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HLS Student Groups Retract Honor from New York Public Defender

By Andrew M. Duehren, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: February 17, 2015, at 1:21 a.m.

The International Women’s Day exhibit at Harvard Law School will no longer honor Robin Steinberg, the executive director of the Bronx Defenders, a non-profit provider of public defense services in New York City. The annual Law School exhibit, which honors women in the legal profession, revoked its invitation to Steinberg following backlash for her link to the controversial YouTube video “Hands Up.”

Steinberg has come under criticism, as some say the video’s lyrics and images appear to endorse killing white police officers in retaliation for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, unarmed black men who were killed by white police officers this summer. Two lawyers from the Bronx Defenders were featured in the video, and a New York City Investigation revealed that Steinberg did not check the contents of the video before allowing her employees to take part.

Steinberg, who was not in the video, is currently serving a 60-day suspension from her job.

The Women’s Law Association and the Law and International Development  Society—the two groups that organized the International Women’s Day exhibit—released a statement Monday retracting their invitation and condemning violence towards police officers.

They stated, “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.”

The statement adds that if Steinberg were vindicated, the two groups would consider Steinberg for a future exhibit.

The leaders of the group did not comment beyond their statement.

—Staff writer Andrew M. Duehren can be reached at andy.duehren@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @aduehren.

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