Cecily McMillan

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Cecily McMillan

Cecily McMillan (born 1989) is an American Occupy Wall Street activist and advocate for prisoner rights in the United States. In March 2012, she was arrested as protesters tried to re-occupy Zuccotti Park. She was convicted of assaulting a New York City Police officer and sentenced to 90 days in prison and probation for a subsequent five years.[1] She was released in July 2014 after serving 58 days at Rikers Island.[2]


McMillan was raised by her single mother in Beaumont, Texas and spent summers in Atlanta, Georgia with her father.[3][4]

McMillan is a graduate of Lawrence University where she participated in the 2011 Wisconsin protests. She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and was a graduate student at the New School for Social Research.[5][6]

She presently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. [7]

Cecily now does an "Occupy Update" biweekly on The Ignorance Equation podcast where she gives regular updates on current activist gatherings and events, as well as ideas for social change.[8]


McMillan attended an Occupy Wall Street protest on March 17, 2012 at Zuccotti Park, where she was arrested. McMillan wrote about the incident:

As I remember it, the officer surprised me from behind, grabbing my right breast so forcefully, he lifted me off the ground. In that moment, my elbow met his face... I remember someone pushing me to the ground, my face hitting a grate. Next thing I knew, I was strapped to a gurney, my skirt up above my hips. I had bruises across my body and a handprint on my chest. Officers were joking about my "Ocupussy". I learned later that I had been beaten on the head, triggering a seizure. Videos posted online showed people shouting "Help her!" amid the seizure while the cops stood by. The first time I saw those videos, I watched in horror — I couldn't believe that I was the person going through that ordeal.[9]


The trial was held at the New York City Criminal Court and McMillan was defended by Martin Stolar, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild.[10][11] Her supporters argued that she was defending herself from sexual assault by the officer she was convicted of assaulting; McMillan alleged that a bruise on her breast, shown in photographs at trial, was inflicted by Officer Bovell. Prosecutors argued that Bovell did not cause the injury, and noted that McMillan did not report the alleged assault at either of two hospitals where she received treatment the night of the arrest.[12]

The Guardian reported that nine of the twelve jurors who found McMillan guilty wrote to the trial judge expressing their opinion that she not be given a prison sentence, although the letter only contained the name of one juror and was not signed by any others.[13][14]


Upon conviction, McMillan was denied bail, and served her sentence at Rikers Island Penitentiary. On May 9, members of the Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot, who were jailed in Russia for performances critical of President Vladimir Putin, visited McMillan on Rikers Island as part of a campaign by The Voice Project petitioning for leniency.[15][16] Upon her July 2, 2014 release, she spoke to reporters about the deplorable conditions in the prison, including the death of another inmate.[17] She wrote more fully of the conditions of her imprisonment later for Cosmopolitan.[9]


  1. ^ "Despite Calls for Release, Activist in Occupy Case Gets Three Months". The New York Times. May 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ Cecily McMillan, Occupy Wall Street Activist, Exits Rikers Island Fighting For Prisoner Rights. CBS News. July 2, 2014.
  3. ^ McMillan, Cecily (August 12, 2014) "I Went From Grad School to Prison", Cosmopolitan.com; retrieved August 29, 2014.
  4. ^ McMillan profile, wagingnonviolence.org, September 2014; accessed November 8, 2014.
  5. ^ "The Outrageous Trial of Cecily Mcmillan". The Nation. 
  6. ^ The Release of Cecily McMillan, Democratic Socialists of America, dsausa.org, July 4, 2014.
  7. ^ Cecily McMillan - Moved to Atlanta, Georgia,(December 1, 2014), Facebook "Life Event" message; retrieved January 9, 2015
  8. ^ [1]The Ignorance Equation
  9. ^ a b McMillan, Cecily "I Went From Grad School to Prison", Cosmopolitan.com, August 12, 2014; retrieved August 29, 2014.
  10. ^ Mckinley, James C. "Woman Found Guilty of Assaulting Officer at an Occupy Wall Street Protest Jurors convicted Cecily of a felony charge on May 5, 2014", New York Times, May 5, 2014.
  11. ^ Merlan, Anna. "Occupy Wall Street Activist Cecily McMillan Found Guilty of Assault on Police Officer", Village Voice, May 5, 2014; accessed November 8, 2014.
  12. ^ Amy Goodman and Aaron Mate, Occupy Wall Street on Trial Convicted of Assaulting Cop, Faces Up to Seven Years", truth-out.org; accessed November 8, 2014.
  13. ^ "Cecily McMillan jurors tell judge Occupy activist should not go to jail". The Guardian. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Cecily Mcmillan Jury", HuffingtonPost.com, May 8, 2014; accessed November 8, 2014.
  15. ^ John Swane, "Pussy Riot members visit Occupy activist Cecily McMillan in prison", TheGuardian.com, May 9, 2014; accessed November 8, 2014.
  16. ^ "Campaign: Cecily McMillan", VoiceProject.org, May 2014; accessed November 8, 2014.
  17. ^ Occupy Wall Street Activist Cecily McMillan Released, Brings Messages from Women Held at Rikers Jail. Democracy Now! July 2, 2014; accessed November 8, 2014.

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