An Open Letter from the Fordham Law Community in Support of Urooj Rahman ’15 and Colinford Mattis

Leena Widdi
12 min readJun 19, 2020

[Add your signature here:]

As over 650 current Fordham Law students, student organizations, faculty, staff and alumni, we write to express our deep dismay with the federal government’s aggressive charging and pursuit of the pre-trial detention of Urooj Rahman, a 2015 Fordham Law graduate, and Colinford (“Colin”) Mattis. Urooj and Colin are attorneys of color and respected community members who were arrested on May 30, 2020 while protesting the murder of George Floyd and systemic anti-Black police brutality. On that day, Urooj and Colin took part in an unprecedented national and global uprising that comprised hundreds of thousands of people.

Throughout this uprising, we have witnessed the Trump Administration’s attempts to distract from the reality of police brutality. This includes President Trump’s conspiracy theories about Martin Gugino, the 75-year old protestor who was hospitalized after being assaulted by Buffalo police officers; and his tear-gassing of protestors for a photo opportunity in front of the White House. The disproportionate prosecution of Urooj and Colin is another iteration of the Trump administration’s attempt to detract from police violence in the US. And indeed, Rahman, a Pakistani Muslim immigrant and Mattis, a young Black man, are convenient scapegoats given this country’s deeply entrenched and violent history of anti-Black racism and Islamophobia.

We believe that the Department of Justice’s prosecution and efforts to incarcerate Urooj and Colin are a gross overreach of federal law enforcement power, and an attempt to stifle and delegitimize dissent against police brutality. Urooj and Colin are facing charges of attempting to burn an unoccupied and already damaged NYPD vehicle during nationwide protests. There is no indication that anyone was in the immediate vicinity when they allegedly committed these acts. Nonetheless, the government has charged Urooj and Colin with federal crimes that carry a 45-year mandatory minimum sentence, and a potential for life imprisonment.

Beyond the excessive charges, the federal government has also taken all measures to ensure that Urooj and Colin are detained pre-trial. Two federal judges — District Judge Brodie and Magistrate Judge Gold — found that Urooj and Colin could be safely released with electronic monitoring and home confinement. And indeed, both fully complied with these conditions. Despite this compliance, the federal government swiftly appealed this decision, and they are now back in jail. By stark contrast, Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who murdered George Floyd, was granted bail.

We firmly believe that the decisions to release Urooj and Colin were the correct ones. Urooj and Colin are life-long New Yorkers, and respected attorneys who have given back to their communities in innumerable ways.

Urooj is a Pakistani-American Muslim who immigrated to the US as a young child. She is a vocal advocate for racial and economic justice who has spent her life in the service of marginalized communities. Urooj has long been engaged in advocacy on the over-policing of Black and Brown communities in New York, particularly around the targeting and over-surveillance of Muslims after 9/11. She is a graduate of Fordham College and Fordham Law School. As a law student, Urooj co-directed an LGBTQI human rights defender training in Cape Town, South Africa. She also worked to assist and advocate for refugees fleeing to Turkey, providing direct services to asylum seekers in Istanbul. In her final year, Urooj championed the preservation of our constitutional protections through her work at the Center for Constitutional Rights and Fordham Law’s Center for National Security. As an attorney, Urooj worked at Bronx Legal Services, providing legal representation for low-income tenants in housing court. Urooj is a loving daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She lives with and cares for her elderly mother in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where she grew up.

Like Urooj, Colin is a devoted advocate for Black and Latinx youth, and his commitment to race equity has profoundly enriched the communities he is a part of. In 2019, Colin was recognized by Her Justice for his outstanding pro bono advocacy for low-income women. Outside of work and after the recent death of his mother, Colin has taken on the responsibility of raising three young foster siblings and has provided for his family with emotional and financial support.

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Urooj and Colin and call on the federal government to drop these politically motivated charges and its aggressive pursuit of detention without bail. Two well-respected federal judges both decided that Urooj and Colin should safely await trial in their communities. The federal government should not be allowed to use this prosecution as a weapon to silence the voices of those demanding the change that this country so desperately needs.

