As Trial Winds Down, Prosecutors Press OWS Activist Cecily McMillan On Unrelated Misdemeanor Arrest

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Cecily McMillan
After three weeks, the trial of Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan is nearly over, with McMillan herself taking the stand yesterday, April 29. Her testimony touched briefly on her educational background and her activism. On Wednesday, she's expected to discuss her version of what happened on March 17, 2012, when she's accused of assaulting a police officer, Grantley Bovell, during a demonstration at Zuccotti Park.

See also: Cecily McMillan Faces Prison Time. Where's the Justice in That?

As the trial continues, two different versions of McMillan have emerged. Defense testimony depicts McMillan as a gentle, intelligent, non-violent activist who believed in working with the police and the government to make change. They say she elbowed Bovell after he grabbed her breast from behind, and that she didn't realize it was a police officer doing the grabbing. During the incident, they say, McMillan was thrown to the ground and beaten by Bovell and other officers, triggering a seizure. When a friend visited her in the hospital while she was in custody, she told him she feared her ribs were broken.

The prosecution, meanwhile, maintains that the 25-year-old McMillan is a committed cop-hater who makes a habit of fighting with the police, and that she faked her seizure in an attempt to get out of trouble. They've been trying hard to find a way to mention a second pending case against her, a misdemeanor in which she's charged with interfering with the arrest of a man and a woman who were being cited for fare evasion in the Union Square subway station. Yesterday, they succeeded.

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City Will Pay $55,000 To Settle Case of Occupy Livestreamer Josh Boss, Tackled By High-Ranking NYPD Chief

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A video still of Boss's arrest
Occupy Wall Street is still proving expensive for the city of New York, who keep having pay out large sums of money to Occupy protesters who were over-enthusiastically arrested by the NYPD. In April 2013, the city paid $365,000 to settle claims over the destruction of the OWS library, and civil rights attorney Wylie Stecklow of Stecklow Cohen & Thompson says he's settled six or seven other Occupiers' claims for unlawful arrests. The latest came just yesterday, when the city agreed to pay $55,000 in the case of Josh Boss, who was livestreaming a December 2011 march when he was thrown to the ground and kneed by Chief Thomas Purtell, then the commanding officer of the Manhattan South Patrol Division, which oversees all marches and protests in the city.

"Purtell is the most senior officer we've ever seen in a physical unlawful arrest," Stecklow tells the Voice. "He got hands on."

Boss was filming the march on the evening of December 17, 2011. As the marchers crossed the street, so did he, camera in hand. Footage of the incident shows that he was in a crosswalk when Purtell came running at him, flung him to the ground, and put his knee on Boss's chest. "Kick his ass, Tom!" another officer can be heard saying in the background.

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As Occupy Protester Cecily McMillan's Trial Continues, Judge Orders Both Sides To Quit Talking to Press

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McMillan and Stolar during a press conference on Monday, April 14. The judge imposed a gag order on both sides on April 16.
The trial of Cecily McMillan, the Occupy Wall Street activist accused of assaulting a police officer during a demonstration two years ago, is expected to drag on for an estimated three weeks. Judge Ronald Zweibel has been visibly irritated for much of the trial, displeased by McMillan's supporters wearing pink paper hands and hearts in the courtroom, and seemingly by the heavy media attention paid to the case. Before testimony continued yesterday, inflamed by a quote by one of McMillan's defense attorneys in the New York Times, he imposed a gag order on both sides.

Officer Grantley Bovell, the NYPD officer accusing McMillan of assault, began his testimony on Monday morning, telling Assistant District Attorney Erin Choi that McMillan deliberately elbowed him in the eye as he tried to lead her from the park. During a brief press conference after court that day, Stolar told reporters that Bovell's testimony wasn't consistent with McMillan's memories of the day, or a video of the incident posted on YouTube.

In truth, the chaotic video doesn't do any favors to either side: McMillan can blurrily be seen elbowing Bovell, an incident her attorneys do not deny took place. But it's impossible to tell whether or not Bovell grabbed her breast, which McMillan says is what preceded the elbowing.

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NYPD Testifies In Trial of Cecily McMillan, Occupy Wall Street Protester Accused of Assaulting Cop

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McMillan talks with one of her lawyers, Martin Stolar, after court Monday
On Friday, the trial of Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan began, more than two years after she's accused of assaulting NYPD officer Grantley Bovell during a March 17, 2012 demonstration at Zuccotti Park. Jury selection took the better part of a week, as both sides had difficulty finding jurors who didn't have opinions about the Occupy movement. Testimony began late Friday; this morning, court was almost immediately interrupted when supporters of McMillan entered the courtroom wearing pink paper hearts on their lapels. After the hearts were confiscated by court security, Officer Bovell finally took the stand for the first part of his testimony, telling the jury that McMillan deliberately elbowed him in the face as he was trying to escort her from the park.

