NEW YORK — As prospective jurors filed into the 15th floor of the New York State Supreme Court building for Harvey Weinstein's rape trial Friday, jury selection was interrupted by loud chants from outside the building.
Approximately 100 women dressed in black danced and sang the Chilean anti-rape protest anthem "Un Violador en Tu Camino" — “The Rapist in Your Path" — outside the Manhattan courthouse.
Pointing at the courthouse and the police officers surrounding it, the women sang in Spanish. Translated to English, the lyrics include: “The rapist is you / The cops, the judges, the state, the president / ... And the fault wasn’t mine / Not where I was, not how I dressed / You are the rapist.”
In an email exchange with BuzzFeed News, one of the protesters said that the crowd members were from New York’s Resistance Revival Chorus and other feminist groups, including Equality Now.
“There were women of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds,” said Kate Kelly, a human rights attorney at Equality Now, who wore a green scarf with her black outfit to express solidarity with Argentine feminists. “I was between a young mother carrying a tiny baby in a wrap and an older woman with white hair.”
She added that “pointing the finger of blame for sexual assault at the appropriate target ... was a cathartic experience, to feel our collective feminist power as a force for good.”
Since it was first written by Rita Segato, an Argentine Brazilian academic, the anthem and its accompanying dance have been performed across Mexico, Colombia, France, Spain, Germany, and Istanbul, where seven women were detained by the police for their participation.
After the protest ended, Weinstein’s lawyers made another request to the judge to dismiss the potential jurors who were in the room when the chanting began, claiming the demonstration would unfairly bias the pool.
“I saw some of the jurors acknowledge the chanting,” Weinstein’s lawyer Damon Cheronis said. “And I saw a tweet from [New York Times reporter] Jodi Kantor about the protesters. We have a situation in which, while we are trying to pick an impartial jury, there is a flash mob outside the court singing 'the rapist is you' and chanting for justice — that is, for the conviction of my client.”
Judge James Burke said he had heard the chants as well and “listened carefully” to determine whether they were related to the trial.
“Given the musicality of the protest, I did not, in this case, know what the protest was about — and neither did you until you checked your phones,” he said.
The judge noted that this would not be the last protest outside during this particular trial — and “they would not all be musical.”
“But jurors in Manhattan will listen only to the testimonies and evidence before them,” he said, denying Cheronis’s request.
Demonstrators outside the courthouse sang “Un Violador en Tu Camino.” The anthem’s name was misstated in an earlier version of this post.