The young women automatically reacted defensively when a police officer violently grabbed her breasts, and that was considered enough of a reason for her arrest. The incident took place on in March 2012 at Zuccotti Park where young activists were celebrating six-months of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement.
According to a statement on the “Justice for Cecily” webpage, “Cecily swung by the park to pick up a friend on her way to a nearby pub. Minutes later, she was sexually assaulted while attempting to leave Zuccotti in compliance with police evacuation orders. Seized from behind, she was forcefully grabbed by the breasts and ripped backwards. Cecily was startled and her arm involuntarily flew backward into the temple of her attacker, who promptly flung her to the ground, where others repeatedly kicked and beat her into a string of seizures”.
During her seizure the 25-year old was unable to receive immediate medical attention because the NYPD denied access to paramedics wanting to help her. She was later hospitalized with cuts and bruises to her back, shoulders, head and breasts, according to the Nation. Cecily could barely walk after her harsh treatment.
Prosecutors had offered Cecily McMillan a deal, under which she would plead guilty to the charge of assaulting the police officer in exchange for a prosecutors’ recommendation for a non-custodial sentence but she rejected the suggestion. Needless to say, the prosecution failed to take into consideration the police atrocity, suggesting instead that McMillan’s injuries were self-inflicted.
“To the jury, the hundreds of police batons, helmets, fists, and flex cuffs out on March 17 were invisible, rendering McMillan’s elbow the most powerful weapon on display in Zuccotti that night, at least insofar as the jury was concerned,” journalist Molly Knefel wrote, cited by Common Dreams.
After the guilty verdict on May 5, 2014, hundreds of text messages were sent to ‘Occupy’ supporters and activists, stating: “Cecily has been found guilty. 6pm solidarity rally at Liberty Square. No JUSTICE? No PEACE! #Justice4Cecily”.
A spontaneous rally began with the crowd chanting, “Prosecute the cops for sexual assault”. Some protesters wrote messages on the cement, reading “warning NYPD may sexually assault you in this park”.
McMillan’s supporters are now planning the next steps of their campaign and organizing petitions, call-in days, and other civil action.
“We’re also trying to bring together communities of US activists and anyone who feels strongly about this trial to try and heal and move forward and broaden the conversation about the justice system to talk about more people than just Cecily,” said Lucy Parks, field coordinator of ‘Justice For Cecily’, quoted by Democracy Now!