New York

New York AG Takes on Grand Theft Auto

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New York City—State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
appears to be gearing up for a look into the concerns of civil rights
groups over a popular video game instructing players to “kill the
Haitians.”

In Vice City: Grand Theft Auto, a member of an organized-crime group
advances in the underworld through commission of violent acts.
Originally developed by Rockstar Games, a wholly owned subsidiary of
Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.—both companies are based in New York
City—the game has sold over 11 million copies.

Vice City has met with controversy before. According to a report by
the Associated Press, lawsuits initially filed in Florida state courts
last month by Haitian interest groups were allowed to be moved to
federal court at the request of Rockstar’s attorneys. The groups now
plan to re-file in Florida’s state courts. The AP reported that Rockstar
representatives agreed to remove the offending language from future
versions of the game.

In a press conference outside of the attorney general’s Manhattan
office, the Hatians’ lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, told a group of
shivering reporters, “Vice City violates state civil rights statutes,
and that investigation will be conducted by the attorney general’s
office.” Rubenstein’s clients have waited over a month for a response
from Attorney General John Ashcroft’s civil rights division at the
Justice Department, but he said Mr. Spitzer’s office “immediately
responded to our request for a meeting, met with us today, and will be
conducting an investigation.”

Darren Dopp, spokesperson for Mr. Spitzer, declined to characterize the
inquiry as an investigation, but said, “We are looking into it at
Sanford Rubenstein’s request, particularly since the description was a
source of concern.”

Mr. Spitzer, who is widely considered to be positioning himself for a
gubernatorial campaign, has taken on several high-profile issues in
recent years. He has pursued Wall Street investment firms for alleged
conflicts of interest and unfair trading practices, and commissioned the
famous “Stop and Frisk” reports used to document racial profiling that
occurred under former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

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