A rally is already under way at Zuccotti Park in the wake of Cecily McMillan's sentencing. A complete statement from the defense follows this excerpt from the sentencing memo filed Friday. photo credit: @illumynous via Twitter
(19May14)NYC Cecily McMillan was lucky to have such articulate and sensitive representation through the 3 year ordeal that led to her sentencing today. 9 of 12 jurors stated that a jail sentence would be undesirable, and her defense filed a motion Friday arguing that punishment she received at the hands of the NYPD was more than adequate for any crime she may have committed. She will probably serve 68 days of a 90 sentence. A 5 year parole was also imposed, but an appeal is already underway.
Sentencing memorandum filed May 16, 2014
(excerpt below, complete document attached)
A Determinate Sentence Would Be Unduly Harsh
The sole penologieal purpose of sentencing Ms. McMillan to a determinate
term of imprisonment would be to punish her for her unprovoked assault on a New
York City Police officer But she has already been sufficiently punished for her
Testimony of both the prosecution and defense Witnesses showed that as soon
as the elbow was delivered to Officer Bovell’s eye, Ms. McMillan was violently
arrested With several officers landing on top of her, including the assaulted officer.
Her head hit the pavement several times in the effort to subdue her (video supports
this conclusion) and she was put into a semi-conscious state by the force of the arrest.
The video evidence shows that she was then forcibly removed to a detention area
where she was seen (by unimpeached Witnesses) as being in a state of shock and
unresponsive to surrounding stimuli. Everyone who saw her in this area was
convinced that they were seeing a woman in serious distress, a conclusion supported
by video and photographic evidence.
From the detention area where she remained handcuffed and untreated, she
was placed on an MTA bus for transportation to a police precinct for processing.
Shortly añer being placed on the bus, she began “shaking”, causing the police to
remove her from the bus and place her on the ground near the front door ofthe bus.
There, she continued “shaking” for several more minutes, an event recorded on video
and witnessed by many who concluded that she was having a seizure.
When the shaking stopped, she was still unresponsive and was carried across
the street where she was placed on the ground, still unresponsive, and waited at least
10 minutes for emergency medical help to arrive, administer oxygen and eventually
transport her to the Beekman Downtown emergency room.
Most of the foregoing description is documented on video evidence placed
before the Court as Defense Exhibits H, I, K, L, and M. Some of these were admitted
into evidence and some not, but the Court has had the opportunity to view them
almost in their entirety. They should be taken into account.
After being released from arraignment some lO hours after her arrest (and
following another hospital visit) her injuries were photographed and documented: she
had bruising all over her legs, arms and back, the results of her arrest process and the
not unexpected responses ofthe police officers who had arrested her, obviously upset
that one of their own had been assaulted.
A subsequent visit to her own Doctor at the Family Health Clinic in Manhattan
confirmed the nature and extent other soft-tissue injuries, which appear in the medical
records of the Clinic as Well as photos taken of them. Her subsequent course of
treatment at the ciinic included a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the
beginnings of treatment for the disorder, a course of treatment which has not yet
Thus, punishment in the form of physical and psychic injury has already been
given to Ms. McMillan. lt was delivered in connection with her arrest, prior to the
commencement of criminal proceedings, delivered in a summary fashion and must be
considered as punishment for the criminal act which led to her arrest.
In short, because Ms. McMillan has already been severely punished, additional
incarceration would be unduly harsh.
Sentencing statement from Cecily's support team May, 19, 2014
Today, Cecily Mcmillan was sentenced to 90 days in prison for being sexually assaulted by a police officer
at a protest, and then responding to that violence by defending herself. We all know that Cecily did not
receive a fair trial and this case will be fought in the Court of Appeals.
The sentencing of Cecily McMillan has elicited an array of deeply felt responses from a broad range of
individuals and communities, and it has also created a moment to think about what solidarity means. For
many of us who consider ourselves to be part of the Occupy movement, there’s first and foremost a
simple and deep sadness for a member of our community who has endured a painful and demeaning
physical and sexual assault, and now has had her freedom taken away from her. And it’s painfully clear to
us that Cecily’s case is not special. Sexual violence against women is disturbingly common, and there is a
tremendous amount of overpolicing and prosecutorial overreach by the police and the courts, enacted
predominantly upon black and brown populations every single day, generation after generation.
On a broader level, there’s been a tremendous outpouring of public support in the wake of the verdict, for
which Cecily and the team are truly grateful. We’re heartened, too, by the outrage this blatant,
heavyhanded attempt to quash dissent has elicited from the public at large. The message this verdict
sends is clear: What Cecily continues to endure can happen to any woman who dares to challenge the
corporate state, its Wall Street patrons, and their heavy handed enforcers, the NYPD. We certainly think
outrage is an appropriate response from economic and social justice activists and allies who are concerned
about the silencing of those who push for change. The DA and the courts want to make an example out of
Cecily—to deter us, to scare us, to keep us out of the streets. And we won’t let that happen. This ruling
will not deter us, it will strengthen our resolve.
