On a chaotic March night two years ago, in the midst of one of Occupy Wall Street’s last large-scale demonstrations, a police officer did or did not grab Cecily McMillan’s breast. Two years later, in a much-discussed, hotly-contested trial that centered around a blurry five-second YouTube clip, McMillan has been found guilty of assault on a police officer. But has justice been served?
McMillan says she was at a six-month anniversary celebration at Zuccotti Park for only a few moments, intending to find a friend in the crowd and get out. But while she was there, the NYPD began clearing the park of demonstrators. Chaos reigned. McMillan says her only clear memories from the night are being grabbed from behind by her right breast, then flung forward on her face. Her next clear memory is from hours later, when she awoke handcuffed to a hospital bed and was told she was under arrest.
NYPD officer Grantley Bovell remembers the night differently. He says McMillan deliberately elbowed him in the eye while shouting at someone in the crowd, “Are you filming this?” He saw stars, suffered a black eye, and missed two weeks of work.
Far from clarifying the events of that night, the trial only served to obscure them further. The guilty verdict has inflamed the city’s progressive activists, who say it’s the work of a heavy-handed DA and a biased judge. But the prosecution in her case argued McMillan was drunk, violent, and got the trial she deserved. Who’s right?