Friday, May 9, 2014
Justice for Cecily!
Cecily was found guilty. We are devastated by the Jury’s verdict today. It has been clear from day one that Cecily has not received a fair and open trial. The job of a judge during a jury trial isn’t to guide the verdict to fit his opinion. Judge Zweibel, who consistently suppressed evidence, has demonstrated his clear bias by consistently siding with the prosecution. In addition to suppressing evidence, he imposed a gag order on Cecily’s lawyers, which is a clear violation of their 1st Amendment Rights, and placed the burden of proof on the defense, not the prosecution. He is rightly known as ‘a prosecutor in robes’.
More info about what happened to Cecily: [link] [link].
Observation from David J. Smith III, 2014-05-06, at Broadway and Liberty Street, Lower Manhattan:
I am back at Zuccotti and the camera on my shoulder is once again pointed at protestors.
It seems that two years and two months ago on this very spot, a Police Officer was engaged in crowd control on a similar group of peaceful protestors. They had gathered at the park to commemorate the six month anniversary of their original Occupation. While in the course of performing his duties, this Officer grabbed a 25 year old girl's breast from behind. He had his tactical jacket on inside out and failed to identify himself as a Law Enforcement Officer.
While her breast was being squeezed so hard that there would be a handprint bruise on it for days to come, the girl, known as Cecily, turned to confront her assailant. In doing so, this politically active young lady's elbow happened to knock this member of New York's Finest on his nose. He then began to use excessive force on the young girl, at which time Cecily fell to the ground in the throes of a grand mal seizure.
This is neither hearsay nor is it conjecture, as the entire event was well documented by several witnesses, in photographs and on video.
Emergency Medical Technicians tried to attend to this unfortunate victim, but despite their best efforts to reach a young woman in such obvious need of attention, the EMTs were held at bay by the NYPD to ensure that the continued arrest protocol and procedure could be properly performed on a convulsing Cecily.
Hours ago, she finally had her day in court. Cecily was convicted of assaulting that Police Officer. She was handed a felony conviction that carries with it a mandatory minimum 2 to 7 year sentence in a Federal Detention Facility.
On the six month anniversary of the initial September 17th Occupation of Wall Street, a member of the New York City Police Department sexually violated and grievously injured Ms. Cecily McMillan.
On St. Patrick's Day.
And now she is going to Federal Prison.
Although I am a member of the press, supposedly impartial and objective, I can't help but be sickened by this entire series of events.
"Remorseful Jurors Plea to Judge: No Prison Time For OWS Activist; Jurors express shock and regret upon learning guilty verdict could land Cecily McMillan in prison for 7 years"
2014-05-09 by Sarah Lazare from "Common Dreams" [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/05/09-1]:
A majority of the jury that found Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan guilty of "felony assault" of the very police officer who she says sexually assaulted and brutalized her appears to be remorseful that the 25-year-old could spend up to seven years behind bars.
Nine of the 12 people who served on the jury have penned a letter to Judge Ronald Zweibel begging for a "lenient" sentence that avoids any prison time. The letter, obtained by the Guardian and dated Tuesday [http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/08/cecily-mcmillan-jurors-judge-occupy-activist-jail], states: "We the jury petition the court for leniency in the sentencing of Cecily McMillan. We would ask the court to consider probation with community service. We feel that the felony mark on Cecily's record is punishment enough for this case and that it serves no purpose to Cecily or to society to incarcerate her for any amount of time."
The letter follows initial reactions of shock and regret from some who served on the jury—which was not informed of the verdict's severe sentencing guidelines during the trial—once they learned McMillan could be incarcerated for years. One juror expressed "remorse" to the Guardian on Tuesday, stating, "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." Martin Stolar, criminal defense attorney affiliated with the National Lawyers Guild and co-counsel for McMillan's case, said two other jurors had contacted him with similar expressions of regret, according to the Huffington Post [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/08/cecily-mcmillan-jury_n_5289116.html].
During McMillan's trial, the jury was not informed of the severe sentencing guidelines for the verdict, as is the standard in the United States, except for death penalty cases. Furthermore, they were denied key evidence throughout the trial.
McMillan's conviction on Monday shined an international spotlight on what critics charge is a failed "justice system" that routinely sides with police—no matter how bad their behavior, dismisses survivors of sexual violence, and criminalizes dissent.
McMillan is described by her supporters as "a 25-year-old organizer" who "has been politically active for over a decade — most notably in the Democratic Socialists for America, the anti-Scott Walker mobilization, and Occupy Wall Street."
She was one of approximately 70 people detained late the night of March 17/early morning March 18, 2012, when police violently cleared a memorial event marking the six-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. McMillan, who had stopped by the park to meet a friend, says she was sexually assaulted by police officer Grantley Bovell while she attempted to leave the area.
"Seized from behind, she was forcefully grabbed by the breast and ripped backwards," according to a statement by support group Justice For Cecily. "Cecily startled and her arm involuntarily flew backward into the temple of her attacker, who promptly flung her to the ground, where others repeatedly kicked and beat her into a string of seizures." Following the attack, McMillan underwent treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Despite numerous allegations that Bovell has inflicted excessive force while on duty, as well as photograph and video evidence of injuries sustained by McMillan—including a hand-shaped bruise on her chest, it was McMillan who was put on trial for felony charges of assaulting Bovell.
According to McMillan's supporters, what followed was a trial riddled with injustice, in which Judge Ronald Zweibel showed repeated favoritism towards the prosecution. Zweibel imposed a gag order on McMillan's lawyers, excluded key physical evidence, and ruled that information about Bovell's past violent behavior, and violence the night of McMillan's arrest, was not relevant to the case.
"To the jury, the hundreds of police batons, helmets, fists, and flex cuffs out on March 17 were invisible – rendering McMillan's elbow the most powerful weapon on display in Zuccotti that night, at least insofar as the jury was concerned," wrote journalist Molly Knefel, who was present the night of McMillan's arrest [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/05/cecily-mcmillan-occupy-guilty-police-violence].
McMillan, is planning an appeal, but the process could take six to nine months. Meanwhile, Justice for Cecily organizers report that they have been able to visit McMillan where she is being held at Rikers Island, and she has released the following message to her supporters [http://justiceforcecily.com/]: [begin excerpt] “Thank you again for all that you’ve done and continue to do for me- ya’ll are very much loved, and make me feel loved when I’m lying here at night. Please do not feel like there’s anything more you could have done— you all went above and beyond any expectations I had or any standards anyone would have set. Also, please don’t worry about my safety – it is difficult in here, but people (especially the inmates but also many of the corrections officers) have been very kind; several women (re-incarcerates) have taken me under their wing, giving me tea, sugar extra milk and the paper (NY Daily News)." [end excerpt]