Cecily McMillan, Activist on Trial in Occupy Wall Street Assault, Faces 7 Years

Tuesday, 11 Feb 2014 10:21 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Jury selection for the trial of Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan began Monday. She could get seven years in prison for elbowing a New York City police officer in the eye during a protest in lower Manhattan in 2012.

McMillan, 25, is charged with a second degree Class D felony assault for an incident at Zuccotti Park on March, 17, 2012, according to The Guardian. Her attorney Martin Stolar acknowledged that McMillan struck the officer, but no crime was committed.

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"The question for the jury is whether she intentionally assaulted him," Stolar said. "We're going to present evidence that indicates: No. 1 that she had no idea it was a police officer behind her and No. 2 that she reacted when someone grabbed her right breast."

Stolar said the fact that she was grabbed blindly from behind prompted McMillan to jolt her elbow.

"That does not constitute a crime," Stolar added. "That constitutes a bit of over-policing and an accident as a result of that."

McMillan is a student at the New School and a union organizer. Even though media reports say she was handled roughly during the arrest, she has declined further comments on the case, according to The Guardian.

"I'm just exhausted," McMillan told the New School Free Press in a March 29, 2012 story. "My body is bruised from head to toe, and I've been in and out of three hospitals, two clinics. I guess I am one who seeks therapy through action, so I've been a little bit active and a little bit around, but I’m being urged to rest and it's probably a good idea." 

The New York Times reported that numerous Occupy Wall Street protestors accepted adjournment, contemplating dismissals, which meant charges would be dismissed and sealed if the arrestees stayed out of trouble for six months. 

Alexander Arbuckle, a New York University photography student rejected the offer and became the first person arrested at Occupy Wall Street to go to trial in May 2012, where he was acquitted when video evidence from bystanders and police showed him on the sidewalk obeying police commands before he was arrested.

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