Here’s the background story from March 23, 2012. You will no doubt remember the video footage at the bus even if you’d forgotten Cecily’s name.
McMillan is being charged with the second degree assault of a police officer, a Class D felony that carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison. The case was due to begin on Thursday 6 February, but has been postponed over and over. Cecily has been living with this evil cloud hanging over her head for over two years now. ‘Speedy trial’: Pfffft. The whole thing sucks, and if I may be so bold: Fuck the NYPD and the police state we’re living under.
This link will take you to a Feb. 12 interview with McMillan’s attorney Martin Stolar; in it he said that McMillan’s elbow did indeed hit Officer Grantley Bovell in a reflex to having her breast grabbed from behind, an dragged her backward: ergo: no criminal intent, thus no crime. Stolar had petitioned the court for Bovell’ s personnel file, given the fact that he’d faced citizen complaints and lawsuits in past, including a current one by another Occupy protestor, Austin Guest, referenced in the video below. The court denied Bolar’s petition, but he hopes to be able to get the jury to hear that evidence somehow.
Chase Madar at the Guardian wrote an excellent op-ed in which he asked: ‘Cecily McMillan’s Occupy trial is a huge test of US civil liberties. Will they survive?’ (Irony intended? Dunno)
For years, comparing American freedom to Russian tyranny seemed like an exaggeration. But maybe we’re not so different after all’. He reminded readers:
‘McMillan is one of over 700 protestors arrested in the course of Occupy Wall Street’s mass mobilization, which began with hopes of radical change and ended in an orgy of police misconduct. According to a scrupulously detailed report (pdf here) issued by the NYU School of Law and Fordham Law School, the NYPD routinely wielded excessive force with batons, pepper spray, scooters and horses to crush the nascent movement. And then there were the arrests, often arbitrary, gratuitous and illegal, with most charges later dismissed. McMillan’s is the last Occupy case to be tried, and how the court rules will provide a clear window into whether public assembly stays a basic right or becomes a criminal activity.
New York is not the only place where the first amendment’s right to assembly continues to get gouged by police and prosecutors. In Chicago, police infiltrators goaded three activists into making Molotov cocktails; the young men were then charged with terror crimes – charges of which they were acquitted by an Illinois jury last week. Now that North Carolina has erupted into enormous protests against its far-right state government, we can likely expect police there to seek creative ways, legal and otherwise, to stifle mass political participation.
The freedom to assemble remains strong – as long as you’re a single person holding up your sign on a highway embankment or some other lonely spot. But the right to engage in real public demonstrations has been effectively eviscerated by local ordinances and heavy-handed police tactics like aggressive surveillance, “kettling” protestors with movable plastic barriers, arbitrary closures of public spaces and the harassment and arrest of journalists who would tell the tale.’ (Note: the Nato 3 were convicted of other lesser charges.)
Earlier this week it was reported that they were having a hard time seating a jury due to the fact that so many folks in the jury pool work on Wall Street and admitted strong biases against the Occupy movement, thus could not render an impartial verdict. File under: ‘They may be greedy bastards, but at least they were honest…or they simply didn’t want to waste all those days in court when they could be doing God’s work’. Pace.
But as of Friday, they seated a jury and chose alternates. The trial began with the prosecution saying that they will show video that ‘proves’ that McMillan intentionally threw her elbow at Bovell:
‘Video footage will show that Cecily McMillan “crouched down, then bent her knees, and then aimed her elbow at the officer and then jumped up to strike” the officer as he led her away from a protest in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in March 2012, Erin Choi, an assistant district attorney, told the jury in her opening argument in McMillan’s trial for assault.
“‘Are you filming this?’, ‘Are you filming this?’ were the defendant’s words right before she intentionally attacked Police Officer Grantley Bovell,” said Choi.
After receiving a blow to his left eye from McMillan’s elbow, Choi said, “Officer Bovell was completely horrified. This was the last thing he was expecting to happen that day.”
Miz France asked some odd questions here, but nonetheless, Lauren Wilfong, the press representative for “Justice for Cecily,” provided some salient information.
Justice for Cecily’s website will try to keep current as her trial resumes on Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. at the New York Criminal Court• 100 Centre Street, Room 1116 Part 41, New York, NY 10013. If you’re in the area, you might just want to support Cecily; the website has hints on attending.
Tweet using #Justice4Cecily
~ Cecily McMillan
(cross-posted at Café-Babylon.net)