It may not be the quite the sentence that her supporters were rooting for, but the saga of Cecily McMillan is closer to a close, after the young woman who was accused of assaulting a police office during an Occupy Wall Street protest has learned what her punishment will be.
Cecily McMillan has received a sentence of 90 days in prison, followed by 5 years probation, a result of her arrest in 2012 in Zuccotti Park where she elbowed an officer in the face, which McMillan claimed was unintentional and a reaction to his grabbing her breast from behind. The charges against McMillan came with a potential seven years maximum sentence, making the much less severe punishment somewhat of a relief, likely even to the jurors on her own trial, many of whom believed she should get only probation.
McMillan’s support team, however, says that there is no justice in any sentence, since McMillan was simply defending herself. “Today, Cecily McMillan was sentenced to 90 days in prison for being sexually assaulted by a police officer at a protest, and then responding to that violence by defending herself,” they said in a statement. “We all know that Cecily did not receive a fair trial and this case will be fought in the Court of Appeals.”
It was a sentiment that McMillan herself echoed prior to hearing her sentence. “Whether personal or political, violence is not permitted. This being a law that I live by, I can say with certainty that I am innocent of the crime I have been convicted of,” McMillan said, according to Huffington Post. “I cannot confess to a crime that I did not commit. I cannot throw away my dignity in return for my freedom.”
McMillan’s legal team has already filed a motion to attempt to remove the felony from her record, and it is sounding increasingly likely that an appeal will be filed as well. Although the jury reached a unanimous verdict during the trial, after researching exactly what McMillan could be charged with — the possible 7 year sentence and the permanent felony designation on her record – 9 of the 12 jurors wrote a letter to the judge asking him to consider leniency.
“We the jury petition the court for leniency in the sentencing of Cecily McMillan,” it read. “We would ask the court to consider probation with community service…We feel that the felony mark on Cecily’s record is punishment enough for this case and that it serves no purpose to Cecily or to society to incarcerate her for any amount of time.”
The judge, however, determined that McMillan needed to have at least some jail time “to send the message that assaults on police officers would not be tolerated,” according to the New York Times. He also mandated that McMillan undergo a mental health exam as part of her sentence.
McMillan has already served 2 weeks in Riker’s Island, which will be put towards her 90 day sentence. She also has the possibility of an early release for good behavior.
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