Lawmakers asks judge for leniency against convicted Occupy protester
City Council members rallied in front of City Hall on Monday in support of Cecily McMillan, who was convicted last week for elbowing a police officer during a rally six months after the Occupy Wall Street protests.
McMillan, 25, faces up to seven years in jail for what she claimed at trial was a defensive move when the arresting officer allegedly grabbed and bruised her breast from behind.
A jury found McMillan guilty of assaulting Officer Grantley Bovell on March 17, 2012 during the arrest.
“A woman should never fear for the safety of her body,” wrote Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez in a statement Monday. “This is what Cecily McMillan felt prior to her arrest, and her split reaction in self-defense in no way warrants jail time.”
Rodriguez himself had charges against him dropped after he participated in Occupy events in 2011.
“She remains committed to fighting for social justice and we cannot let an injustice take away her potential for a productive and meaningful future,” he added.
At trial, Officer Bovell testified that he instructed McMillan to leave the park. Upon her refusal, he said he put his hand on her shoulder.
“I remember the defendant crouching down and lunging with her elbow and hitting me in the face,” he told the jury.
Rodriguez, along with Council members Jumaane Williams, Robert Cornegy, Jr., Helen Rosenthal and Laurie Cumbo echoed sentiments expressed by nine of the 12 jurors from McMillan’s trial who asked that the protestor be required to serve community service instead of a jail sentence.
Williams, who along with a number of other council members were arrested for civil disobedience during the original protests, said McMillan’s original participation “helped carry the voice of thousands of concerned constituents.”
“I believe it would be a miscarriage of justice to sentence Cecily prison time,” the Brooklyn councilman wrote. “I ask the judge in this case to listen to the jurors whose change of heart came after the conviction.”
McMillan is expected in court for sentencing on May 19.
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria