Editor's Note: Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan was found guilty today of assaulting a police officer. Her conviction capped a controversial trial that saw Judge Ronald Zweibel repeatedly suppress evidence that would have helped exonerate McMillan. She sits in jail tonight facing a possible sentence of as much as seven years in prison. Her legal team released the following statement:
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 First
Amendment Rights, and placed the burden of proof on the defense, not
the prosecution. He is rightly known as ‘a prosecutor in robes’.
Beyond Judge Zweibel, it is disgusting to see vast resources from
taxpayers wasted for over two years to prosecute Cecily. Manhattan DA
Cy Vance has refused to drop this case, pursuing maximum charges
against Cecily while ignoring police violence and misconduct. This is
unfortunately not isolated to Cecily’s case but is indicative of a
system concerned not with justice but with the unrelenting harassment
of dissenters and the powerless.
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. 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.
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. Though we’ve held our tongues
throughout this trial as Cecily was personally attacked and degraded,
we could not stand silent today in the face of such a gross
miscarriage of justice. The people had to speak truth to power today
by standing up and will continue to do so as long as this justice
system continues to punish the 99% and protect the 1%.
As journalist Chris Hedges said in a recent article, “The corporate
state, which has proved utterly incapable of addressing the grievances
and injustices endured by the underclass, is extremely nervous about
the mass movements that have swept the country in recent years. And if
protests erupt again—as I think they will—the state hopes it will have
neutralized much of the potential leadership. Being an activist in
peaceful mass protest is the only real “crime” McMillan has
We recognize that, as poorly as Cecily has been treated these past two
years, she was lucky enough to have an amazing support system
comprised of representation from the National Lawyer’s Guild and
Mutant Legal, as well as significant financial help from supporters of
Occupy Wall Street and a team of ten who tirelessly worked to bring
her case to light and support her through this trying time. It’s
harrowing to imagine how many unfortunate people encounter this system
without the resources Cecily had, though we know countless innocent
people are forced to plea to felonies and ruin their lives every day
in this building.
We will be fighting this unjust verdict in the court of appeals.
Cecily’s lawyers are optimistic, given the circumstances of the case
and the gross bias demonstrated throughout, that we can win on appeal.
Thank you all for your ongoing support throughout this trial. We know
that many share our outrage at this verdict, if you would like to get
involved in jail support, please visit justiceforcecily.com to learn
more about how to best support Cecily.