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Today, the Jury is In: Cecily McMillan Has Become a Political Prisoner

Today, after a very loaded trial, with many twists and turns, an Occupy Wall Street activist who actively promoted non-violence and was characterized by many as a "liberal" and "reformist" believer in working within the system, will go to prison. This is a system which has failed her. But there will be an appeal.

Right now, as you read (6:40 PM, May 5th, 2014), Occupy Wall Street activists are converging on Liberty Square to show their indignant support for the last person to endure an Occupy trial in NYC.....and the first to go to jail as a long-term political prisoner. Come out to Zuccotti Park now! Be safe, be vigilant, be courageous.

Some first reactions from those at the trial, moments after the verdict came in:

Yoni Jakob Brombacher Miller: "My hands are shaking as I type this, but Cecily McMillan has been found guilty. I'm deeply upset, but not surprised. She's being sent into custody now until May 19th sentencing, where she'll receive between 2-7 years in prison."

Kim Fraczek: "Justice not served today. Beyond outrage. Beyond. Beyond."

Stacy Lanyon: "One of the most brutal things I've witnessed first hand done by law enforcement was just blamed on the victim. We do not live in a just society. I am in utter disbelief at the fact that we all allow this to continue day by day."

Cara Hartley: "It makes me so goddamn sick that Cecily has been found guilty of assault after being sexually assaulted by the NYPD. I know of at least two other people who were sexually assaulted during their arrests on that day, and I remember being in jail with Cecily when she was having trouble breathing but was too afraid to go to the hospital because she didn't know what the cops might do to her if she was alone. It is LEGAL to defend yourself against an illegal arrest, as was the case of the majority of arrests on M17, unfortunately the law is a facade of democracy, written for and by essentially property owners who will gleefully disregard basic human decency when the morality of property ownership at the expense of other living beings is called into question."

Jerry Levy: "They sexually molest you and then convict you of assault => what passes for 'justice' in NYC."

Monica Hunken: "Horrified, enraged and heart broken that Cecily was found guilty. A young woman is attacked by police, goes into seizures and is accused with assaulting a police officer when she was in her most vulnerable moment!! They have made a parody of our justice system and they have perpetuated the repulsive deeply embedded rape culture in our society. Sick to my stomach."

Conor Tomas: "Revolutionary time can loop, lag, and leap. Today marks the birth of our old Moor Karl Marx, the death of Irish anti-colonialist Bobby Sands, and the as-yet-undetermined verdict of Occupy activist Cecily McMillan. Let today please be a people's victory that we can build on, with each future day, to dismantle capitalism and its vicious courts and prisons, and to construct a better world. [People] make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language…. Thus the awakening of the dead in those revolutions served the purpose of glorifying the new struggles, not of parodying the old; of magnifying the given task in the imagination, not recoiling from its solution in reality; of finding once more the spirit of revolution, not making its ghost walk again…. The social revolution of the [twenty first] century cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the future. It cannot begin with itself before it has stripped away all superstition about the past. The former revolutions required recollections of past world history in order to smother their own content. The revolution of the [twenty first] century must let the dead bury their dead in order to arrive at its own content.'"

Zoltan Gluck: "This is absolutely infuriating. devastating. sickening. un-fucking-believable. -- Our friend and comrade Cecily was found guilty today and is now being held by the state, awaiting sentence. She faces up to 7 years in prison. This is a political trial. Cecily is a political prisoner. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/05/cecily-mcmillan-occupy-guilty-police-violence Free Cecily. Free all Political Prisoners."

Cecily's McMillan Support Committee 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 1st 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 committed.”

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 www.justiceforcecily.com to learn more about how to best support Cecily.

This statement can be found here.

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