McMillan and her attorneys, Martin Stolar and Rebecca Heinegg, don't disagree that she elbowed Bovell, but say she was doing so instinctively, in self-defense, not knowing he was a police officer. During opening statements, Heinegg told the jury of of 10 women and five men that McMillan, now 25, is known by other activists "for her commitment to non-violence." The incident occurred, Heinegg said, as McMillan was stopping by Zucotti Park during a night out celebrating St. Patrick's Day with out-of-town friends. She only elbowed Bovell after he suddenly grabbed her from behind by her right breast and yanked her backwards, "leaving the shape of a handprint" on her body.

"Reacting to being grabbed by a stranger is not a crime," Heinegg told the jury.

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In Occupy Activist Cecily McMillan's Trial, Judge Rules NYPD Doesn't Have to Hand Over Officer's Disciplinary File

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Image via Facebook
In two weeks, the last trial of an Occupy Wall Street activist will begin, when 25-year-old Cecily McMillan faces charges that she assaulted a police officer, Grantley Bovell, on March 17, 2012, during a 6-month anniversary demonstration at Zuccotti Park. In a decision issued yesterday, State Supreme Court Judge Ronald A. Zweibel decided that the information contained in Bovell's internal disciplinary file isn't relevant to the case and that the defense can't see any part of it. But McMillan's lawyer argues that this officer has assaulted and falsely arrested people before, and that the file can help them prove it.

McMillan's lawyer and her supporters say Officer Bovell was the one who assaulted her, grabbing her by the breast from behind and dragging her backwards. When she threw up her arms in an instinctive defensive gesture, they say, she hit the officer's temple. In response, Bovell and other officers beat her severely, causing her to suffer a series of seizures. (A few days later, a shaken-looking McMillan appeared on Democracy Now to describe the incident.) But the NYPD argues in their court filings that McMillan deliberately elbowed Bovell in the face while he was arresting someone else. McMillan was charged with assault on an officer, a felony that carries a maximum of seven years in prison.

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Occupy Wall Street Photographer "Had No Idea" His Image Was For Sale at Walmart

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Are you a feisty anti-corporate activist looking for that one piece of art that really captures you? Walmart has just the thing.

The massive retailer is now selling a panoramic print, "Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park, Lower Manhattan, Manhattan, New York," described as "a licensed reproduction that was printed on Premium Heavy Stock Paper which captures all of the vivid colors and details of the original."

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What In the World Happened to the Hipster Cop? Let's Take a Vote.

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Detective Rick Lee with a member of his adoring public (actually a press photographer)
Earlier this week, we went down to Occupy Wall Street's second anniversary, where things were a little quiet. Sure, there were a couple of arrests, some shouting, some ludicrous attempts by the cops to make protesters stand on some "First Amendment steps," identical to another set of steps three feet away, but it was nothing like last year, and certainly nothing like the chaos at the height of the occupation. And then there's the Hipster Cop. What's going on with that guy? We talked to him, and the man seems... different, somehow.

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"The First Amendment Steps Are Over There:" With a Heavy Police Presence, Occupy's Second Birthday Begins

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Photos by Steve Merlan
Occupy Wall Street's terrible twos began this morning with a familiar set of scenes: protesters holding signs. Protesters glaring at cops. Cops glaring at protesters. Dozens of metal barricades lining the streets between them. Everyone pausing to look in unison at the Hipster Cop and his improbably tight pants. After a rowdy first anniversary last year that began on the wrong foot with some two dozen arrests, this morning's march looked downright serene by comparison. The only real moment of tension came on the steps of Wall Street's National Federal Hall Memorial, when the police and park rangers decided together, in a seemingly impromptu sort of way, that only one side of the monument's broad stone steps could be used for free speech purposes.

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Where Are They Now, Occupy Wall Street Edition: Colbert Report's Justin and Ketchup

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Comedy Central/The Colbert Report
Two years ago, an isolated demonstration in Zuccotti Park was swiftly mutating into a national movement, and Stephen Colbert wanted in on the action. The Comedy Central host headed on down to the Occupy Wall Street protest where he encountered "two young idealists"--Justin and Ketchup.

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Five Events Commemorating Occupy Wall Street Across New York

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Photo Credit: david_shankbone via Compfight cc
It's been two years since Zuccotti Park was briefly the center of the Universe. Occupy Wall Street has since become a massive worldwide struggle against the abuses of finance capitalism and the lack of accountability of governments to their people.To celebrate the anniversary of a squatters' camp that turned into a global movement, rallies, marches, and movie screenings will be held all over the city. Here are five events happening today across New York that celebrate the events of September 17, 2011, and reflect on what's changed since.

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