(CBS/AP) TRENTON, N.J. - Several hundred protesters rallied Monday at the New Jersey State House on behalf of former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, who was convicted of bias intimidation for using a webcam to spy on his roommate kissing another man. The group also gathered to call attention to what they see as injustices in New Jersey's hate-crime laws.
Ravi, 20, was convicted in March of 15 criminal counts, including four charges of bias intimidation, for using his webcam to view a brief live clip of his roommate Tyler Clementi kissing another man in September 2010. Clementi committed suicide just days after the online peeping and quickly became a symbol of plight of gay youth in America.
Supporters saw Ravi as a symbol too, of the justice system gone awry in search of someone to blame. Ravi could serve 10 years in prison when he's sentenced on May 21. He also could face deportation to India where he was born and remains as a citizen.
His mother, Sabitha, made an appearance at the rally and said her son does not deserve jail time because he did not receive a fair trial.
Ravi's lawyers asked a judge to overturn his conviction, a request that was denied. Then they said he should not serve any jail time. In court papers, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's office said that Ravi deserves jail time, although not the 10-year maximum sentence he faces.
The protesters held signs and chanted slogans such as "No jail time," and "Drop all charges." Most were Indian-American, like Ravi himself, The Associated Press reported.
"If this kid ends up in jail on Monday my faith will be shaken in this country," Sandeep Sharma, one of the organizers of the rally, told the AP.