In solidarity,

The Undersigned

* names not followed by a year of graduation or affiliation are current Fordham Law students

Deema Nagib ‘18

Frank Kearl ‘18

Hannah Silverman ‘20

Anita Rojas Carroll ’18

Leanne Fornelli ‘19

George A Kottas ’08, Adjunct Professor

Mary Kate LeViness ’19

Claire Glass ’16

Leah Horowitz ’06

Michael Rivera ’19

Luna Garzon-Montano ‘21

Jacqueline Prosky ‘21

Christina John ‘21

Hema Lochan ‘21

Brian Sarfo

Dylan Nelsen-Epstein

Shanice Harris

Connor Smith

Melissa Brij-Raj

Jared Arc ‘19

Maura Moosnick

Sophia Rivero ‘21

Alex Berke ‘14

Erin Miles Cloud ‘12

Yazmine Nichols ‘20

Sacha Thompson ‘06

Amanda Maisel

Leena Widdi ‘19

Shaileen Berlas ‘20

Emily Miranda Galindo ‘12

Aleksandra Ryshina

Nora Stephens

Sarah Acree

Kelsey Halloran

Elizabeth Joynes Jordan ‘10

Lauren Gorab ‘19

Quinn D’Isa

Chi Mgbako, Clinical Professor of Law, Director, Leitner International Human Rights Clinic

Diana Cabrera

Eric Mathieu

Sylvia Rosner

Vanessa Rendon Vasque-

Kathy Walter ‘17

Chaz Rotenberg ‘21

Alexandra Cosio-Marron

Julia Hatheway

Taylor Carter ‘21

Sidney Morales Parodie

Eli Salamon-Abrams

Caitlin Hickey ‘19

Jessica Carnevale ‘18

Maxwell Kraus

Rachel M. Patterson

Shirin Dhanani ‘18

Lucy Hoffman

Leah A Hill, Associate Dean for Experiential Education

Laura Petty

Kestine Thiele

Aswini Periyasamy

Benjamin Diamond

Jeremy Montano

Michelle Chan ‘15

Aminta Kilawan-Narine ’13

Hinako Gojima ‘16

Melodie Eastmond ‘14

Angelo Guisado ‘12

Ashley Johnson ‘17

Eileen Ceconi

Ridhima Goyal ‘17

Jessie Boas ‘19

Faith Meixell

Justin Peters ‘15

Lura Chamberlain ‘20

Eric Szkarlat

Michelle Avelar

Elisabeth Wickeri, Executive Director, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice

