US: Dharun Ravi supporters hold protest rally

Hundreds of Dharun Ravi supporters rallied to protest against state`s bias intimidation law used to convict the Indian American student.

Trenton: Hundreds of Dharun Ravi supporters rallied outside the New Jersey State House to protest against state`s bias intimidation law used to convict the Indian American student for spying on his gay roommate with a webcam.

The group of about 500 people, mostly Indian Americans, chanted "No jail time for Dharun Ravi", "Free Dharun Ravi" and "We Want Justice" on the Statehouse steps in Trenton, New Jersey for two hours at the rally Monday, which was attended by Ravi`s parents, reported.

They also held signs including one that said, "Witch hunt??" and another that quoted a headline from a newspaper opinion piece by former Governor James McGreevey - "Don`t make Dharun Ravi our Anti-Gay Scapegoat."

"If this kid ends up in jail on Monday, my faith will be shaken in this country," said Sandeep Sharma, a family friend and business associate of Ravi`s father who helped organize the rally.

Ravi, 20, is scheduled to be sentenced May 21 in state Superior Court in New Brunswick on the 15 charges he was convicted of in March.

Ravi`s lawyers have asked a judge to overturn his conviction. Failing that, they say he should not serve any jail time. In court papers, the Middlesex County Prosecutor`s office has said that Ravi deserves jail time - though not the 10-year maximum sentence he faces.

Ravi`s roommate at Rutgers New Jersey State University, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide in September 2010, several days after Ravi set up his webcam and watched live-streamed images of Clementi kissing another man.

On Monday, Sharma and others met with legislative aides and lawmakers from 10 offices to discuss the bias intimidation statute.
Sharma said that while he didn`t believe the meetings would help in terms of Ravi`s upcoming sentencing, it could change provisions of the bias law.

Ravi`s mother Sabitha briefly spoke, thanking the crowd for its support and begging the media who had attended the trial and "knew he didn`t get a fair trial" to "please wake up and then write something ... and bring some justice for Dharun."


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