Judge Zweibel sentences Cecily McMillan to three months in controversial case.
On Monday, May 19, 2014, Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan was sentenced to three months jail time and five years’ probation for second-degree felony assault of police officer Grantley Bovell.
Vanity Fair's Kia Makarechi notes the case has been controversial based on the lack of video evidence presented in court showing police officers ignoring the woman on the ground in the middle of a seizure. Jurors saw the tape, but did not hear the audio where protesters begged for medical help.
McMillan and her defense team claim the strike was accidental when he grabbed her breast. The district attorney’s office deny the possibility, even saying the bruises on her chest were self-inflicted. However, the media has uncovered Bovell’s alleged violent misconducts which the district attorney’s office did not enter into evidence.
Added to the clear narrative set out by the D.A.’s office, some of jurors felt remorse when they realized McMillan would not get probation, which they felt to be appropriate, but jail time. One juror told 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.”
In Monday’s sentencing, McMillan refused to be intimidated into admitting something she did not due in order to avoid jail time. “I cannot confess to a crime I did not commit. I cannot throw away my dignity in return for my freedom.” The full statement may be found at Justice for Cecily.
Her supporters include majority of the jurors who convicted her, the members of the Russian band Pussy Riot and countless social media users across most platform, along with influential New Yorkers. Although many feel the conviction is an injustice, she admits that her privilege of being a white woman with media attention allows her far more opportunities than those she sees every day at Rikers Island. A fact that offers cold comfort.
And the base of the story is not that McMillan was sentenced.
What has many people upset is the fact the New York Police Department has a very spotty record on use of force. Recalling the 1960s and the use of force on the student protesters of the time, some may feel the limitations placed on local citizens participating in peaceful assembly offers little oversight of police and law enforcement.
By the D.A. not introducing the police officer’s own record, or the full story, many supporting McMillan see the downward slide. States like Florida and California already show a discrepancy in protecting the officers over citizens, creating an unequal balance.
While Judge Zweibel did not hand down the maximum sentence is little victory when the defendant seemingly never had a chance of fair trial to begin with.
Twitter is buzzing with commentary on the case and the NYPD.
14 letter word meaning sacrificial lamb to placate outrage over increasingly racist American police brutality - CECILYMCMILLAN— Eleanor Self (@ejself) May 20, 2014