DC Public Defender’s Office Hires Harvard Student Facing Charges For Accosting Israeli Classmate

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia has hired Ibrahim Bharmal, a Harvard University law student facing misdemeanor charges for his role in a confrontation with an Israeli classmate during an October 2023 “die-in” protest. The public defender’s office recently shared a LinkedIn post detailing Bharmal’s experience as a law clerk and expressing gratitude for his “commitment to our clients.”

Bharmal and divinity school graduate student Elom Tettey-Tamaklo were each charged on May 19 with misdemeanor assault and battery and violations of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act in connection with the Oct. 18 protest outside Harvard Business School. Video footage shows the two students surrounding and pushing the Israeli student, impeding his ability to walk freely as onlookers shouted, “SHAME!”

Despite facing potential jail time of up to 100 days for each count, Bharmal has not faced disciplinary action from Harvard, according to a January legal complaint. He remains in good standing with the school, pursuing a joint degree program in law and public policy, and still lists his position as an editor for the Harvard Law Review on his LinkedIn profile.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R.-NY) has criticized Harvard’s handling of the incident, stating in an April letter to university leadership that the delay in justice “specifically allows an antisemitic student to graduate” and “demonstrates the cultural rot of Harvard University’s leadership that has allowed antisemitism to continue.”

The D.C. public defender’s office did not respond to inquiries about whether it was aware of Bharmal’s ongoing legal proceedings when offering him the clerkship position. Bharmal’s hiring raises questions about the vetting process for law clerks and the potential impact of his pending charges on his future legal career.