for police to be killed in return, Gothamist reported Thursday.
The two lawyers with the taxpayer-funded Bronx Defenders appeared in a December WorldStarHipHop music video and allowed their office to be used in the video as well.
The song's lyrics call for cop killing, and at the beginning of the video, two black men are shown pointing guns at the head of a white man dressed as a police officer.
The New York City Department of Investigation report found that the lawyers "participated in the video, and allowed the organization’s offices to be used in the video, despite knowing that it advocated the killing of police officers."
Gothamist reported that the Bronx Defenders has two contracts with the city worth $20 million in taxpayer funds.
The lawyers have argued that they were not shown footage of men pointing guns at the man dressed as a police officer prior to the video's release.
Emails obtained by the DOI shows that one of the Bronx Defenders' attorneys said he "loved" the song but he was concerned the song referring to police as "c***suckers."
The song also contains such lines as, "Time to start killing these coppers."
The DOI investigation concluded that the two lawyers who appeared in the video, Kumar Rao and Ryan Napoli, exhibited a "profound lack of judgment" in participating in the video, and accuses them of "serious misconduct."
See the video below (content warning: explicit language):
Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration released the statement below on the video:
The Department of Investigation’s findings are deeply disturbing. Any endorsement of violence against police officers is completely unacceptable and will absolutely not be tolerated. Keeping New York the safest big city in the country requires that we are vigilant about the security of the nation’s finest police force and the communities they are sworn to protect.
Today’s report signals a serious failure to take this role seriously. We rely on entities like the Bronx Defenders to play an essential role in the criminal justice system by safeguarding the rights of indigent clients. The Administration has demanded Bronx Defenders take immediate action in response to the findings of DOI. Unless those actions are fully responsive to the serious issues raised here, the City will take all legal and contractual actions available to it.
The Bronx Defenders issued an apology statement, which appears as a pop-up on its website:
The Bronx Defenders abhors the use of violence against the police under any circumstance. We have always been an organization that is committed to preserving life, dignity and respect for all people. The Bronx Defenders never approved the music video 'Hands Up' and never saw it before it went online. We deeply regret any involvement with this video.
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