Gina Kim ‘16

Jocelyn Lee

Ian King ‘15

Giselle Alvarado

Laura Reed

John Kofi Osei-Tutu ‘16

Christina Menga ‘16

Yarelyn Mena ‘19

Michelle Avelar

Salley Kim ‘16

Alexandra Fisher ‘16

Prescott Loveland ‘15

Eric Szkarlat

Sarah Moya

Joanna Barrett

Maham Abidi

Wonhee Hong ‘16

Qian Shen ‘16

Annie Harper

Dohee Kim ‘16

Noelle Park ‘16

Nita Narayan ‘14

Michelle Avelar

Ryan A. Partelow ‘19

Le Mecia Ross-Tigett

Paula Sternberg ‘14

Mary Gibbons ‘15

Melissa Aziz ‘20

Oluwayemisi Danmola ‘19

Alessandra Spada ‘16

Akilah M Browne ‘16

Alexander Ehrlich

Qian Shen

Hannah Babiss

Charles Tso

Elena Cicognani ‘21

Emma-Lee Clinger ‘20

Tonya Rodgers ‘13

Tatum Sornborger

Ashna Pai ‘18

Kirsten Flicker

Erandi M Trevino

Lisa Taapken

Lena Bruce ‘20

Yuliya Brodska

Lauren Scully ‘20

Rebecca Susko’18

Sara E. Yood ‘11

Elizabeth Bender ‘11

Julia Bonnell ‘21

Danielle falls ‘18

Lauren Molinaro

Kelly Lai

Sarah Matari ‘11

Rachel Smith ‘20

Cassandra Basile

Kathleen McCullough ‘20

Hilary McDonnell ‘19

Chelsea Gray ‘14

Yating Wang ‘20

Anthony Orlich 16

Raina Duggirala ‘20

Rebecca Zipursky ‘20

Vanessa Toro-Plaza

Raquel Gonoretzky

Christina Costello ‘19

Javed Yunus ‘17

Brianna O’Connor ‘13

Shade Quailey ‘19

Gabriella Weick

Luis Pena-Navarro, 20

Anthony Agolia, Director of International and Non-J.D. Programs

Rajiv Shah ‘11

Anna Singer ‘19

Reem Ahmed

Demitrios Kalomiris

Matthew Treiber

Aishling Fitzpatrick ‘20

David B. Marx

Glen Dalakian II ‘19

Emma DeCourcy ‘20

Kaitlyn Piper ‘11

Traci Krasne ‘19

Mari Byrne ‘11

Joan Abelardo ‘17

Naomi Babu ‘17

Kathryn Lang ‘99

Elizabeth Slater ‘17

Rachel Graves ‘13

Chaz Rotenberg ‘21

Mairead Jones-Kennelly ‘16

Miyoshie Lamothe-Aime ‘19

Raina Duggirala ‘20

Janet Cha ‘10

Georg Reetz Aderhold ‘20

Molly K Webster ‘16

Alessandra Messing ‘11

Albert Oduro

Laura Rodriguez ‘13

Daniel Buckley ‘10

Ami Sanghvi ‘05

Katherine Skeele ‘08

David Mandel-Anthony ‘10

Mohamed Sidibay ‘21

Jordan Kovnot ‘11

Alyson Pomerantz ‘01

Belkis Talarico ‘97

Alexander Mooney

Sharon Hang ‘15

Anna Sacerdote ‘21

Andrea Rodríguez ‘18

Fatima Kabia ‘18

Vi Thai Tran ‘17

Stacy Charland ‘04

Pamela White

Victoria Cassel ‘15

Jennifer Gordon ‘17

Sara Gates ‘17

Jared DaCosta

Katherine Fabian ‘13

Jessica Friedrich ‘15

Aryian Kohandel-Shirazi ‘20

Anna McEnroe

Veronica Marquez ‘11

Jennifer Ferentz ‘21

Samuel Moorhead ‘16

Bina Nayee ‘19

Pooja Bhaskar ‘20

Nicole Price ‘19

Shabhia Aktar ‘19

Alexandra Rizio ‘12

Antoine Morris ‘19

Christopher Pedro ‘19

Jeff Williams ‘07

Marissa Volpe

Anthony Johnson ‘18

Vanessa Vecchiarello ‘20

Russell Pearce, Professor of Law; Edward and Marilyn Bellet Chair in Legal Ethics, Morality, and Religion

Molly Silverstein ‘19

Kelsey Ripper ‘13

Alison Holtzman ‘18

Emerson G. Argueta ‘18

Sue Zhou ‘15

Maxwell Deabler-Meadows ‘15

Stephanie Peterson

Andrew Dunn ‘18

Joanna Zdanys ‘13

Saniya Suri ‘21

Nicole Price ‘19

Daniel Gross ‘07

Annie Chen ‘09

Karen Loewy ‘00

Maude Jones ‘11

Nadia Semmar ‘18

Dilon Goncalves , Administrative Program Coordinator, Feerick Center for Social Justice

Aviva Kushner ‘18

Gilbert Martinez ‘00

Sarah Borsody ‘11

John Montoute ‘13

Erick T. Haman ‘15

Sarah Baldwin ‘15

Maya Kitayama ‘18

Jeannie Nist ‘04

Journee Berry ‘20

Laura Alvarez ‘09

Robert A Moore ‘15

Shannon Dixon ‘15

Marny Requa ‘04

Dorry Gardner ‘04

Artemio Guerra ‘10

Jocelyn Smerd ‘12

Dora Galacatos ‘96

Jonathan Delman

Joseph Krummel, Esq. ‘00

Mrs. Joan Sikand, Esq. ‘98

Mamta Kaushal ‘02

Lisa J Vasnani ‘13

Diana Imbert ‘19

Giulia La Scala

Asia Riddick ‘14

Niccolo Premutico

Kelsey Halloran

Andrew Kirschenbaum ‘19

Aaliya Zaveri ’15

Razeen Zaman ‘16

Tanya Hernandez, Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law

Madison Snelling

Devin Perez

Praatika Prasad ‘19

John Hobbs ‘21

John Santacruz ‘18

Scott Eckl

Niccolo Premutico

Liam Cutler

Christa Coryea

Matt Zanis

Jessica Breuer ‘17

Hannah Ahern ‘17

Craig Shepherd ‘19

Vesna Naidoo-Chinsammy ‘19

Kimya Zahedi

Asia Riddick

Caroline Corley ‘17

Kimani Paul-Emile, Professor of Law, Associate Director of Center on Race, Faculty Co-Director of the Fordham Law School Stein Center for Law & Ethics Law & Justice

