Following the outrageous verdict in the trial of Cecily McMillan, one of the prevailing feelings among those of us who couldn’t believe that McMillan was found guilty was one of futility. There had been a massive miscarriage of justice, and now the threat of up to seven years in jail now hung over a young woman who had substantial evidence that she’d suffered abuse from the policeman whose eye she struck with her elbow. The majority of members of the jury which had just found McMillan guilty were now claiming that they didn’t understand that a guilty verdict in a felony case could lead to jail time. The entire situation felt—and feels—surreal and outrageous. What could be done? How could the voices of Cecily’s defenders be heard?
Almost immediately after the verdict was reached, writers and others who had been following the trial began showing their support for Cecily McMillan by taking to social media and to the Internet and other outlets in order to let as many people as possible know just how badly our justice system failed not only Cecily, but all of us. This is, after all, a horrifying case not because it is unique, but because injustices like this happen all the time—we just don’t always hear about them. But because this kind of thing needs to be talked about, and word needs to be spread, editors Sarah Leonard (The Nation), Jacob Stevens (Verso), Stephen Squibb, and Dayna Tortorici (n+1), produced the gazette Free Cecily!, aggregating the best writing about the McMillan case and verdict, as well as essays about “the nationwide trend of suppressing protest, the NYPD’s ongoing assault on communities of color, the justice system’s failure to investigate wrongdoing by the police, and the disturbing tendency of well-meaning people to disbelieve women’s testimony in cases of sexual assault.” It’s an essential piece of reading for anyone who cares about the McMillan trial, the systemic problems within our justice system, and the fight for a more equitable society. Which, really, that should be all of us. As the editors of this gazette point out, and Sarah Jaffe wrote in a piece excerpted in the gazette “‘Cecily McMillan’s case can’t just be about her,’ and it isn’t.”
Download the gazette and find out more information here: nplusonemag.com
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen