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

August 21, 2004

Maybe the waywardness and chutzpah McGreevey showed vis-à-vis his poets expressed an unconscious wish.

Issue 13 Machine Politics

Laws, courts, the forming of States, the charters of cities, the going and coming of commerce and malls, are all for you.

Issue 25 Slow Burn

The nomination of a Supreme Court justice is the closest thing the United States has to the election of a pope.

March 7, 2014
Episode 13: Get Real

More by this Author

Issue 14 Awkward Age

What oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed, you think, and favorite the tweet.

December 16, 2014
Totally Objective Holiday Gift Guide
Issue 13 Machine Politics

At its inception, the movement was both inarticulate and surpassingly eloquent, in the way of a cry of pain.

April 19, 2014

Subscribers can now read every issue online.