Abigail Krusemark

Shanice Harris

Lawrence Coffey

Hannah Ahern ‘17

Angeline Leggiero

Sahar Moazami ‘17

Robin Lenhardt, Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Center on Race, Law and Justice

Laura Wooley ‘17

Yando Peralta ‘17

Darius Johnson ‘21

Lucy Hoffman

Susu Zhao

Jennifer Louis-Jeune ‘18

Daniela Mancini ‘16

Kathryn Neilson ‘06

Sarah Leberstein ‘08

Mary Humphreys

Cheryl Bader, Clinical Associate Professor of Law, former AUSA, District of New Jersey

Marka Belinfanti ‘06

Sylvia Rosner

Angeline Leggiero

Stephanie Lopez ‘11

Caroline Friedman ‘14

Emily Sullivan ‘19

Martha Rayner, Clinical Associate Professor of Law

Stephanie Salomon ‘20

Malcolm Sanborn-Hum

Zohra Ahmed ‘13

Anna McEnroe

Shayonna Cato

Emily Dolgin

Anna Singer ‘19

Danyelle Everett-O’Neill

Emily Dolgin

Negin Hadaghian ‘14

Mariam Zein

Jenny Yakir

Michael Marano

Julia Gordon

David Breyer

Joseph Palandrani

Aaron Gladstone

Fordham National Lawyers Guild

Fordham Workers Rights Advocates

Tom Callahan ‘16

Sarah Brathwaite

Jee-Eun gahng ‘16

Daniel Capra, Reed Professor of Law

Emma McGrath

Zoë Williams

Elyssa Diamond

Mirelis Gonzalez

Annie Harper

Nicholas Loh

Michael Alberto

Michael Marano

Hillary Exter, formerly of the Public Interest Resource Center

Eileen Ceconi

Jeremy Montano

Chris Beall ‘17

Vidushi Dyall

Chris Vaughan

James Hamilton

Inessa Abayev ‘13

Alessandra Spada

Robert Iodice ’16; adjunct faculty

Leah Felsher

Alessandra Spada

Ashley Mitchell ‘16

David Harvey ‘14

Douglas Bastidas

Caitlin Ramiro

Dana McBeth, Esq. ‘19

Mehak Jamil, ‘13

Melissa Romain ‘19

Michelle Gonzalez ‘14

Sarah Brathwaite

Kevin Lopez

Estelle Wagner ‘15

Sapana Anand ‘20

Megi Belegu ‘19

Anissa Adas ‘20

Savannah Price ‘20

Manny A.