At the same time we recognize that outrage is a blunt tool that can too often obscure important
distinctions. Cecily’s story represents a confluence of a number of different kinds of structural and
institutional oppression that impact different communities in different ways. Expressions of shock at the
mistreatment and denial of justice for Cecily—a whiteappearing, cisgendered graduate student—only
underline how rarely we’re proven wrong in our presumptions that common privileges of race, class and
gendernormativity will be fulfilled.
It’s no great secret that police brutality and intimidation and railroading in the court system are an
alltoopredictable part of life for many lowincome black and brown people, immigrants, and gender
nonconforming New Yorkers—the vast majority of whom receive far less than Cecily in the way of legal
support and media attention. And while we're furious that, in the wake of a violent sexual assault, Cecily
might now be subject to the institutionalized sexual violence of the prison system, it’s only on top of our
horror at the gross injustice that countless people with significantly less recourse experience daily at the
hands of that same system.
While we believe Cecily’s story can provide a rallying point around which others may challenge police
sexual violence and the brutal suppression of dissent, we recognize that, at best, Cecily is an awkward
symbol for the broader issues of police brutality and a broken, biased legal system. This awkwardness is
but one example of many awkward scenarios regarding race and privilege that played out in Occupy
communities since the original occupation of Zuccotti Park. As a movement, we see in this moment a
chance not to push past, but to sit with that awkwardness—to start to reach out in ways that at times may
be uncomfortable and to further stretch our boundaries. To learn from communities who’ve been in this
struggle long before Occupy existed: From feminist organizations who resist patriarchal domination and
combat sexual violence, to antiracist organizations who, in their struggle for justice, have been met every
step of the way by a violent police force and a legal system committed to silencing dissent.
The Occupy Wall Street Movement has been a catalyst for social and economic change. But, while we
claim to be “the 99%”, building a movement that truly represents the diversity and strength of the people
will require a principled approach in our activism centered around a love ethic. Bell hooks describes the
love ethic in All About Love as:
“The will to one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. Love
is as love does, Love is an act of will—namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies
choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”
To build solidarity, it’s not enough to simply be a slogan or a meme—Slavoj Zizek told us during the
encampment to “not fall in love with ourselves”. Solidarity means listening and extending ourselves
when oppressed communities ask—not to try to lead, but to get our hands dirty and do the work. Building
solidarity across the 99% is the only way to effectively fight the 1%, and to create genuine change.
Though Zuccotti Park changed us forever, the true work began when we went back out into the world.
Many of us are now are working in communities, figuring out how to most effectively demand justice for
the 99%—from copwatch, to tenant councils that combat high rents and poor living conditions, to helping
build community gardens. As we continue building support networks in our new communities, for the
people who still interact with one another in the movement, we are more than friends now—we are
family. We’re connected because we see in each other the strength to overcome struggles we couldn’t
possibly win on our own.
A member of our support team went to Rikers Island yesterday to visit Cecily and she spoke of her
experiences in prison:
“I am very conscious of how privileged I am, especially in here. When you are in prison white
privilege works against you. You tend to react when you come out of white privilege by saying
“you can’t do that” when prison authorities force you to do something arbitrary and meaningless.
But the poor understand that’s the system. They know it is absurd, capricious and senseless, that it
is all about being forced to pay deference to power. If you react out of white privilege it sets you
apart. I have learned to respond as a collective, to speak to authority in a unified voice. And this
has been good for me. I needed this.”
“We can talk about movement theory all we want,” she went on. “We can read Michel Foucault or
Pierre Bourdieu, but at a certain point it becomes a game. You have to get out and live it. You
have to actually build a movement. And if we don’t get to work to build a movement now there will
be no one studying movement theory in a decade because there will be no movements. I can do this
in prison. I can do this out of prison. It is all one struggle.”
As Cecily continues the struggle in prison, we will continue outside. We show that we are a family not just
by words, but by our actions. Paulo Freire states in Pedagogy of the Oppressed that praxis is the
"reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it. Through praxis, oppressed people
can acquire a critical awareness of their own condition, and, with their allies, struggle for
Through praxis, we learn again and again that all of our grievances are connected. Our struggles are not
the same. But our fates are tied up in each others. Solidarity is the only way we’ll see our way through.
To stay involved and help Cecily while she is in prison, please go to www.justiceforcecily.com for more
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