An Occupy Wall Street demonstrator was found guilty of second-degree assault Monday in Manhattan following a months-long trial concerning a 2012 altercation she had with the New York Police Department.
Cecily McMillan, 25, now stands to face as much as seven years in prison behind bars as a result of Monday afternoon’s conviction.
As RT reported earlier this year, McMillan was participating in an OWS demonstration in New York City during the spring of 2012 when she was manhandled by the NYPD while being detained, and received multiples cuts and bruised ribs as a result. While handcuffed, McMillan — then 23 — suffered from a seizure for upwards of seven minutes before reportedly fainting.
According to police, moments earlier McMillan elbowed an officer in the face. She was soon hauled off in an ambulance, and eventually charged with a felony for allegedly injuring NYPD Officer Grantley Bovell. She insisted, however, that Bovell had grabbed her breast from behind, and the elbow she threw was not an attempt to assault a cop, but rather a reflexive response to the unwanted grope. Documents were shown in court of Bovell sporting a black eye after the incident.
Assistant District Attorney Erin Choi, the lead prosecutor in the case, testified during the trial that McMillan’s claims were “heinous,” the Village Voice reported, and that the woman “might as well have said that aliens came that night and assaulted her.”
“It is time for the defendant to answer for her own criminal actions,” Choi said during closing arguments on Friday, according to Joe Swaine at the Guardian. “Our founding fathers did not create a right to free assembly so people could commit crimes and hide behind their right to protest. This is a sacred right that should be preserved and protected.”
After a weekend-long break, on Monday afternoon McMillan was pronounced guilty after lunch. Next she is expected to be transferred to an area women’s prison ahead of her sentencing.
“Shame!” protesters yelled out after the verdict was announced, Swaine reported from the courthouse on Monday. No fewer than two people were removed from the courtroom by the police after refusing to leave, Swaine said.
According to another eyewitness, 22 police officers with plastic handcuffs walked into the court after the verdict was announced to join the more than two-dozen others who were there to maintain the peace.
In a statement read outside of the courthouse moments later, a group of supporters who have raised awareness of the case under the branding of #Justice4Cecily said they were “devastated” by the verdict, which they said was the result of legal proceedings that were far from fair and open.
“In the two years awaiting trial, Cecily was never offered anything less than a felony charge, a charge that would stay with her for the rest of her life. While awaiting a trial, Cecily has lived in limbo for two years, not knowing what her future would be, forced to re-live her trauma every one of those days,” they wrote.
Beyond the sexual assault and physical injuries she sustained, Cecily suffered PTSD and has had difficulty finishing her master’s degree and continuing her work as a union organizer and activist,” the statement continued. “Despite the chilling precedent this verdict puts forth for activists, we will not be deterred from seeking social and economic justice, as evidenced in the courtroom today.”
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