Dan Curbelo Zeidman ‘15

Michael Mathews ‘19

Ian Weinstein, Professor of Law

Darius Johnson ‘20

Lizbeth Sanchez ‘21

Claire Cumberland ‘13

Sarah Lorr ‘10

Kelvin Collado ‘14

Lauren Irby ‘15

Kajon Pompey ‘18

Hannah Cohen ‘19

Anna Heim

Elizabeth Ling ‘15

Greg Jacobs ‘20

Dave Krauss ‘15

Susu Zhao

Yelena Ambartsumian ‘13

Abdulai Turay

Saniya Suri

Emma Sanzotta ‘20

Hannah Bernard ’20

Krina Patel ‘19

Cassandra Rohme ‘14

Rafita Ahlam

Deborah Levine ‘19

Ayinde Sawyer ‘11

Abdul Hafiz ‘19

Evan Lin ‘19

Ilana Blumenthal

Anisha Mirchandani ‘19

Claudia Bennett ‘20

Lauren Schulman

Alexandra Kiosse

Alexandra Deitz

Mary Wilson ‘20

Redwan Saleh ‘18

Sean Corrado ‘20

Jessica Heymach

Zaneb M. ‘20

Ben Halperin ‘19

Ashley Garcia ‘18

Amira Privott-Yeiser ‘18

Marti McCausland ‘03

Chandler Michael ‘12

Ben Kremnitzer

Angelica Kang ‘16

Willyne Michel

Mary Diaz

Kelly Carr ‘16

Bilal Chaudhry ‘18

Miranda K. Lievsay ‘17

Hillary Creed ‘14

Julia Hatheway

Erin Shahinfar ‘19

Katie Doman

Dani Kirsztajn ‘15

Albert Oduro

Carmela Huang ‘17

Sloane Lewis ‘20

Sara Buchholz ‘19

Anthony Johnson ‘19

Mike Garcia ‘11

Sherif Farrag ‘21

Alex Forgione

Bianca Van Deusen ‘19

Kristine Rose C. Itliong ‘20

Cecilia Culverhouse ‘08

Stephanie Chery ‘15

Isabella Abelite ‘20

Claire Abrahamson ‘20

Joshua Kelly ‘19

Christina Bai

Lisa Gary ‘10

Sheuvaun Vernon ‘16

Jocelyn Ng

Anthony Damelio

Yarelyn Mena ‘20

Maraiya Hakeem ‘17

Alex Stone ‘14

Laura Mondragon ‘11

Vani Upadhyaya ‘19

Deborah Mantell ‘07

Savannah Madley

Kaylia Gilphilin ‘19

Marc Epstein ‘15

Lauren Ammons ‘17

Mollie Cearley ‘17

Christa Coryea

Ahbra Moses ‘14

Meghan Newcomer ‘14

Austen Ishii ‘15

Natasha Demosthene ‘03

Aisha Baruni, Director of Public Interest Scholars & Counseling, Publci Interest Resource Center

Mallory Chandler ‘19

Tabitha Reynoso, Administrator

Earl Antonio Wilson, Esq. ‘05

Gemma Solimene, Clinical Associate Professor of Law

Jeff Kinkle ‘16

Denae Kassotis ‘19

Amit Aulakh ‘11

Aviva Nusbaum ‘14

Sonia Allahdad ‘19

Keith Hoffmann ‘14

Willyne Michel ‘18

Saraswati Tomar ‘13

Sydney Lim ‘18

Meghan Spillane ‘08

David O’Brien ‘16

Michael Zimmerman ‘12

Jessica Jenkins ‘10

Bill Roegge ‘14

Jessica Rose ‘01

Cesar Cardenas ‘06

Bianca Corrado ‘19

Michael W. Martin ’92, Associate Dean for Experiential Education, Director of Clinical Programs, and Clinical Professor of Law

