How two promising lawyers found themselves facing life in prison for alleged Molotov cocktail attack during protests in New York


Rahman Rahman and and Colin Colin Furred. Furred. Mattis Mattis were were kids kids from from immigrant families who made good both graduates of prestigious law schools. She represented tenants in Housing Court. He was an associate at a corporate firm in Manhattan. Now they face life in prison in one of the government's highest profile cases against protesters. Dina Temple Raston of NPR's investigations team reports. The night of May 29th in Brooklyn was chaos as curfew Jew near police in riot gear began to make arrests. Protesters started throwing water bottles and bricks. The NYPD tried to break up the crowd with pepper spray in swinging batons being excessively aggressive with this crowd here, and it is inappropriate. 70 woman Diana purchased and I'm an elected official, and they just pepper sprayed me for no reason. Rouge Rahmon was there to local journalist stopped her for an interview. Her face was covered with the scarf. She was wearing a black T shirt that read. The struggle continues. This protest is a long time coming. I think that the mayor Should have pulled their his police department back. The way that the mayor and Minneapolis But the part of the interview that ricocheted around the Internet was this. Won't ever stop unless we Take it all down. And that's why the anger is being Express tonight. In this way, prosecutors say in NYPD surveillance camera captured images of Rockman a short time later, she was writing in the passenger seat of a van. Her friend Colin for Mattis was driving. What allegedly happened next defense attorney Shipman says is the basis for the charges against them. It's alleges that a rouge threw a Molotov cocktail into a police car and empty police car. Essentially abandoned police car police car that had been previously vandalized. Two police officers were across the street They gave Chase and Rouge and Colin were arrested. The NYPD video apparently shows it all Rothman and that T shirt. Beige van slowing as it neared the police vehicle. The lighting of a toilet paper fuse the arc of a beer bottle as it crashed under the cruiser's dashboard. The whole episode lasted just seconds. Rahman and Mattis now face seven felonies in federal court. The charges include the use of explosives, arson conspiracy, the use of a destructive device, civil disobedience and the use of a destructive device in the furtherance of a crime of violence. This last charge alone, known as 9 24 C of the criminal code carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison. Add that to the other charges against them, and they could face life behind bars. Attorney Paul Shechtman represents a rouge Rockman and he says his client's case has been singled out ever since. It's been taken federally it has been treated with a seriousness. Ah, harshness unlike any I've ever seen. NPR reviewed 47 Molotov cocktail in arson cases filed across the country. That involved the destruction of police property. And this case to which prosecutors added 1/3 person, Rahman Mattis say they don't know is the only instance in which that 30 year mandatory minimum charge appears. Molotov cocktail cases are usually charged his property crimes in state courts. A spokesman for the U. S Attorney's office declined to discuss the case or they're charging decisions. Attorney General William Barr has been saying for weeks that extremists plotted the violence that erupted during the protests. And he said as much to NPR's Steve Inskeep in an interview last week when we arrest people in charge them at this stage anyway. We don't charge them for being a member of Antifa. We charge him for throwing a Molotov cocktail or we charge them for possession of a gun or possession of gasoline and things to make bombs with. Those are the kinds of charges that are filed. And while prosecutors haven't offered any evidence that Rothman and Madison, part of an extremist group You wouldn't know it from the way they were charged. Good afternoon. Your Honor, This is David Kessler. I'm in the U. S attorney in the Eastern District of New York. The harshness and the Rothman and Mattis case went beyond the charges. Prosecutors also fought their release on bail even though it was supported by two different judges. 56 former federal prosecutors found the government's position so alarming. They filed an amicus brief with the court. A panel of judges heard arguments last Tuesday and because of the Corona virus, all this happened over the phone. This is how it began. The District court's order releasing the defendant on bond should be reversed. And when I want to focus on here is the core issue the danger to the community government attorney David Kessler. This is not a case about a youthful indiscretion or crimes passion. It's about a calculated Dangerous crime committed by adults who risked the lives of innocent civilian first responders. Their crime is so serious, Kessler argued. It negates any mitigating factors that came before it. To throw that Molotov cocktail, he said, required essentially a fundamental change in mindset about for them. That's really what the core of the cases, Shenkman told the judges. Thie entire evening was an aberration. Here's their exchange. You can't imagine what a soldering event this arrest was. Mr Shipman. I can imagine how these people did what they're shown on video to have done. I find the whole case unimaginable. But having during that happened once I'm I'm wondering why it is so unimaginable that it wouldn't happen again. I think because that night Wass really unique. It was young people not just used to people out to protest police violence who saw more of it. Right one. Khun lose one sense on an evening like this. That argument appears to have convinced two of the three judges that Rockman and Mattis aren't a danger to the community. The judges said in an opinion yesterday that they agreed with the lower court that the pair could be safely released on bail. Rahman and Mattis were allowed to go home last night. In the months ahead, they have more than just the government charges to fight. They also have to battle the suggestion that they're mixed up in what theater knee general is called. A witches brew of extremists. Dina Temple Raston. NPR NEWS New York

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