Late Wednesday, the body of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam was found in the Hudson River near Manhattan. Abdus-Salaam was the first Muslim woman to serve on the bench and the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state Court of Appeals.
Abdus-Salaam was first reported missing from her home in Harlem before her body was found. Her husband later identified the body, which law enforcement officials say showed no clear signs of trauma or injuries. But although the 65-year-old’s death is being treated as a suicide, detectives did not find a suicide note.
“Obviously we’re still waiting for the full investigation,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Thursday, “but to the extent that the challenges and the stresses in her life contributed to this, it’s a reminder that even the most accomplished people still deal with extraordinary challenges inward, and we don’t get to see that.” Cuomo, who appointed Abdus-Salaam to the court, wrote on Twitter this week that she was a “trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all.”
Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, however, took to Twitter to claim that the New York judge was a victim of a “racist Islamophobic misogynistic murder” and demanded that Abdus-Salaam’s death be investigated as a hate crime.
Meliss Arteaga is an editorial intern at Ms. She studied at California State University Northridge and has a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minor in gender and women studies.