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Two Public Defenders May Be In Big Trouble For Appearing In A Rap Video

They were in Maino and Uncle Murda's 'Hands Up' video.

When Maino and Uncle Murda dropped their "Hands Up" video in early December, it was a response to the recent deaths of unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the decisions of grand juries to not indict police officers for their roles in the respective incidents.

Recently, though, it's become something more.

According to The New York Times, the New York City Department of Investigation criticized the appearance in the video of two attorneys who work for the nonprofit law firm Bronx Defenders. The firm, though private, is contracted by New York City to defend people throughout Bronx, serving up to 35,000 clients per year.

Kumar Rao and Ryan Napoli, who work for Bronx Defenders, appear briefly in the video, which opens with raw footage of altercations between police and black men, as well as text attempting to shed light on injustices, including, "black teenagers are 21 times more likely to be shot dead by police than white teenagers."

Some of the lyrics similarly reflect this outlook: "'Cause I'm black, police think they got the right to shoot me," Uncle Murda raps at one point. "No jail for them, their punishment is desk duty."

Other lyrics, though -- and, as a result of their participation, the attorneys' association with those lyrics -- that have caused a stir.

"Time to start killing these coppers/ If Malcolm X was alive, he'll be next to me with them choppers," UM raps later.

"Advocating the killing of police officers is unacceptable and offensive," DOI commissioner Mark G. Peters said in the report. "These attorneys have abysmally failed to meet their obligations to their clients, to the courts and to the city as a whole."

In addition, the report was critical of the organization’s Executive Director, Robin Steinberg, saying that she approved the participation of Rao and Napoli without looking at the lyrics.

The investigation was launched on Dec. 12, though tensions between citizens and police became particularly heightened a week later, when two officers were killed in Brooklyn.

“The Bronx Defenders abhors the use of violence against the police under any circumstance,” they said in a statement.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, an NYC police union, is calling for the firm to be closed and the participating attorneys to be disbarred.

The city's mayor, Bill de Blasio, was similarly displeased, saying that, “the city will take all legal and contractual actions available to it” unless the Bronx Defenders addresses the concerns within the report.

According to the Times, the city is demanding that the Bronx Defenders discipline the Rao and Napoli by Feb. 4.