Brandon Ruben ‘16

David R Levy ‘12

Tracy Tang ‘01

Meredith J. McBride ‘18

Anthoula Vasiliou ‘19

Jenny Yun ‘05

Jake Hays ‘17

Janice Fajardo ‘95

Caroline Lapidus ‘09

Sofia Linarte ‘15

Maddison Levine ‘20

Jack Pace ‘98

Amy Loprest ‘95

Guillermo Farias ‘15

Vianka Abreu ‘21

Alison Wininger ‘10

Kristin Hiensch ‘06

Alana Roth ‘12

Susan Chung ‘01

Sajia Hanif

Aryan Hawkins ‘14

Lucinda Saunders O’Hanlon ‘02

Vikram Paul ‘19

Fordham Law Defenders

Alexandra Fuhr ‘18

Mahnoor Misbah ‘18

Katrina Baker ‘08

Janice Chua ‘14

Parul Bhatia ‘18

Zachary Groendyk ‘13

Jessica Eber ‘13

Katrina Baker ‘08

Kevin Winnie

Serena Joyce White-Lake ‘10

James Moore ‘15

Eleni Venetos

Tatiana Hyman

Herbie Rosen ‘17

Jeremy Kossoff

Haleigh Zillges

Lindsey Rosenthal ‘20

Roshni Hemlani ‘15

Alessandra Maldonado ‘20

Katie Campbell ‘17

Dhwani Patel

Anja Gleicher

Thomas Schoenherr, Assistant Dean, Public Interest Resource Center

Corina Bogaciu ‘09

Sophia Dauria ‘20

Ruhi Behal ‘19

Wanda Day ‘03

Kelly Chiang ‘10

Courtney Vice

Kara Rivas

Taylor Norton ‘19

Maria A. Ariztizabal Jauregui, ’17

Rebecca Rubin ‘20

Nicole Tell ‘98

Sunjay Mathews ‘10

Shamola Bonner ‘18

Julie Cho ‘10

Courtney Vice

Melissa L Stewart ‘09

Deanna Cohen ’20

Leila W Morgan ‘04

Daria Brosius ‘20

Heather Sivert ‘01

Nathaniel Sundel ‘20

Linda Jordan ‘14

Morganne Barrett ‘20

Stephen Della Fera ‘14

Charlie D’Oria ‘19

Kiara Pillay ‘20

Tyler Crawford ‘20

Julianne Duran ‘16

Erik Krusch ‘14

Sam Jackson ‘14

Julia Bonnell ‘21

Natasha Demosthene ‘03

Miyoshie Lamothe-Aime ‘19

Richard Routh ‘14

Steven Ekechuku ‘10

Luis Pena-Navarro ‘20

Corina Bogaciu ‘09

Denis Nolasco ‘17

Gabrielle Kornblau ‘19

Theodore Sangalis ‘12

Eliel Talo ‘19

Lucas Cavellucci Landi

Scott Budow ‘16

Andrew Yu ‘20

Caitlyn B. Holuta ‘21

Danielle Rowe ‘16

Linette Munoz ‘21

Priya Pasricha ‘20

Alejandro Hidalgo ‘15

Scott Budow ‘16

Jared DaCosta

Sue Zhou ‘11

Ashna Pai ‘18

Jodie Shihadeh ‘11

Susu Zhao

Gabriella Romanos ‘20

Meredith Hatic ‘13

Zachary Zajdel ‘23

William Lanier

Kate Reinertson ‘23

Olivia Angel ‘23

Alyssa Sanders ‘23

Jared DaCosta

Isabel Hannah Zeitz-Moskin

Jay Jung ‘23

Emily Jungwirth

Emily Jungwirth

Christine Gartland ‘20

Alexandra Rosin ‘06

Kaela Economos, Social Work Supervisor, Criminal Defense Clinic

Matthew Broccolo ‘14

Ashley Darrell, Clinic Legal Assistant

Candice Adams, Managing Director for Clinical and Experiential Programs

Christopher Pioch ‘16

Nicole Mecca ‘22

Tal Winer ‘06

Eric Hechler ‘23

Deborah Eltgroth ‘10

Babatunde Alade ‘23

Sara Christina Brown ‘22

Alex Stone ‘14

Michael Smaila ‘14

Carly Huffman ‘15

Cynthia Cho ‘12

Kavita Bhatt-Kapadia ‘04

Vivian Hadis ‘06

Sharon Balmer ‘07

Cynthia Cho ‘12

Gowri Krishna ‘06

Suemyra Shah ‘10

Katherine Lamper-Radetsky ‘12

Grace Lozito, Senior Administrative Director for Clinical and Experiential Programs

Morgan Larkin ‘20

Mauricio Melara ‘05

Tatiana Galbrecht ‘19

Paul Radvany, Clinical Professor of Law

Danielle Gargano ‘23

Amber L Lewis ‘07

Candace Sena ‘22

Natalie A. Turchi ‘16

Rachel Bracken ‘07

S. Scott Miller ‘12

Tricia B. Reilly, Esq. ‘19

Yessica Yi ‘13

Jessica Farr ‘11

Kizzy Jarashow ‘07

Jonathan Forgang ‘10

Michelle Orchard

Leeanne McIntyre

Sharad Khemani ’05, Faculty

Jonathan Park ‘13

Nicole Abene ‘15

Peter Torre ‘14

Olivier Sylvain, Professor of Law

Nicole Washienko ‘07

Idalys Nunez ‘17

Ben Bloodstein ‘20

Catherine Schaefer ‘20

Milana Dostanitch ‘14

Alice Goldenberg ‘15

Dana Swanson ‘15

Shona Bolger ‘21

Alessandra Spada

Sherry Rodriguez ‘13

Ilene Goodman ‘14

Jordan Peterson ‘21