Occupy Protester Could Serve 7 Years for Her Own Sexual Assault

Almost three years later, the consequences of Occupy Wall Street are still being felt, especially for Cecily McMillan. The protester was found guilty of striking a police office yesterday without provocation, though McMillan's camp maintains that she elbowed him in self-defense, after he grabbed her right breast.

According to the Guardian's Molly Knefel, this is what happened, according to both sides:

When the police moved in to the park that night, in formation and with batons, to arrest a massive number of nonviolent protesters, the chaos was terrifying. Bovell claimed that McMillan elbowed him in the face as he attempted to arrest her, and McMillan and her defense team claim that Bovell grabbed her right breast from behind, causing her to instinctively react.

The evidence of this assault, as shown below, is quite graphic:

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Slate's Amanda Marcotte characterized what McMillan did as "reacting instinctively to stop what she felt was a sexual assault." She also describes prosecutor Eva Choi's successful attempts to discredit McMillan as "sounding like the defense attorney for an accused sexual assailant instead of a prosecutor." The Guardian also points out how during the trial, the prosecution and jury ignored suspect testimony of NYPD police officer Grantley Bovell, who kept pointing to the wrong eye when he alleged that McMillan struck him without provocation. The presiding judge also ruled testimony about general police brutality at Zuccotti Park and of Bovell's prior violent history as inadmissable.

McMillan and her supporters are raising questions as to how this ruling shows widespread acceptance of NYPD brutality in the court of law. This also raises questions of how judicial officers use the same language reserved for discrediting sexual assault survivors to not only ruin the life of a female political protestor, but to also suppress the movement she represents.

McMillan has been denied bail and will be held at Rikers Island prison in the meantime. Her conviction carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.