What do you do when a public defense organization helps produce a music video that calls for the assassination of police officers?
If you're a Harvard Law School student, you apparently honor the woman in charge.
Bronx Defenders Executive Director Robin Steinberg will be honored as part of Harvard Law's International Women’s Day celebration, despite the fact that just last month the story broke that two of Steinberg's lawyers helped produce a music video about killing cops, the New York Post reported Monday.
Steinberg is one of 50 female lawyers and policy makers who will be honored as an “inspiration” to the legal profession at Harvard Law in March, with her picture hanging in the grad school's Wasserstein Hall for two weeks.
She will also be recognized in a March 10 keynote address organized by student-run groups, the Post noted.
Two Bronx Defenders attorneys were forced to resign after they appeared in — and allowed Bronx Defenders office space to be used for — a music video in which men point guns a police officer's head and rap about the need to shoot cops.
NYPD union leaders were outraged that Harvard was honoring Steinberg.
“In that she lied to city investigators regarding her role in the disgusting ‘Hands Up’ cop-killer video, it is obvious that [Steinberg] is not being honored for her ethics, integrity or for her management skills,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch told the Post. “Holding her up as a role model effectively tarnishes the award.”
Steinberg, an NYU Law graduate, was suspended for 60 days after New York City's Department of Investigation determined that she had misled city investigators as to the Bronx Defenders' role in the music video.
UPDATE: Harvard Law students have decided to yank Steinberg from the International Women’s Day celebration following media focus on her selection.
“We did not intend for her nomination to suggest in any way that it is acceptable to harm police officers or incite others to do so,” the students groups responsible said in a statement.
The statement added that students are “hopeful that any further inquiries in New York will vindicate Ms. Steinberg, in which case we will look forward to considering her for an honor in a future exhibit” — though as the Post noted, the investigation into the Bronx Defenders has already been completed.
Read the full statement from the Harvard Law student associations below:
The students of the Harvard Women’s Law Association and the Law and International Development Society are inspired every day by the public defenders who work tirelessly for those who otherwise would not have an advocate. We admire their passion and the zeal with which they advocate for their clients, delivering on the Sixth Amendment’s promise that every criminal defendant should “have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” The Bronx Defenders have been the gold standard in providing this service and their work inspires many of our members.
The International Women’s Day exhibit is designed to recognize lawyers whom our members aspire to emulate, across disciplines and in diverse practice areas. As the founder of Bronx Defenders and a pioneer in holistic and client-centered criminal defense, Robin Steinberg was nominated by students to be one of our honorees. Nevertheless, in view of the questions that have been raised and the controversy that has unfolded, we have decided to refrain from including Ms. Steinberg in this year's exhibit, because of the investigation into her response to the actions of defenders in her office. We did not intend for her nomination to suggest in any way that it is acceptable to harm police officers or incite others to do so. As lawyers who aspire to build a more effective criminal justice system, we believe that advocating violence against police in any form is reprehensible. We are hopeful that any further inquiries in New York will vindicate Ms. Steinberg, in which case we will look forward to considering her for an honor in a future exhibit.
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