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Rep. Rangel Causes Stir In Courtroom, Gets Reprimanded By Judge

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Congressman Charles Rangel caused a stir in court Friday while trying to lend his support for bail of Afrika Owes.

Owes, 17, had been a student at the prestigious Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. Prosecutors say she was also a member of a drug gang that terrorized 137th Street in Harlem.

Owes was one of fourteen suspected  "137th Street Crew" gang members arrested last month. Prosecutors said the gang used shootings, beatings and robberies to protect their turf and gain street status on a stretch of West 137th Street. The gang allegedly openly dealt crack in apartment lobbies, near Harlem Hospital and near the Abyssinian Baptist Church.

Congressman Charles Rangel argues for Owes getting bail to Juliet Papa of 1010 WINS


The judge refused to release Owes on her own recognizance, saying tapes from Rikers Island have her involved in running guns and getting orders to "shoot for the head."

The Abyssinian Baptist Church, which is located on 137th street, offered to post bond but the judge said it wasn't clear if that was legally allowed.

WCBS 880's Irene Cornell describes Rangel's courtroom behavior


WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reports Rangel caused a stir in the courtroom, repeatedly standing up and interrupting the judge.

A court officer told Rangel three different times to sit down. When he stood up again, Judge Edward McLaughlin had apparently had enough.

"I see someone standing who should not be standing, unless you have a bad back like I do," McLaughlin said. Rangel sat down.

Rangel says Owes was a straight-A student and should be given a chance to straighten herself out.

"All the discussions on the question of public policy boils down to a 17-year-old arrested student remaining in jail," Rangel said.

Owes is due back in court March 22.

What do you think of Rangel's courtroom behavior? Should Afrika Owes be granted bail? Sound off in our comments section.

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