A New York County public lawyer who represents clients too poor to pay for their own defence has resigned from her position after being recorded tearing down posters of kidnapped Israelis.
Victoria Ruiz, a public defender, resigned with immediate effect after footage of the incident was shared widely on social media.
In the background of the video, an onlooker can be heard asking: “Why are you taking down pictures of missing children?”
Ms Ruiz appeared to ignore the questioning and continued ripping down the posters before walking away.
“Why are taking down pictures of babies?” the person watching the incident continued.
Ms Ruiz was identified shortly after the video was shared by StopAntisemitism on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Public defenders provide free legal assistance to criminal defenders in court who are in financial need.
They must be politically neutral to exercise their duties without prejudice.
New York County Defender Services, which employs Ms Ruiz, said that it “strongly condemned” her actions.
A spokeswoman for the law firm said: “It has come to our attention that one of our attorneys, Victoria Ruiz, recently attended a public vigil solely in her capacity as a private citizen.
“Some of her actions at the event have drawn sharp criticism and we strongly condemn them as highly insensitive.”
The spokeswoman added that Ms Ruiz had since apologised to “those who were hurt or confused by her actions”.
They said an internal review had taken place and pledged that “all involved” would 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.”
StopAntisemitism’s executive director, Liora Rez, told Fox News that she was “pleased to hear” about Ms Ruiz’s resignation. She shared concerns that Ms Ruiz would not be able to perform her duties “without prejudice”.
“By publicly displaying such biased behaviour, Ms Ruiz has shown that she may not be capable of fulfilling these duties effectively and without prejudice,” she said.
‘Wrong and hurtful’
On Tuesday, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, condemned people tearing down posters after seemingly failing to address the issue in her press briefing.
“Tearing down pictures of their loved ones – who are being held hostage by Hamas – is wrong and hurtful,” she wrote in a post on X.
Earlier, Ms Jean-Pierre had been pressed by reporters to offer a response to the actions. “I’m just not going to go into specifics on that particular thing,” she said, before changing the topic to violent protests.
“What I can say is there are real violent protests and threats that are happening right now. And senior administration officials are aware of these reports, which are deeply concerning,” she said.