"My lawyer has told me to expect two years," Cecily McMillan said yesterday from the visitation room at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island, where women in New York awaiting trial or sentencing are held. The 25-year-old wore an extra-large grey jumpsuit that dwarfed her frame, prison-issued sandals and horn-rim glasses. She looked exhausted but sounded steady, if not exactly thrilled about the prospect of going to prison.
|Photo by Zach Roberts |
|Cecily McMillan, the night of her arrest. |
"Two years is nothing compared to what other people in here deal with," she added.
On May 5, McMillan, a 25-year-old graduate student and Occupy Wall Street activist was found guilty of assaulting a police officer during a March 17, 2012 demonstration at Zuccotti Park. She'll be sentenced May 19, when she faces anywhere from probation to seven years in prison.
McMillan maintains that she only elbowed officer Grantley Bovell after he grabbed her breast from behind; photographs of her injuries have been widely disseminated, including a handprint-shaped bruise on her breast. Her case has quickly become a cause celebre, with Russian activists Pussy Riot visiting her at Rikers and nine of the twelve jurors in her case writing to the judge for leniency. Her supporters have also written hundreds of letters to Judge Ronald Zweibel on her behalf. They plan to deliver 500 of them tomorrow, and another 500 or so on Monday. An online petition asking Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo to intervene on her behalf has garnered more than 43,000 signatures.
McMillan, meanwhile, is wary that she'll be perceived as a media hog or someone gunning for political martyrdom. "I am not happy to be here," she said plainly. More »