Cecily McMillan–a critical Occupy trial at hand

The illustration of Cecily from the flyer for the case. Drawing by Sparrow Media.

If you read this space, you know that I write about troublemakers. The three kinds of troublemakers I’ve written about are:

  • Intentional troublemakers who expect prison time for their deeds. This is a relatively small group–the Plowshares activists come to mind. Their whole point is to be arrested in protest because the thing they’re protesting  is so heinous (and the punishment meted out to them is so severe), it calls attention to what they’re trying to point out. Also in that category: people like Rosa Parks (she was an activist and knew exactly what she was getting into when she sat down on the bus). The folks who cross the line every year at the School of the Americas know that they’ll face felony time for doing so.
  • Intentional troublemakers who may not have been expecting prison time. I think Chelsea Manning didn’t know exactly where her revelations to Wikileaks would land him, but she was moved by conscience. Ditto Edward Snowden–he thought he was doing the right thing.  Jeremy Hammond knew he was breaking the law, but thought people should know about the way the US intelligence community was outsourcing intelligence gathering to companies like Stratfor.
  • Intentional troublemakers who think they’ll get away with what they’re doing. I don’t think the Paypal 14 expected to face the kind of felony charges they had to plea to.

And then there’s Cecily McMillan. She went to an Occupy Wall Street protest here in NY and ended up in a hospital with felony charges filed by the people who put her into that hospital. If you haven’t heard any of this before, you’re not alone. Even the liberal-friendly Huffington Post has looked the other way. What happened is this: Cecily McMillan was taking part in an Occupy Wall Street six-month anniversary protest in March when she was grabbed by her breast from behind. She instinctively threw her elbow back. She managed to hit the police officer who was assaulting her, Grantley Bovell, in the face. Chaos ensued–Bovell and fellow cops beat McMillan so badly, she had seizures and had to be hospitalized. When she recovered, she was charged with felony assault of a police officer. She goes to court on Monday April 7. It is by no means certain that she won’t end up with a felony conviction and a long prison sentence.

I’m sorry to refer you to other sources for the particulars of the case. I have neither the patience or the stomach to lay all the out here. There’s a breakdown of the case (and what’s going on prior to her court date) here. What it could mean (not only to Cecily McMillan but to the whole idea of civil liberty in the United States) is laid out by The Guardian. I’d count on reporting from The Sparrow project. What people need to know is the way the deck has been stacked–the judge has refused to allow Officer Grantley Bovell’s record to be entered into evidence. The judge, Ronald A Zweibel has been accused of being a ‘prosecutor with a robe‘.

Court support is needed, of course. Trial starts tomorrow. Occupy supporters are offering breakfast. Details here. If you can’t drop by, at least throw something in the donation cup.





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