Former Obama advisor accepts plea deal to avoid hate crime charge

 January 23, 2024

Stuart Seldowitz, a former security adviser to President Barack Obama, has found himself at the center of legal proceedings following a hateful rant last year against a Manhattan halal food worker, allegedly fueled by the Israel-Hamas war.

Recent developments suggest that Seldowitz may see his hate crime charges dropped as part of a plea deal announced this week.

The incident

The incident unfolded in November, capturing public attention when Seldowitz was caught on video engaged in a virulent rant on Second Avenue and East 83rd Street on the Upper East Side.

While the edited video does not provide context for events leading up to the recording, Seldowitz can be heard making controversial remarks, stating, "If we killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, you know what, it wasn't enough. It wasn't enough."

According to court documents, Seldowitz first approached the halal truck on November 7 and returned at least three more times.

The charges brought against him on November 22 included aggravated harassment and a stalking/hate crime charge.

His court appearance

In a recent court appearance, Seldowitz entered into a plea deal with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. As part of the agreement, the 65-year-old is required to complete a 26-week anti-bias program in Queens.

Additional conditions include avoiding new arrests and compliance with a protection order against the halal cart worker.

Despite the seriousness of the charges, the Manhattan DA's office highlighted Seldowitz as a first-time offender with no previous criminal history.

His case now joins a list of at least 10 others in recent years that have been referred to Queens Counseling for Change by the Manhattan DA.

What's next?

The plea deal raises questions about the potential dropping of hate crime charges, signaling a nuanced resolution to a case that sparked public concern. Seldowitz's next court appearance is scheduled for April 17, 2024, where further details of the case and the implementation of the plea deal may come to light.

The incident underscores the complex interplay between freedom of expression, the legal consequences of hate speech, and the ongoing geopolitical tensions that can reverberate in unexpected ways in local communities.

As the legal process unfolds, the outcome of Seldowitz's case will likely contribute to ongoing discussions about the balance between individual rights and the societal repercussions of inflammatory speech.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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