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Family, friends start petition campaign for Dharun Ravi

By Arthur J Pais
March 22, 2012 10:56 IST
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The petition claims that the ex-student of Rutgers University was prejudged and declared guilty, reports Arthur J Pais in New Jersey

The right to petition your government is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States constitution, says Washington. 'Throughout our history, Americans have used petitions to organise around issues they care about from ending slavery, to guaranteeing women's right to vote, to the civil rights movement.'

Dharun Ravi's family and friends have now initiated a petition drive even as they prepare to challenge the guilty verdict that includes bias intimidation (crime hate) and invasion of privacy as well as witness tempering. The signers do not have to give their reasons for backing the petitions but many tell their friends their feelings as they urge them to join the fight.

A few haven't realised that Ravi has not been sentenced as yet. For instance, Ankur Vaidya writes, 'Dharun Ravi, a bright and upcoming prospect does not deserve the sentence he has been given. Please sign the petition and show your support. Please send the link to people you know and have them sign. It does not take more than 1 minute to sign.'

The letter adds, 'Please share the burden by showing your support. This could happen to anyone. Me, you or any of our loved ones. Stand up against injustice.'

Some petitioners are influenced by op-ed columns and a few pointed out radio talk host and SF Gate columnist Emil Guillermo.

'After the Dharun Ravi verdict, suddenly I'm nostalgic for the days when a noose was a noose, a hood was a hood, and a hate crime was a hate crime,' he mused. 'Was there ever a doubt in that grand old formula? Add one person of color. One protected minority. Voila. Justice.'

He thought it sounded like the jury is making a scapegoat of Ravi for the death of Tyler Clementi. But Ravi didn't push or suggest to Clementi to jump off a bridge, the columnist added. 'Ravi isn't a murderer. He does strike me as a typical unkind, arrogant, privileged kid from the suburbs. Still, you don't go to jail for that.'

'For whatever despicable thing done by Ravi, there was already stuff going on inside of Tyler Clementi's head well before the webcam incident. In the broader sense, the perp wasn't Ravi, but all the other people who made up Clementi's world and made him feel the way he did. The school? The boyfriend? The family? Society in general?'

The goal of the petition is 25,000 signatures by April 15. The drive has received some 4,000 by the third week of March.

The petition reads: 'In 2010, Dharun Ravi, 18-year-old Rutgers student, secretly recorded his roommate Tyler Clementi with another man and posted it on the internet for everyone's view. For the next two years this is what was portrayed by media, politicians, activists' worldwide and it was believed to be true. He was prejudged and declared guilty (10 yr prison.)

'In 2012, we know none of this is true: nothing was ever recorded/broadcasted; every single witness testified that Ravi had NO hatred towards gays; however muddled law led to Guilty Verdict. Ravi was robbed of one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution: "presumption of innocence.'

'Your signature will guarantee equality/tolerance achieved through open/honest dialog and not through a vicious and vengeful prosecution.'
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