The Release of Cecily McMillan

by Jason Schulman

Cecily McMillan has been released from prison, but the American justice system has not yet allowed her to be truly free.

Cecily-McMillan.jpg

An activist in Occupy Wall Street and a member of Democratic Socialists of America, a working class native of rural Texas and a socialist-pacifist in the tradition of the young Bayard Rustin, Cecily was wrongfully convicted on May 5 of felony assault of police officer Grantley Bovell, who both assaulted her and brutalized other OWS protesters the night of March 17, 2012. Judge Ronald Zweibel prohibited key pieces of evidence from the defense. It originally appeared that Cecily would be sentenced to two-to-seven years in Rikers Island. Undoubtedly due to international outcry at the obvious injustice of her trial—even nine of the 12 jurors signed an appeal to the judge asking that she be given no further jail time—Cecily was sentenced on May 19 to a 90-day sentence and five years of probation.

While in Rikers, Cecily participated in what she called “collective action to fight for right to recreation. Corrections Officers routinely schedule meals, medication, mail, and recreation at the exact same time, thereby preventing inmates from having their daily recreation and receiving mail.” Cecily herself was forced to wait nearly three weeks before receiving a necessary prescription medication, then was denied it for two days, given it for two days, and then denied it again. As she says in an interview with jezebel.com—referring to the avoidable death of an inmate with liver cancer and Hepatitis C, among other horrors—“It's not like anyone in here expects to be treated like a human being…My biggest surprise is that more people do not die in here…”

After serving 58 days in prison, Cecily was released on July 2. That day she spoke publicly at a 1pm press conference outside the Rikers Island Gates in Queens. A transcript of her statement can be found at justiceforcecily.com. It is not about her in particular, but about the suffering of her inmates. “I am inspired by the resilient community I have encountered in a system that is stacked against us,” she says. Despite the five years of probation hanging over her head, and despite the fact that she still faces another trial over another incident in which she supposedly interfered with an arrest in December 2013, she states: “The court sent me here to frighten me and others into silencing our dissent, but I am proud to walk out saying that the 99% is, in fact, stronger than ever. We will continue to fight until we gain all the rights we deserve as citizens.” Her statement includes a number of demands for prison reform that she formulated with other women in Rikers.

(As reported by the Huffington Post, Rikers has lately been shaken by allegations that Correctional Officers were smuggling drugs and weapons to inmates, with at least 12 facing charges. The prison has also been hit by violence resulting from a lack of psychiatric beds and the deaths of two mentally ill inmates, one of whom was an ex-marine who “baked to death” in his cell.)

Cecily hopes to be allowed to move to Atlanta, Georgia and work as a community organizer. We in DSA remain in solidarity with our comrade and hope to continue working with her against the manifold injustices of American capitalist society—including its palpably unjust “justice” system.  

See the statement issued by DSA’s National Political Committee as Cecily awaited trial in March 2014.

Jason_S.jpgJason Schulman teaches political science at Lehman College in the Bronx. He is a member of New York City DSA   and is the editor of Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

 

 

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Data Security for DSA Members

June 27, 2017

Ack! I googled myself and didn't like what I found!

WHAT: A DSA Webinar about "Doxing"
WHEN: 9PM EST, 6PM PST

We're proud of our organizing, and chapter work is transparent for both political and practical reasons. However, there are basic precautions you can take in this time of rapid DSA growth to protect your privacy.

Key Wiki is a website that meticulously documents DSA activity and posts it for the world to see. If you're an active DSA member, likely your name is on their website. This is an example of "doxing".

As DSA becomes larger, more visible, and more powerful, we might expect that more websites like this will pop up, and more of our members' information might be posted publicly on the web.

Join a live webinar on Tuesday, June 27 with data security expert Alison Macrina, to learn:

  1. what is doxing? with examples and ways to prevent it
  2. how to keep your passwords strong and your data secure
  3. where to find your personal info on the internet and how to get it removed
  4. social media best practices for DSA organizers
  5. what to do if you've already been doxed

Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/9173276528

Call-in Info: +1 408 638 0968
Meeting ID: 917 327 6528

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

June 27, 2017
· 77 rsvps

Join DSA activist Judith Gardiner to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 9 pm ET, 8 pm CT, 7 pm MT, 6 pm PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

July 06, 2017
· 17 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-Chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 6 PM MT; 5 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

July 09, 2017
· 2 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

Running for the National Political Committee

July 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join this call to hear a presentation and ask questions about the role, duties and time commitment of a member of DSA's National Political Committee. In the meantime, check out the information already on our website about the NPC.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 11 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.