A public defense firm that receives significant funding from New York City knowingly participated in a music video that advocated for the killing of police officers, an investigation by the city’s Department of Investigation has found.
Attorneys at The Bronx Defenders not only appeared in the video but allowed it to be filmed at their headquarters, according to a department statement on the findings. Rap lyrics in the “Hands Up” video include “For Mike Brown and Sean Bell a cop got to get killed” and “time to start killing these coppers.” In one scene, two men point guns at the head of a man dressed as an officer.
“Advocating the killing of police officers is unacceptable and offensive,” DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said in the statement. “These attorneys have abysmally failed to meet their obligations to their clients, to the courts and to the city as a whole.”
The video was released at a tense time for the city, which faced tough police-community relations following the chokehold-related death of Staten Island man Eric Garner and lack of indictment for the officer involved in that case. The video, however, was released prior to the deadly ambush of two officers in Brooklyn.
Investigators also found that the executive director of the firm misled city officials about the organization’s involvement. The New York Daily News reports Robin Steinberg, the organization’s director, released a statement saying the rappers “released a version of ‘Hands Up’ we did not authorize or endorse,” shortly after the video went public.
The Department of Investigations began looking into the Bronx Defenders involvement on Dec. 12. City officials are mulling a next action.