Occupy Protester Convicted of Assaulting Police Officer
Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan has been convicted by a jury in New York of assaulting a police officer and faces up to seven years in prison. McMillan's trial stems from an incident in early 2012 when protesters had gathered in Zuccotti Park to celebrate the 6-month anniversary of the Occupy movement.
After the guilty verdict was reached the judge ordered McMillan remanded while awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled for May 19th. The Guardian reports the decision was met with shouts of "shame" from McMillan's supporters inside the courtroom.
McMillan was convicted of striking police Officer Grantley Bovell in the face with her elbow on March 17, 2012. That date was the 6-month anniversary of the start of the Occupy protests. The protests had ended in mid-November when police cleared out Zuccotti Park. Some protesters returned to Zuccotti Park in March with the intention of re-occupying it.
McMillan claimed she was not there protesting that day but only to meet up with friends before going out to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. But when police began clearing the park she became engaged in resisting their efforts. When Officer Bovell asked her to leave she complied initially. As he followed her out, McMillan crouched down then lunged backwards with her elbow catching Bovell in the face. McMillan's attorney claimed she was responding to being groped and that she did not know the person behind her was a police officer.
After she was arrested, McMillan claimed to have had a seizure on the sidewalk. The seizure incident made international news when it occurred. A few days later, McMillan appeared on the show Democracy Now to show her bruises, allegedly caused by police. The Guardian reports that during the trial prosecutors pointed out that two different hospitals examined McMillan the night of the incident and neither one had noticed any bruises. They suggested McMillan had caused the bruises herself.
The jury deliberated for three hours before finding McMillan guilty. The Guardian reports she had earlier turned down a plea deal which would have found her guilty of a felony in exchange for which the prosecutors would have recommended she not serve any jail time.
After the verdict a group of supporters read a statement which said in part:
Despite the chilling precedent this verdict puts forth for activists, we will not be deterred from seeking social and economic justice, as evidenced in the courtroom today. Though we’ve held our tongues throughout this trial as Cecily was personally attacked and degraded, we could not stand silent today in the face of such a gross miscarriage of justice. The people had to speak truth to power today by standing up and will continue to do so as long as this justice system continues to punish the 99% and protect the 1%.