Cecily McMillan, Fresh out of Rikers Island: "The 99% Is Stronger Than Ever"

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Photo by Anna Merlan
McMillan reads her statement in front of the Rikers entrance.
At 5 o'clock this morning, graduate student and Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan was awakened by a guard in her bunk at Rikers, where she's spent a little more than two months after being convicted of assault on a police officer. McMillan had expected to be released today, but she anticipated going through the usual procedure: visiting the social services office around 7:30 a.m. with a group of other women also being let out that day, receiving her property back, and meeting her friends at the gates of the jail.

Instead, McMillan says she was taken to an unmarked van by a cadre of police officers.

"I don't want to go with you," she later told her friend Lucy Parks she said to them. "You're not telling me where you're taking me." She feared she was being set up.

Eventually, an officer told her she was being released. She was taken to the Queensboro Plaza, where she says she was "dumped" unceremoniously, her arms full of her property. She had no keys, money, or phone. The officers left her with a Metro Card and drove away.

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Occupy Protester Cecily McMillan on Rikers: "In Some Ways, I'm Treated Better Than Anyone Else In Here, Which is Horrifying"

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Photo by Anna Merlan
McMillan with her lead attorney, Martin Stolar, during her trial.
After serving a little less than two months in jail, Occupy Wall Street protester and graduate student Cecily McMillan will be released from Rikers Island on Wednesday, July 2. As you might recall, the 25-year-old was found guilty in May of assaulting a police officer during a 2012 protest. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years probation, with time off for the good behavior and time served. It seems safe to say that both McMillan and the city's Department of Correction will be happy to see her off the island, where, true to form, she's been protesting and organizing almost since the moment she arrived.

Rikers has been in an uproar lately, after two officers and 20 inmates were arrested as part of a corruption sweep. But none of them were in the Rose M. Singer Center, the jail unit where women are kept. McMillan and her fellow inmates didn't know about the arrests until relatively recently. The regular paper for the inmates is the Daily News; when they ran a cover story about the arrests last week, the paper arrived with the front cover torn off.

In a recent phone call, McMillan said her time at Rikers has been curious, a mix of special treatment that no other inmates receive and weird restrictions that seem tailor-made just for her.

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OWS Activist Cecily McMillan Gets 90 Days and Probation for Assaulting Cop

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Photo by Zach D. Roberts
McMillan's attorney Martin Stolar addresses her supporters after the sentencing Monday.
Two weeks after a jury found her guilty of assaulting a police officer during a March 2012 Occupy Wall Street demonstration, Judge Ronald Zweibel has sentenced Cecily McMillan to 90 days in jail with time served and time off for good behavior, plus five years probation. She'll finish out her sentence at Rikers, where she's been housed since being convicted on Monday, May 5. She's also required to undergo unspecified mental health evaluation and treatment.

The sentence was essentially exactly what the prosecution requested today, minus 5-- hours of community service and a $5,000 fine they had also asked that McMillan be required to pay. Assistant District Attorney Erin Choi, the lead prosecutor on the case, is out on maternity leave. Taking her place, ADA Shanda Strain told the judge that not only had McMillan "intentionally assaulted" Officer Grantley Bovell, but "she falsely assaulted his character both inside and outside this courtroom."

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At Rikers Island Awaiting Sentencing, Cecily McMillan Says, "I've Never Felt So Loved Before"

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Photo by Zach Roberts
Cecily McMillan, the night of her arrest.
"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.

"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.

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Nine of 12 Jurors Who Convicted Occupy Protestor Cecily McMillian Ask Judge to Go Easy on Her

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Photo by C.S. Muncy
McMillan's supporters hold up signs in her honor at Liberty Plaza after her conviction.
On Monday, Occupy Wall Street protester and New School graduate student Cecily McMillan was convicted of assaulting police officer Grantley Bovell during a demonstration on March 17, 2012, a felony that carries a maximum of seven years in prison. There's been widespread shock and outrage over that verdict, and the lengthy prison time McMillan could do, particularly in light of the fact that she maintains that the incident began when Bovell grabbed her breast from behind, causing her to involuntarily elbow him in the face.

Apparently, the jury in the McMillan case is just as shocked as everyone else. In a letter dated May 6, nine of them wrote to Judge Ronald Zweibel, the judge who heard the case and will sentence McMillan on May 19, asking him to be lenient. The letter reads, in part: "It serves no purpose to Cecily or to society to incarcerate her for any amount of time."

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Cecily McMillan Supporters Rally and Grieve Following Guilty Verdict

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Photo by C.S. Muncy
McMillan's supporters held up signs in her honor at Liberty Plaza last night.
Yesterday, a jury found graduate student and Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan guilty of assault on a police officer. As we wrote, the scene in the courthouse at 100 Centre Street quickly grew chaotic, with her supporters shouting about the injustice of the verdict and court security officers with plastic handcuffs shouting back.

Last night, McMillan's supporters gathered for a quieter rally at Liberty Plaza, formerly known as Zuccotti Park, once the scene of the OWS encampment.

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Occupy Wall Street Activist Cecily McMillan Found Guilty of Assault on Police Officer

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McMillan talks with one of her lawyers, Martin Stolar.

Update, 3:08 p.m.:
A jury has found Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan guilty of assault on a police officer. Her sentencing will be May 19. She was remanded into custody, pending sentencing. Judge Ronald Zweibel refused to let her stay free on bail. A full update can be found on page three.

The Voice's Anna Merlan posted this photo of the police presence:

Original story below.

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

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Image via Facebook
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.

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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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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Brown University Committee Releases Report on Ray Kelly Heckling Incident

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Screenshot via Brown Daily Herald
Students protest before Kelly's lecture-attempt.
It's been a full four months since then-Police Commissioner Ray Kelly headed to Brown University to deliver a lecture on "proactive policing," and instead was driven from the stage by student hecklers displeased with his policies on stop-and-frisk. Kelly has since moved on, working as a "distinguished visiting fellow" at the Council on Foreign Relations and, soon, as a special adviser to Governor Andrew Cuomo's planned new school on homeland security and emergency preparedness.

But Brown University, in the grand liberal arts tradition of discussing every single thing to death and beyond, is still parsing the meaning of the Ray Kelly Heckling Incident, even appointing a ten-person committee to explore what happened that afternoon. Last week, the committee released the first half of a two-part report, which outlines everything that happened from the moment the lecture was announced to the time Kelly touched down in his NYPD-funded helicopter to speak.

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