Statement in Support of Colinford Mattis & Urooj Rahman
“Be an enemy to the oppressor and a helper to the oppressed.” -Imam Ali (AS)
AMBA is in solidarity with the Fordham Law community, the NYU Law community, 56 former federal prosecutors, and the Legal Services Staff Association 2320, in their stances against the federal government’s aggressive charging and pursuit of pre-trial detention of Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis. This, when the focus should be to dismantle the root causes of state violence and systemic racism against the Black community.
We put our weight behind these letters of support because they’ve said it best. Colin and Urooj should not be languishing in federal prison for alleged acts that did not intend or cause any harm to human life. It’s puzzling that the alleged act of charring the console of an abandoned and previously vandalized police car would land two people in federal prison without bail. In sharp contrast, Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who murdered George Floyd, is able to walk free on bail. This reality is especially worthy of condemnation.
Two federal judges have already found that Colin and Urooj do not pose a danger to the community and that their significant community ties ensure their future presence in proceedings. Despite this, the government disrespects the established legitimacy of the Bail Reform Act and continues its stubborn pursuit of Colin and Urooj’s incarceration, in what amounts to gross overreach of federal prosecutorial law enforcement power. The government’s actions are in line with this country’s history of criminalizing and vilifying blackness and Muslim immigrants by insisting they pose a threat to our society. The federal indictment of Colin and Urooj carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 years. This indictment is politically motivated and is being weaponized to influence the bail appeal on June 23rd, and that is reprehensible.’
Urooj and Colin have long used their labor to serve their communities. Urooj Rahman is a Pakistani Muslim staff attorney in the Housing Unit at Bronx Legal Services, an LSSA union member, her elderly mother’s primary caretaker, and a respected member of the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn community. Colinford Mattis is a Black public interest oriented attorney, raising three foster children, and a respected member of the East New York, Brooklyn community.
Before Colin and Urooj were arrested on May 30, 2020, participating in protests against systemic police brutality, they dedicated their personal and professional lives to uplifting underserved communities. Colin and Urooj don’t only derive comfort and solace from their faith as a Christian and Muslim respectively. They are motivated by its principles of love, compassion, and justice, and animate these principles in their work. Urooj advocates for tenants’ rights to safe and stable housing in the Bronx. Colin has fought in defense of families of color, and their rights to enjoy full, safe, and secure lives.
The government is focusing on jailing these two members of our legal community and many other protestors, and by doing so, deflecting and detracting from the most pressing issue of our time — police brutality and white supremacist violence across America’s Criminal Justice system.In the middle of a national conversation centering the murder of Black lives at the hands of law enforcement, the federal government has mobilized swiftly to silence dissent and exact retribution against protestors. The government should be focusing on pursuing the critical need to address systemic injustices against Black lives.
Therefore, we wish to express our solidarity with Urooj and Colin and co-sign the letters of support issued by their professional and academic communities, and the amicus brief signed by 56 former federal prosecutors. We call on the federal government to cease their overzealous pursuit of detention without bail, and to immediately drop these aggressive, politically motivated charges.
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AMBA, an association of Muslim attorneys, aims to be a fearless voice, grounded in principles of justice, love, and compassion. We are motivated by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his family members, who display resounding integrity in crisis and are always at the forefront of speaking truth to power.
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