September 23, 2023

We’ve been covering this story since July of 2020. In the summer of BLM riots two young lawyers in New York City decided they were going to attack the police with Molotov cocktails. Urooj Rahman was interviewed on the street shortly before tossing a Molotov at an empty police vehicle.

“I think this protest is a long time coming,” lawyer Urooj Rahman said in a videotaped interview filmed near the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at around 12:15 a.m. May 30.

“This s–t won’t ever stop unless we f–kin’ take it all down. And that’s why the anger is being expressed tonight in this way,” she said…

“This has got to stop. And the only way they hear, the only way they hear us is through violence, through the means that they use,” she said.

We later got a look at the text messages Rahman had been trading with fellow rioter Colinford Mattis:

“Go burn down 1PP,” Colinford Mattis wrote to his accomplice, Urooj Rahman, before their arrest on May 30, 2020, prosecutor Ian Richardson said at the plea hearing Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court.

“Bring it to their neck,” Mattis added in the text message and shared a Google Maps location of One Police Plaza with Rahman, Richardson said.

“Set a police car on fire,” she said in one.

“My rock hit someone. A cop of course,” she added in another and included a smiley face emoji, Richardson said.

What was most striking about this case was not that a couple of rioters/domestic terrorists had been caught in the act but the sheer number of news outlets who wrote glowing profiles about them afterwards.

I agreed with critics who said that the 30 year minimum sentence that the pair were each facing was too long for what boiled down to throwing a Molotov at an empty police van. On the other hand, it’s possible to go too far in the other direction. These weren’t kids out on a lark who got carried away. They were both lawyers and their public and private statements indicated they took this as a considered action, i.e. only the language of violence would deliver the correct message.

So, last year when they each pleaded guilty to one count as part of a plea deal I was worried this meant they weren’t going to get any significant time at all. Then this June they pleaded guilty again to a revised deal designed to lead to a shorter sentence. Today we found out what that sentence will be:

A New York City attorney was sentenced to 15 months behind bars on Friday for firebombing an empty New York City police vehicle with another lawyer during protests over the murder of George Floyd.

Before hearing her sentence, Urooj Rahman asked a judge to spare her prison time and give her a “second chance” to redeem herself for what she called a momentary lapse of judgement.

“I’m so incredibly sorry for my reckless and wrong actions,” a tearful Rahman said in federal court in Brooklyn. “I don’t think there’s enough words to express my sorrow and regret. … I completely lost my way in the emotion of the night.”

Prosecutors had asked for 18-24 months so with 15 months she’s getting off easy even when the maximum sentence would arguably have been getting off easy. The fact that she was asking to avoid jail altogether is nuts. The judge called her actions arrogant.

Brooklyn federal court Judge Brian Cogan admonished Urooj Rahman before handing down the 15-month sentence, calling the firebombing an “attack on the rule of law” carried out by someone who took an oath to uphold the Constitution.

In the United States, Cogan told Rahman, you “go to the ballot box, not the bomb” if you’re driven to fight for social justice. He added she showed an “amazing level of arrogance” with the attack.

She’ll head to prison in mid-January. Under the circumstances 15-months seems pretty generous. Both Rahman and Mattis were disbarred earlier this week but the disbarment was made retroactive to the day they pleaded guilty.