A director at the taxpayer-funded Bronx Defenders Office sent out an email blasting Israel, the “US empire” and even the NYPD amid the ongoing dispute with Palestinians in Gaza — likening the situation to “sanctioned genocide” against blacks and native Americans in America.
Shannon Cumberbatch, director of Bronx Defenders’ Office of Equity and Institutional Transformation, sent the May 14 email from her work email address to her “anti-oppression team.”
Bronx Defenders has received $262 million in city funding over the past decade to provide services to accused criminals and other poor defendants and citizens in legal proceedings, according to records compiled by Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.
The Bronx legal services group was also awarded $25 million in funding from the state over the last decade, records show.
In the email blast, Cumberbatch said Bronx Defenders stood in “solidarity with our comrades in Colombia, Brazil and Palestine who are fighting rampant state violence by militarized police forces that the US Empire helps to train and support financially and otherwise, while disproportionately targeting black, brown and native people in their countries, just as those forces do in the United States.”
Cumberbatch went on to “highlight the suffering of our Palestinian colleagues and comrades whose loved ones continue fighting for their survival and security” during the final days of Ramadan.
She then slams Israel military actions while downplaying Hamas’ launching of missiles into the Jewish State from Gaza. She specifically mentioned the “raid” of the Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.
“The present reality of the displacement, disenfranchisement and military violence happening abroad is reminiscent of the settler colonialism, state violence and sanctioned genocide weaponized against Native and people of color in the United States,” Cumberbatch said.
She also rips the New York City Police Department for working closely with Israeli security forces.
“From the US financing of Colombian and Israeli military forces, the collaboration between NYPD and law enforcement in Israel sharing tactics of surveillance and suppression, to the solidarity of protesters from Ferguson to Palestine sharing strategies for surviving state violence, our struggle for freedom is international and our liberties are intertwined,” she said.
But a lawyer who works for Bronx Defenders was outraged by the anti-Israel, anti-US invective in Cumberbatch’s email and forwarded it to former Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who heads the group Americans against Antisemitism.
“Personally, I don’t care for anyone’s anti-Jewish views, but when a government-funded organization offers their unsolicited opinion on foreign policy so as to increase divisions here at home then we must demand accountability,” Hikind told The Post.
“And this isn’t the first time they indulged in objectionable behavior, so why does New York City, among other governmental agencies, keep funding them to the tune of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars annually?”
Bronx Defenders came under fire in 2014 when two of its staffers appeared in a vile online rap video that urged black people to kill NYPD cops.
A city Department of Investigating probe issued a scathing report in 2015 concluding that Bronx Defender staffers lied about their role in the video, including filming of it in their office.
The head of the Bronx Defenders office defended Cumberbatch’s e-screed.
“This email was part of an ongoing internal discussion about how events around us impact our clients and our employees and was a communication that, as a Jewish person, I endorsed at the time and stand by today,” Bronx Defenders’ Executive Director Justine Olderman said in a statement to The Post.
“Our naming and amplifying the suffering of Palestinian people in an email to staff should not be mistaken for organizational indifference to the experience of people in Israel who have been living in fear and have lost loved ones, to the growing threat of anti-semitism at home and abroad, or to the history of Jewish oppression.
“Instead, it should be understood as an intentional effort to center the experiences of BIPOC and other marginalized people within our Bronx Defender community and beyond. It should also be understood as an intentional effort to raise awareness about the way that the issues we work on at The Bronx Defenders are connected to larger events and movements in the country and across the globe,” added Olderman.