Last week, 25-year-old Cecily McMillan became one of the only Occupy Wall Street protestors to face serious jail time when a jury convicted her of assaulting a police officer. Her conviction has sparked outrage amongst progressives because McMillan alleges she involuntarily elbowed NYPD officer Grantley Bovell after he grabbed her breast, and because the judge refused to admit as evidence in the trial certain accusations of police brutality against Bovell and other cops the night of the incident. Assaulting an officer, a felony offense, carries a sentence of between two and seven years' prison time.
"What kind of activist would I be if I wouldn't go to jail?" said McMillan.
McMillan is currently locked up in Rikers Island jail in New York City, awaiting her sentencing on Monday. Though the judge, Ronald Zweibel, could end up giving her a sentence as mild as a stint of community service, when I chatted with her Friday in a sterile cement room at Rikers, she seemed prepared to do serious time. She was wearing prison-issued Velcro sneakers, her own hipster-ish long johns, and horn-rimmed glasses. "I've had two years to think about [the] decision" to go to trial instead of accept a plea deal, the 25 year-old said, surprisingly upbeat. "What kind of activist would I be if I wouldn't go to jail?"