Harvard Student Facing Criminal Charges for Accosting Israeli Classmate Lands Job in DC Public Defender's Office

'Thank you for your commitment to our clients, Ibrahim!' says public defender's office

Ibrahim Bharmal (Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia)
June 11, 2024

A Harvard University law student who was charged with two misdemeanors after accosting an Israeli classmate last October has now landed a job in Washington, D.C.'s public defender's office.

The student, identified in a Washington Free Beacon report as Harvard Law Review editor Ibrahim Bharmal, has landed an immigration law clerkship with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, according to a LinkedIn post. Bharmal and divinity school graduate student Elom Tettey-Tamaklo were each charged with two misdemeanors on May 19 stemming from their conduct at an Oct. 18 "die-in" protest held outside Harvard Business School. Bharmal and Tettey-Tamaklo were captured on camera accosting a first-year Israeli business school student, surrounding the student and making it difficult for him to walk freely, as keffiyeh-clad onlookers shouted, "SHAME!"

Bharmal was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery and with violations of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, which prohibits attempts to "intimidate or interfere with … any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him [or her] by the constitution." Bharmal is expected back in court in September for his arraignment and faces up to 100 days in jail for each count, court filings reviewed by the Free Beacon show.

There is no indication that Harvard has taken any disciplinary action against Bharmal. When asked if his pending charges and a possible conviction would impact his graduation—scheduled for next year—Harvard told the Free Beacon that it does "not comment on individual considerations related to discipline or student status."

Since the incident, Bharmal has remained in good standing with the school. In fact, Bharmal avoided discipline altogether, according to a January legal complaint. He is pursuing a joint degree program at the Ivy League university, namely a law degree and a master's in public policy, and still lists being an editor for the Harvard Law Review on his LinkedIn. Tettey-Tamaklo—the other student involved—was removed from his role as a freshman proctor in November, but otherwise, the school did "nothing to sanction" him, the complaint said.

Bharmal did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the D.C. public defender's office shared a post about Bharmal on LinkedIn, detailing his experience as a law clerk and thanking him for his "commitment to our clients." Bharmal says in the post that, after graduating Harvard, he would like to support "immigrants, asylum-seekers, and other newly arriving neighbors." The post also revealed a "fun fact" about Bharmal: "He is currently training to be a bollywood spin instructor...class sign-ups incoming."

The office did not respond to a request for comment on whether it was aware of Bharmal's ongoing legal proceedings.

"I'd like to serve my home communities, specifically supporting immigrants, asylum-seekers, and other newly arriving neighbors. I endeavor to use legal advocacy as one tool to stem the harmful effects of our country's carceral and exclusionary immigration systems onto the vulnerable populations I come from," Bharmal says in the post. "I'm still determining where I'll land in the immediate short term, but I envision myself practicing as an immigration, criminal defense, or civil rights attorney after graduating."

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Bharmal would be allowed to take the bar exam because "a person's background does not affect them taking the bar," a spokeswoman from the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners told the Free Beacon. A "criminal background is taken into account to deem the qualified to practice law in Massachusetts," however, said the spokeswoman, adding that "we evaluate each candidate on a case-by-case basis."

Harvard has faced congressional criticism over its handling of the incident and in a November statement pledged to "address the incident through its student disciplinary procedures."

In a letter sent to interim Harvard president Alan Garber and Harvard Corporation head Penny Pritzker in April, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) said the school has produced "no evidence of punishment against those who have committed crimes and violated Harvard's code of conduct."

"Justice for this incident should have been served quickly," Stefanik wrote, "and the delay of justice that specifically allows an antisemitic student to graduate is an affront to accountability and demonstrates the cultural rot of Harvard University's leadership that has allowed antisemitism to continue."

During the now-infamous "die-in," Bharmal and Tettey-Tamaklo were filmed pushing and shoving the Israeli student as others surrounded him, using keffiyehs to block their own faces and the Israeli student's view. The protesters repeatedly shouted, "SHAME!" as the Jewish student said, "Don't grab me," and "Don't touch my neck."

Footage of the incident was first reported by the Free Beacon.