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Human Rights

Source: NYCDS still investigating public defender who tore down Israeli hostage posters

The revelation adds a new twist to Oct. 6 reports that suggested the New York County Defender Service already made a final determination to retain Ruiz. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the matter remains under review.

Victoria Ruiz, a public defender with the New York County Defender Service, caught on camera ripping posters depicting Israeli kidnapped by Hamas | Screen capture & Shutterstock
Victoria Ruiz, a public defender with the New York County Defender Service, caught on camera ripping posters depicting Israeli kidnapped by Hamas | Screen capture & Shutterstock | Screen Capture

November 7, 2023 8:53am

Updated: November 8, 2023 9:59am

A New York County assistant public defender who was captured in a viral video tearing down posters, purportedly of hostages missing in the Israel-Hamas war may still face consequences, according to a government agency source who spoke to ADN America.

The NYC trial attorney, Victoria Marie Ruiz, apologized for her actions in a Sunday email she sent to her colleagues, but is currently not in the office as the agency’s investigation remains “ongoing,” the source said.

“We accepted her apology, but this happened over the weekend and this [Monday] is the first business day, but we never said she was [or was not] keeping her job,” the source told ADN, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “She’s not in the office, I can tell you that.”

The information obtained by ADN offers clarification on an earlier statement released by the New York County Defender Service (NYCDS) that said, “after an internal review, and a pledge by all involved to do better, we accept this apology and now refocus on the vigorous pursuit of our mission: achieving justice and dignity for every individual we represent.”

It also adds a new twist to an Oct. 6 report published by The New York Post, suggesting the Public Defender made a final determination to retain Ruiz in the wake of her apology.


The video in question, which was taken last week, depicts Ruiz purportedly ripping down one of the many posters of hostages in Manhattan since Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

Ruiz then dismisses the individual filming who repeatedly asks, “Why are you taking down pictures of missing children?” Her silence only fuels the videographer's exasperation, leading them to question, "Why are you taking down pictures of babies?"

The New York lawyer was later identified in the video by nonprofit watchdog StopAntisemitism. In her email to colleagues, Ruiz offers a vague explanation, only saying she was taking down posters with “egregious depictions and words justifying killing children.”

ADN's source said one of the issues the office is trying to discern is the facts of what actually happened at the vigil.

“She has told us one thing, we did not write her statement, that was her statement that she wrote … she’s saying one thing and we were not there. it’s a very fluid situation,” the source said.

ADN emailed StopAntisemitism to ask for additional details about their claims and Ruiz’s version of the events, but has not yet received a response.

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, “KIDNAPPED” posters created by Israeli street artists Nitzan Mintz and Dede Bandaid have appeared in many public places across the U.S. and abroad, but there have been several incidents in which anti-Israel demonstrators have torn them down.

The posters do not take a position on how Israel should respond to the terror attacks and focus solely on the facts of the kidnappings and murders that took place on Oct. 7.

Hamas is currently holding 242 individuals as captives, with an estimated 30 hostages who are children. The estimated total number of Israelis reportedly killed more than 1400 Israelis to date.

Ruiz quickly became embroiled in controversy online after the video spread like wildfire on X, sparking a torrent of online outrage that led to a campaign on demanding for the attorney’s resignation.

“Victoria Ruiz, a member of the NY County Defenders Office, was recently caught on video tearing down posters of hostages kidnapped by the terrorist group Hamas. This act is not only disrespectful to those suffering but also raises serious questions about her ability to provide unbiased legal services.

“The role of a defender requires impartiality and respect for all individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances. By publicly displaying such biased behavior, Ms. Ruiz has shown that she may not be capable of fulfilling these duties effectively and without prejudice,” the online petition says.

The online community has not held back on their criticism towards Ruiz, with one user questioning her ability to fulfill her role, saying, "Some of those posters feature American children allegedly taken by Hamas. If she cannot advocate for American children, how can she be expected to defend the public?"

Another user called for a comprehensive review of her legal work, claiming:

"Victoria Ruiz's actions suggest she may harbor bias, which could impact her professional integrity and judgment. This could call into question the quality of defense provided to her clients."

Another user described her behavior as juvenile and unbecoming of her professional position.

When ADN asked NYCDS about whether the agency had any concerns about Ruiz zealously representing Jewish or Israeli-American defendant, the agency said it was still gathering information.

Under the New York State Bar rule 8.4(g), which models the same American Bar Association rule, “It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to … engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.”

ADN sent an inquiry to Jorge Dopico, Executive Director the New York Bar First Department Grievance Committee to ask if the judicial regulatory agency would be opening an inquiry into the matter, but did not yet received a response as of the time of this publication.

One administrative officer at the First Department told ADN the Committee has a general policy of not commenting on open matters before they are closed, and that findings are only released in written form to the general public.

So far there is no indication the matter has been reported or is under review.

Ruiz graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law and was admitted to practice law in New York on Aug. 6, 2022. Ruiz’s email in full says the following:

“Dear colleagues, I apologize to anyone who was hurt or confused by my actions at a vigil last week that were depicted in a video that went viral over the weekend.

 This viral video misrepresented my actions and has led to false accusations. I regret taking down two posters that had egregious depictions and words justifying killing children.

I never intended to harm New York County Defender Services, my colleagues, or the clients we represent. You all know my deep commitment to the work that we do and the communities we support.

Please know that by no means am I trying to erase the very real and tragic fact that innocent people on all sides of this conflict are suffering.

Thanks for understanding,

Victoria Ruiz

Executive Editor

Gelet Martínez Fragela

Gelet Martínez Fragela is the founder and editor-in-chief of ADN America. She is a Cuban journalist, television producer, and political refugee who also founded ADN Cuba.