Dharun Ravi Supporters Rally Days Before Sentencing [AUDIO]
With a week to go before sentencing, hundreds of supporters held a rally at the State House in Trenton on behalf of Dharun Ravi, the former Rutgers student found guilty of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation for using a webcam to spy on his roommate.
Ravi was convicted in March and will be sentenced on Monday. His roommate, Tyler Clementi, killed himself days after the spying.
Supporters, many from New Jersey’s Indian community, held signs that read, “Justice Not Vengeance” and “Set Dharun Free” outside the state capitol.
Also in attendance was Seton Hall Law professor Marc Poirer, who said he found no signs of a hate crime charge against Ravi, because hate crimes typically involve some kind of violence or hateful speech against someone.
“I could not find anything in my research about invasion of privacy or roommates or peeping toms…any of the things Ravi was charged and convicted of as a predicate for a hate crime” said Poirer.
Supporters held the rally to call attention to what they see as problems with the state’s hate crime laws.
“The background of hate crimes law comes out of lynching, anti-gay violence, not the kind of invasion of privacy problem that occurred here” said Poirer.
The 20 year-old faces up to ten years in prison when he’s sentenced next week.
“Five to ten years in prison for murder or arson, okay…but for encouraging people to spy on somebody, I don’t think so” said Poirer.
Prosecutors want jail time for Ravi. His defense attorneys want probation and have asked the judge to overturn the verdict or grant a new trial.
“It’s a complete witch-hunt” said one man at the podium. “We want justice for Dharun..and we feel the verdict didn’t deliver that.”
“The law doesn’t apply to this case and we need to figure out how social media, facebook, twitter, webcams and all of that factors into a case like this…the law was applied subjectively” said another woman.
“This is a roommate quarrel and a prank…and I watched as the vengeance aspect of this seems to have taken control” said Poirer.
Ravi’s parents made a brief appearance, and told the media and the crowd that he didn’t get a fair trial, “please wake up and bring some justice for Dharun.”