Colinford Mattis: Ivy League Lawyer Arrested in New York Molotov Cocktail Incident

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On May 30, Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman, two Brooklyn lawyers, were arrested after a Molotov cocktail was launched at an empty police vehicle in Fort Greene, according to the New York Post.

According to the New York Times, video surveillance outside the 88th Precinct captured Rahman climbing out of a tan Chrysler minivan, lighting the fuse attached to a Budweiser bottle and hurling the makeshift bomb into the window of a marked police cruiser. Police reports also claim that officers saw Rahman throw the Molotov cocktail before climbing back into the minivan and speeding away.

Officers pursued the car for a couple of blocks before they successfully stopped the car, according to the Post. Police say Mattis, a Princeton-educated lawyer with a J.D. from New York University, was behind the wheel and that supplies to make additional devices were in plain view inside the car.

A Molotov cocktail is defined as a destructive device in the National Firearms Act. The design was first used in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and earned its name during the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland in 1939 to 1940. The name comes from Vyacheslav Molotov, a Soviet foreign minister who claimed bombs dropped on Finnish troops were actually humanitarian aid. The Finns nicknamed the bombs “Molotov bread baskets” and called their makeshift weapons “Molotov cocktails.” According to the New Republic, Molotov cocktails were instrumental in fending off the Soviet invasion of the Finnish capital. The weapon has been used intermittently since then. None of the ingredients are illegal or particularly eye-raising on their own.

According to the New York Post, if they are convicted, Mattis and Rahman will each face up to 20 years in federal prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

Mattis Touts a Long and Impressive Resume Online

According to LinkedIn, Mattis held a slew of impressive roles before his arrest. He was an anti-poverty intern for the mayor of San Francisco, a middle school math and science teacher with Teach for America, an intellectual property intern at Microsoft, a legislative fellow for Colorado State Senator Mike Johnson and the president of the Princeton University Black Student Union. At the time of his arrest, Mattis was a furloughed associate at Pryor Cashman and a board member on the Brooklyn Community Board, according to the New York Times.

According to his profile at Pryor Cashman, Mattis advised on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, financing and corporate governance, reported the New York Times. The profile is no longer available on Pryor Cashman’s website. Ronald H. Schechtman, the managing partner of Pryor Cashman, released a statement indicating that they would review Mattis’s status at the firm this week, according to the New York Times.

“As we confront critical issues around historic and ongoing racism and inequity in our society, I am saddened to see this young man allegedly involved in the worst kind of reaction to our shared outrage over what had occurred,” the statement said.

According to the New York Times, Rahman is also exceptionally well-educated and worked as a human rights lawyer before her arrest. According to reports, she was identified in a Facebook post about a speaking engagement in April with a Muslim group, where Rahman was supposed to discuss “Love of the Earth.” It’s unclear how the pair know each other.

Federal Prosecutors Say Mattis and Rahman Attempted to Distribute Molotov Cocktails

On Monday, federal prosecutors said Mattis and Rahman attempted to distribute Molotov cocktails to protesters before they were arrested, according to the New York Post. Prosecutors referenced photographic evidence of the attempted distribution taken by a witness.

According to the New York Post, prosecutors referenced the prestigious backgrounds of the pair to demonstrate that they were fully aware of the consequences of their actions.

“They knew their acts endangered the NYPD officers and protesters on the street, as well as their own futures, and the defendants were undeterred,” they wrote.

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