Prosecuting attorney dismissed McMillan’s statements that she elbowed the police officer after he grabbed her breast
Originally published on Al Jazeera America – May 19, 2014
NEW YORK CITY — The New York Supreme Court sentenced Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan to three months at Rikers Island Monday for assaulting a police officer, after a prosecutor called McMillan’s statement that the officer sexually assaulted her a “complete fabrication.”
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ronald Zweibel also sentenced McMillan to five years of probation and will require her to complete mental health counseling.
McMillan was convicted on May 5 of having elbowed the officer, Grantley Bovell, in the eye. She said she did it reflexively because he had groped her breast while he led her away from a demonstration in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Photos McMillan had submitted to the court showed a bruise on her right breast.
McMillan wore a neon pink dress and black tennis shoes as she made her final plea before the judge.
“I stand before you today exhausted,” the 25-year-old student at New York City’s New School said. “I’ve lost friends, family, school and work — and most recently, my freedom.”
She’d lost everything, she said, “with one exception — my dignity.”
Some 50 police and court security crowded a courtroom with an 84-person audience.
The prosecution’s attorney, Assistant District Attorney Shanda Strain, said McMillan “falsely assaulted [Bovell’s] character both inside and outside of this courtroom.”
The attorney said that at the three to four hospital visits McMillan made after her arrest, she never mentioned the alleged sexual assault.
Later, outside the courthouse, an Occupy Wall Street supporter who went by the name Dragon Fly, 40, said that the way Strain had on Monday and at McMillan’s conviction dismissed her allegations of sexual assault was troubling.
“It goes to show how they are trying to criminalize dissent and take away our agency” to fight back against sexual assault, she said.
Dragon Fly added that she felt the city’s law enforcement was trying to put a “chill” into Occupy Wall Street and subsequent splinter groups’ members —particularly the women.
The prosecuting attorney underlined, in her closing statements to the judge, that McMillan’s trial was not about Occupy Wall Street.
“This trial was not a referendum on a social cause or movement,” Strain said, adding that McMillan has attempted to use the courtroom as a “platform” to make herself a “martyr” for her cause of decrying what Occupy Wall Street members call social and economic injustice.
McMillan’s attorney Martin Stolar disagreed, noting in his statement that McMillan’s is “the final of the Occupy Wall Street cases,” and saying the case would “go down as a matter of history how Occupy Wall Street was handled in the New York Supreme Court.”
After the judge handed down his ruling, members of the Justice for Cecily [McMillan] campaign — which said Monday that they are making another plea for her release in the form of a White House petition — chanted.
“Cecily is innocent, we shall not be moved,” they sang, as one-by-one, they filed out of the courtroom.