An Occupier’s Trial

By Maurice Isserman


Cecily McMillan has had trouble concentrating on the master’s thesis she is supposed to be writing this spring under my direction at the New School in New York City, a study of the political beliefs and career of the late, great socialist, pacifist, and civil rights campaigner Bayard Rustin.

It’s not that Cecily has writer’s block and has been avoiding the library (if only it were that). Rather, she is spending far too much of her time in the defendant’s seat in a courtroom in New York City Criminal Court in Lower Manhattan. There she is facing charges of felony assault on a police officer in Zuccotti Park, birthplace of Occupy Wall Street, on March 17, 2012. On that day a demonstration took place in the park to mark the six-month anniversary of the original occupation. When the police moved in to clear the park, making scores of arrests, Cecily was caught in the melee. Her trial began this past week, on Monday, April 7, and has drawn national and international media attention, being billed as the last Occupy trial. On Friday, the newly seated jury heard opening arguments from the prosecution and from Cecily’s lawyers. The case is expected to last another two weeks. If convicted, she could be sentenced to seven years in prison. . . .

For the complete report, go to the Dissent blog. Cross-posted with permission from Dissent.

Maurice_Isserman_Photo.jpgMaurice Isserman is a professor of history at Hamilton College, the author of An Other American:  The Life of Michael Harrington (2000). His most recent article for Dissent chronicled its 60-year history.



Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership.

Cecily McMillan is a DSA member and a former volunteer organizer for the Young Democratic Socialists. Click here to see DSA’s statement on Cecily’s case. For updates on the trial and how to support Cecily, go to


Showing 1 reaction

commented 2014-04-22 09:17:02 -0400 · Flag
If the government can convict and imprison Cecily that would be a wet blanket on dissent. Fear is always the weapon the powers use against dissent. They don’t have to lock you up to scare you into keeping your mouth shut. However, arrest, trial and prison will shut most Americans up in a hurry. Just losing your job due to dissenting from the accepted beliefs will scare most. If I was arrested and had to hire a lawyer and pay to defend myself that would be a burden.

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