Molotov cocktail lawyers finally plead guilty. Again

Here are a couple of names that we haven’t seen in the headlines for a while. Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis are the two (former) New York City lawyers who constructed Molotov cocktails and firebombed a police vehicle during the summer of love back in 2020. They were identified almost immediately and arrested, leading to a series of plea deals that were announced and then rejected or withdrawn. The two could have been facing 30 years in prison or even life sentences under domestic terrorism charges. But this week they both entered a guilty plea (again) and will now very likely face far less time behind bars than had been originally anticipated. (Wall Street Journal)

Two lawyers involved in throwing a Molotov cocktail at a New York City police car during a 2020 protest following the killing of George Floyd pleaded guilty Thursday to a conspiracy charge, under a new agreement with prosecutors that could lead to a shorter prison sentence.

Urooj Rahman and Colinford Mattis faced federal charges after they assembled a chemical-filled glass bottle, which Ms. Rahman tossed into an empty police vehicle during the May 2020 protest in Brooklyn. She fled in a car driven by Mr. Mattis. The incident was recorded on local surveillance cameras. No one was injured.

Ms. Rahman and Mr. Mattis pleaded guilty last year to one count of possessing and making an explosive device, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

In the end, the court accepted guilty pleas from each of the defendants on a single charge of conspiracy to construct an explosive device. The maximum sentence for that is just five years but prosecutors don’t expect them to receive more than one to two years and a fine. They will also be permanently disbarred in New York.

Does that really seem like enough? Rahman was caught on video throwing the bomb, as well as driving away from the scene. Colinford Mattis had a pile of firebombs in his vehicle and was recorded as he attempted to hand them out to other rioters, encouraging them to ramp up the destruction. They admitted doing it multiple times in public, so there was never any question of guilt. As to motive and intent, one week after the attack, Urooj Rahman famously told reporters that “the only way they hear us is through violence.”

The pair were offered a plea deal as early as February of last year, but it apparently wasn’t good enough. They had been originally charged with seven felony counts including arson, conspiracy, and illegal use of explosives. In October, they finally pleaded guilty to one count of possession of an explosive device. That was vastly more lenient than the original charges, but the state somehow still couldn’t even close the deal. And now we’ve arrived at this single count of conspiracy and a slap on the wrist.

Was this a case of the prosecution somehow being worried that they wouldn’t be able to bring in a guilty verdict on any more serious charges? Or do New York City’s liberal prosecutors simply not want to put them away? Both of those possibilities might be in play. From the beginning, the media has played up the image of the bomb makers, describing them as “young and idealistic.” If this case had gone to trial, the press would no doubt continue doing it, claiming that the two were being “persecuted” by a racist system or whatever.

The court might not be able to find a full jury willing to pronounce them guilty despite the overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence proving the charges. And the district attorneys in New York are quite uninterested in charging cases of domestic terrorism unless it’s the right kind of domestic terrorism. (People who can be portrayed as white conservatives and probably Trump supporters.) They certainly don’t want to be locking anyone up for firebombing a law enforcement vehicle if it was done in the name of “social justice,” right?

There’s an old saying about how the wheels of justice turn slowly. In New York, sometimes they even spin in reverse.

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