NEW YORK (Feb. 5, 2015) — Bronx Defenders member Kumar Rao submitted a Letter or Resignation Wednesday, reportedly in the wake of his appearance in a controversial ‘Hands Up’ music video that served to criticize recent police shootings of unarmed suspects.
The following is a statement released Wednesday afternoon by Kumar Rao’s counsel, Charles Clayman, of Clayman & Rosenberg LLP followed by Mr. Rao’s letter of resignation to the Bronx Defenders. This move comes after members of the media scrutinized the participation of the Bronx public defenders in “HANDS UP” a controversial music with incendiary content by the hip-hop artists Uncle Murda and Mano.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES CLAYMAN:
“I wish to announce that my client, Kumar Rao, has resigned from the Bronx Defenders. His resignation letter is attached.
“For nearly seven years Mr. Rao served the residents of the Bronx and The Bronx Defenders- an organization dedicated to zealously advocating for the rights of the poorest people of in New York City’s most impoverished borough. Mr. Rao defended thousands of Bronx residents with integrity, skill and diligence. He is resigning because of his devotion to The Bronx Defenders and their mission and his belief that this act is in the best interest of the organization.
“Mr. Rao condemns today, as he always has, violence or threats of violence against any, especially law enforcement. He did not intend for The Bronx Defenders or himself to be associated with images or lyrics that suggest violence towards the police. He agreed to participate in the music video with the sole purpose of raising awareness in the community of legal services available to families affected by violence. Mr. Rao was shocked and dismayed by the final cut of the video which was released without his ability to view or edit, as had been agreed to by the producer.
“Upon viewing the released video, Mr. Rao raised his concerns with management, made efforts to have the video taken down and cooperated fully with the Department of Investigation. Through his resignation, he has taken responsibility for some significant lapses of judgment in his interactions with the makers of the video.
“Mr. Rao reiterates his deepest apologies for any pain his involvement with this video may have caused the City or the organization he so values.”
RESIGNATION LETTER FROM KUMAR RAO:
January 30, 2015
The Bronx Defenders
360 East 161″ Street
Bronx, NY 10451
It is with great sadness that I write you to tender my resignation from The Bronx Defenders. In light of recent events, I have concluded that my ongoing employment with the office is no longer in the best interest of the organization.
I have been honored to have spent the last six and a half years as an attorney with The Bronx Defenders, alongside you and its incredible staff, who day in and day out serve the residents of the Bronx with the utmost professionalism, skill and respect. Each day I spent at the office was one in which I proudly sought to advocate for our clients, their families, and their often overlooked and under-resourced community, both inside and outside of the courtroom.
I thought participating in this music video project would advance the interests of the community we serve as well as the interests of the organization. At all points during the process, I acted with those goals in mind and no others. As you know, I received assurances by the producer that we would be provided the opportunity to review and edit the lyrics and video before its release. Contrary to our understanding, the video that was released contained lyrics and images that I never approved and would never support, personally or on behalf of the organization. To say that I regret our involvement with this video would be an understatement.
As you know, I have spent the last seven weeks, from the moment the video was released, attempting to disassociate The Bronx Defenders and myself from this video. I have thought of nothing else but the difficulty this video has caused for the organization. Failing to further vet the artists involved and to memorialize in writing our right to edit and review the product before it was released turned out be an error in judgment. For that, I apologize to the staff and board of The Bronx Defenders, and to anyone in the Bronx and throughout our city for the pain our involvement in this video may have caused.
I am heartbroken to leave The Bronx Defenders under these circumstances, but I believe it to be the right thing to do. I am certain you understand and will accept my resignation.