The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) condemns the prosecution of DSA member Cecily McMillan for a class D felony allegedly committed during an Occupy Wall Street demonstration on March 17, 2012, in Zuccotti Park, New York, NY. DSA calls for all charges to be dropped against Ms. McMillan.
Seized by police during a mass arrest of peaceful protestors, McMillan was beaten severely by the police on her ribs and arms until she went into seizure. She was subsequently denied medical treatment by the police for a lengthy period of time.
According to her attorney, before the beating, an individual grabbed her right breast from behind and McMillan instinctively threw an elbow in response. McMillan’s assailant turned out to be a male plainclothes police officer. In addition, the defense has recently learned that the arresting officer has previously been involved in incidents involving the possible excessive use of force, as well as other possible illegal behavior.
Despite the facts in the case that demonstrate that the police initiated the altercation, Cecily McMillan is facing charges that could yield up to a seven year prison term. Due to the unjustified nature of the police assault on McMillan and her subsequent brutal beating, DSA joins independent observers in demanding that the charges be dropped immediately.
At the same time, DSA would point out that McMillan is just one of more than 700 protesters arrested in the course of New York Occupy Wall Street’s mass mobilization. These mass arrests during a peaceful protest resulted from a policing policy of “arrest now, ask questions, and find charges later,” a pattern of unjust policing noted in a scrupulously detailed report issued by the NYU School of Law and Fordham Law School faculties.
According to this report, the NYPD routinely used excessive force against Occupy protestors, with the police employing batons, pepper spray, scooters, and horses against the peaceful demonstrators. This behavior has led to the vast majority of these 700 charges being dismissed by the courts.
DSA notes that Cecily McMillan has been an active member for several years of both DSA and its youth section, the Young Democratic Socialists, having served as the volunteer northeast regional coordinator for YDS in 2011-12. But McMillan's case is just one blatant example of a broader pattern of state violation of the basic right of all to peacefully assemble and protest.
DSA urges its members and friends to participate in demonstrations of support for McMillan and to contribute to the costs of her defense. We urge everyone to sign the petition requesting that the District Attorney drop the charges against McMillan.
Concerned individuals can click here to find more information about the upcoming protest on her arraignment date of March 19.
To follow any new developments please join the Facebook page “Cecily’s Judgement Day.”
Statement by the National Political Committee of DSA on March 3, 2014.