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What Happened to the Right to Assembly? Shock at Cecily's Case Builds

The gathering at Liberty after the verdict

L Nyrobi Nicole Moss, Cecily's Legal Guardian

In light of today's news, I am saddened and heartbroken for my child. I have helped raise Cecily Marie since she was 14 years old. I became her legal guardian when she was 16. In all of the years I have participated in this young woman's life, I have never witnessed any behavior that merits this gross injustice. She is passionate. yes. She is outspoken. Yes. She has the courage of her convictions and she is a survivor. YES AND YES AGAIN. But she is not violent. She is not an attention or glory seeker! She actually believes in her heart that right and justice will prevail. Today, lady Justice, you have failed my daughter and removed a bit of the light from her eyes. It is not acceptable! However, she will continue to survive #1 cause she is made of sterner stuff and #2 cause that who I in the hell raised her to be!! Cecily McMillan be fearless my love! Wild women wear no blues and the journey has just begun.

Bill Dobbs, OWS Press Team

Finally, The Verdict. Things were calm but then the unexpected.  Some people sitting in a row together stood up to chant a pungent comment – about the jury’s verdict, the judge’s order jailing Cecily until sentencing, the whole month-long travesty--creating quite a scene in a courtroom at 100 Centre Street yesterday afternoon.  Approximately 80 people had made it through two successive security searches into Part 41 of Manhattan Criminal Court only to find themselves ringed by scores of court officers; a row of them at the front nearly blocking sight of the proceedings.  When sharp cries of ‘shame’ suddenly filled the room even more officers popped out of a side door.  Specially equipped for the occasion this bunch strutted into the courtroom with conspicuous racks of flexi-cuffs.  Cecily McMillan was whisked out through a back entrance and the judge vanished from the bench probably into the bowels of the building.   

All in the audience along with the press (MSM:  The New York Times, The Guardian, New York Daily News, New York Post, Village Voice, Wall Street Journal.  Also, OWS and other media makers) were ordered, and in some cases pushed, out of the courtroom and then banished from the 11th floor altogether.  Two people in the hall, at least one a freelance reporter, documenting the commotion with cameras were forced by court officers to delete the images.  Fortunately there were no arrests.  Outside, supporters gathered into a crowd and an impromptu rally began, drawing reporters and photographers out of the building while law enforcement lurked nearby.  Martin Stolar, lead defense lawyer, gave his first reaction to the awful verdict and took questions, a giant puppet appeared and a member of Justice For Cecily read a strong statement. 

In solidarity, people gathered last night in Liberty Square to discuss the case and possible actions.  This highly political felony prosecution of an OWS member galvanizes a political response.    

Coverage – there’s lots of coverage online with new items still appearing.   The Guardian has been terrific – Jon Swaine broke a story today, an interview with the first juror to speak publicly about the case who was shocked to learn the guilty verdict could mean 7 years in prison.  Swaine’s report yesterday about the conviction drew over 600 comments.  Molly Knefel’s op-ed for The Guardian is getting much traction.   The Village Voice has a sweet slideshow by C.S. Muncy, and a story about last night’s convergence.   Many media outlets took notice of the trial and the terrible verdict.    The New York Times has run five articles since the trial began.

I’m still ruminating about the case.

Lawyers Martin Stolar and Rebecca Heinegg did a stellar job defending Cecily, magnanimously working pro-bono.   A very energetic support effort, Justice for Cecily, arose.  Plenty of coverage which was generally fair.  Despite a vigorous defense that offered a heap of serious “reasonable doubt” Cecily was found guilty.   Where’s the justice?  Why the book was thrown at Cecily, for injuries to a cop that amounted to a “shiner,” remains unanswered.   In this matter, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Judge Ronald Zweibel bear responsibility.   A darker view comes from the late Justin Ravitz who served as a criminal court judge in Detroit; in the era when Amtrak was on the skids he derided the entire criminal justice system as America’s only working railroad.   

Occupy Wall Street took on Wall Street greed.   To do that OWS has also been forced to fight for the right to protest.  Any struggle for economic justice is crippled without the right to protest.   The cops “cleared” the park on March 17, 2012 as part of an unrelenting campaign to repress protest because the brass – who often personally led the attacks--know that people gain power by standing together.  Cecily McMillan is jailed in Riker’s Island but it could be any one of us.  May 19 she will be sentenced by Judge Zweibel.  Stay tuned. 

Bexa, Legal Advisor

It's good to support friends when they're kidnapped & jailed, & to support each other when unwarranted faith in the courts is dashed. I hope what's happening to Cecily helps people realize that this kind of thing happens multiple times a day in our terrible destructive machine of a justice system, & motivates action. Just because this may be the first friend you have that this has happened to doesn't mean this is a single incident that stands alone. So many people are in prison. What are we doing about it?

Emily Reynolds

I think it's also important to remember that this case is also about Cecily as a woman. Women were put on trial in this case and the verdict reminds women that sexual violence is inevitable for women. And that we as a culture will punish survivors. This is an example of one of the ones in which the State props up gender based violence.

Stacy Lanyon, Photographer

You can see the photos I testified in court about..... The woman in the green was convicted of assaulting a police officer and not the other way around. I saw them treating her like a rag doll when she was clearly in distress. They ignored her condition to the point where she ended up having a seizure, which she is doing when she is lying in front of the bus with her skirt hiked above her hips. They couldn't even give her the dignity of pulling her skirt down. This night was the most frightening situation I have ever been in in my life. An army of police officers invaded a peaceful gathering and brutalized many, many people, including myself. This hardly even made the news. Even if it did, it would probably be seen as somebody else's problem by a lot of people. I know that a better world than this is possible, and we all need to be active in building it. We need to bring an end to this apathy.
 
The above have been culled from a few private emails and posts from a certain crappy social media site that we need to replace with an open source networking platform.

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