Article Reveals Whistleblower Attorney’s Longstanding Passion to Fight Corruption
Stephen M. Kohn is currently a leading expert in the area of whistleblower law. He has an extensive track record of successful whistleblower litigation which established several legal precedents expanding the rights of whistleblowers. However, his days of advocating for the oppressed began well before he was a practicing attorney.
Recently, a Rhode Island-based student newspaper, The College Hill Independent, wrote a story on Kohn’s early days of lawyer-like advocacy as a 23-year-old master’s student at Brown University.
While studying at Brown in 1980, Kohn worked at the Providence Human Relations Commission, an independent public agency that promoted civil rights in the city. Kohn worked on the issue of police corruption in Providence.
At the time, Providence suffered from rampant police violence and abuse that was so bad most of the time, officers weren’t punished for participating in beating suspects or racial harassment. In his role with the Commission, Kohn attended internal police hearings where he was able to ask questions on behalf of citizens who had filed complaints against police officers.
Shortly after his days with the Providence Human Relations Commission, Kohn cofounded the Rake, a radical muckraking student publication, alongside Mark Toney and Cheryl Jacobs. This publication continued to report on corruption within the Providence Police Department, eventually uncovering hundreds of civilian complaints against Providence police officers. These records, the article reveals, became the basis for anonymized, first-person accounts of police abuse published in the Rake by Kohn and the others. These accounts highlighted the police corruption and became the foundation for the movement for just and nonviolent public institutions in Rhode Island.
The article paints a clear picture that Kohn has never shied away from fighting corruption. From working to clean up police corruption in the early 1980s to blazing a trail to protect whistleblowers, he has an impressive history and passion for giving a voice to individuals who to take a stand against corruption.
MUCKRAKERS - Forty years ago, student journalists uncovered records of police brutality in Providence