On May 5, Occupy activist Cecily McMillan was convicted of assaulting an officer on March 17, 2012, in Zuccotti Park. She denied the assault charge and said she was acting instinctively by throwing an elbow when a police officer came behind her and grabbed her. She had bruises on her right breast and her elbows, which she displayed on Democracy Now! a few days after her arrest. And while in jail, she was not allowed to contact a lawyer for many, many hours, she told Amy Goodman.
McMillan is now on Rikers Island, awaiting sentencing on May 19. She faces up to seven years in prison.
“I was shocked by the jury’s verdict,” she wrote in a letter to her supporters. “An overreaching prosecutor plus a biased judge logically adds up to my being remanded to Rikers.”
Nine of the twelve jurors are urging the judge, Ronald Zweibel, not to throw her in prison.
“We the jury petition the court for leniency in the sentencing of Cecily McMillan,” they wrote, according to The Guardian. “We would ask the court to consider probation with community service. We feel that the felony mark on Cecily's record is punishment enough for this case and that it serves no purpose to Cecily or to society to incarcerate her for any amount of time.”
City council members in New York and Brooklyn are also urging leniency, as did protesters who gathered at city hall on Monday, holding signs that read: “Have Mercy.”
McMillan, an advocate of nonviolence, is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. That group issued a statement denouncing the verdict against her and demanding that she not be sentenced to prison.
It condemned “the biased behavior of Judge Ronald Zweibel, who refused to admit evidence that the officer in question had been charged with excessive use of force in other police matters. This irresponsible action, combined with the extraordinarily harsh charges brought against Cecily by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., reveals the extent to which government authorities desired to secure their first conviction against a peaceful Occupy protestor and justify the millions of dollars of public funds spent on this case and on policing Occupy. This was clearly a political trial.”
McMillan, by the way, credits the historic protests in Wisconsin for motivating her to go to Occupy Wall Street.
“To be in Wisconsin and see the strength and solidarity of people who would stand and fight together . . . that lit a fire under me,” she told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!
To find out more about McMillan’s case, go to http://justiceforcecily.com and on Twitter use #Leniency4Cecily.
Photo Credit: Democracy Now!