Free Cecily!

On Monday, May 5, Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan was found guilty of assaulting NYPD Officer Grantley Bovell at the OWS anniversary protest on March 17, 2012. She now faces two to seven years in prison, with the possibility of probation. To tell McMillan's story and assess its consequences, a group of editors revived the Occupy! gazette in anticipation of her May 19 sentencing. Our hope is to enter into evidence what the court ignored.

A gazette revival

The Free Cecily! Gazette

On Monday, May 5, Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan was found guilty of assaulting NYPD Officer Grantley Bovell at the OWS anniversary protest on March 17, 2012. She now faces two to seven years in prison, with the possibility of probation.

The conviction was a terrible failure of justice. Abundant evidence of McMillan’s abuse at the hands of police—photos of bruises on her breast and arms, testimony that she suffered a seizure once handcuffed—was questioned in the spirit of what we’ve come to call rape culture: maybe, the prosecutor suggested, she faked it. Maybe she inflicted the bruises herself. Reports of NYPD misconduct during the Occupy protests were deemed inadmissible as evidence in court, as were the more violent parts of Officer Bovell’s record. In the absence of substantive background, the jurors came to their verdict based on a grainy video.

Upon hearing the terms of sentencing—which were, somehow, unknown to members of the jury—Charles Woodward (Juror #2) wrote a letter on behalf of nine of the twelve jurors asking Judge Zweibel for leniency in sentencing. They expressed remorse. One anonymous juror told Jon Swaine of the Guardian, “‘Most just wanted her to do probation, maybe some community service. But now what I’m hearing is seven years in jail? That’s ludicrous. Even a year in jail is ridiculous.'”

To tell McMillan’s story and assess its consequences, a group of editors revived the Occupy! gazette in anticipation of her May 19 sentencing. Our hope is to enter into evidence what the court ignored. Any meaningful conversation about McMillan must address the nationwide trend of suppressing protest, the NYPD’s ongoing assault on communities of color, the justice system’s failure to investigate wrongdoing by the police, and the disturbing tendency of well-meaning people to disbelieve women’s testimony in cases of sexual assault. As Sarah Jaffe wrote in In These Times, excerpted in this gazette, “Cecily McMillan’s case can’t just be about her,” and it isn’t.

—the gazette editors

Download the PDF here

Hard copies available for distribution in the New York area. More information can be found at justiceforcecily.com.

If you like this article, please subscribe to n+1.

Related Articles

Issue 33 Overtime
The Korean Peace Process
Issue 29 Bottoms Up

Humankind cannot bear very much reality, but it can bear a lot of reality TV.

July 15, 2015
Concerning Absolute Violence
April 30, 2017

Documentary screening and conversation with Laura Kaplan

More by this Author

Issue 6 Mainstream

The new “how to read” books convey a sense that schools are no longer teaching people that skill.

April 6, 2010
Toward an Index of the 9/11 Commission Report
Issue 22 Conviction

It seems not to matter to the proliferation of writing about millennials that so much of it has been internally contradictory.

Issue 29 Bottoms Up

What happens within the precincts of the bourgeois academy stays there.