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August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
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What If Gates Were An Unrenowned Jewish Black Woman?


Rivka was charged with “Obstruction of Governmental Administration in the Second Degree” and with “Unlawful Eviction.” The New York D.A.’s office refused to dismiss the charges even after all the facts were presented. The young prosecutor first demanded that Rivka plead guilty and perform community service and ultimately was willing to accept an unconditional “Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal.” Rivka refused to accept any terms other than outright dismissal because she insisted she had done nothing wrong.

The case went to a nonjury trial before a (white) judge who was a former prosecutor. He excluded much defense testimony as irrelevant and hearsay and rejected out of hand Rivka’s right to remain in her own bedroom after her discussion with the police. At the end of the trial, he found Rivka guilty on both counts and fined her $500. Rivka is appealing.

Would the police have broken the bedroom door of a white gentile and charged her with crimes after being called to a dispute between her and a roommate? Is this another instance – as the Gates arrest is said to be – of injustice against blacks, aggravated by Rivka’s Jewish identity?

Rivka is suing New York City, the policemen, and Brooke in federal court. The docket number of her case is 08 Civ. 10065. I am her lawyer.

About the Author: Nathan Lewin, a former president of the Greater Washington Jewish Community Relations Council, has argued 28 cases in the Supreme Court of the United States and is an adjunct lecturer at Columbia Law School where he teaches “Religious Minorities in Supreme Court Litigation.”


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