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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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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D.A. Won't Prosecute the Cops Who Pepper-Sprayed and Sucker-Punched Protesters

Anthony Bologna won't face any charges for pepper-spraying kettled protesters.
Late on a Friday afternoon is widely agreed to be the best time for sheepish newsmakers to announce the things they really really hope the media doesn't report on too much. Last Friday afternoon, coming at the end of the most exhausting and depressing news-week in recent memory, was a full-moon-high-tide-converging-low-pressure-systems super-storm of Friday news-dump oblivion.

In short, it was a great time for the Manhattan District Attorney's office to announce that it won't be bringing any charges at all against Anthony Bologna, the NYPD commander caught on video gratuitously pepper-spraying a bunch of helpless, immobilized, unarmed and nonviolent women in September of 2011.

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City Settles Lawsuit Over the Destruction of the Occupy Wall Street Library

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Some the library books ruined in the November 2011 police raid on Zuccotti Park.
In an agreement announced today, the City of New York will pay more than $365,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by people whose property was destroyed when the New York Police Department raided Zuccotti Park and evicted Occupy Wall Street on Nov. 15, 2011.

Occupy Wall Street had brought the suit against the city over the destruction of the People's Library, a collection of about 5,500 donated books that formed a central part of the community that sprang up for two months in the park. In the eviction, many of the books were completely destroyed, and others were so badly damaged as to be unusable. Occupy Wall Street claimed $47,000 in damages, all of which the city agreed to pay today.

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