Today, Occupy Wall Street activist and elbow-haver Cecily McMillan was sentenced for the crime of, well, defending herself against police brutality. Oh, what a world.
Via Gawker, we learned that despite potentially facing up to seven years in prison after being found guilty of felony assault, McMillan (perhaps in part due to a letter written by many jurors on her case, which pleaded the judge to show leniency and forgo jail time), the 25-year-old woman was sentenced to 90 days at Rikers as well as 5 years of probation. While this is certainly a better situation than the projected seven years (or McMillan’s lawyers guess of two years) in prison, the fact that McMillan is serving time in jail at all is nothing less than an indictment against our justice system, which routinely seeks to silence those who seek to shine a light on the corruption inherent within it. 90 days at Rikers is 90 days too long for McMillan, who will also spend the rest of her life marked as a felon (and, as McMillan told the Village Voice, as someone who is “non-violent to [her] core,” the fact that she’s been labeled a “violent offender” is “intolerable”), which can affect everything from her ability to get a job to buying a home.
The fight for justice for Cecily is not over, of course, nor is the fight against police brutality in general. It is all the more essential to fight against the system’s abuses, especially in light of what happened to McMillan. The fact that a young woman with no history of violence and photographic evidence of being sexually assaulted could be found guilty of attacking a police officer for reasons other than self defense should give us all pause and inspire us to take action. McMillan’s case is just one of many injustices that permeate this system, and our collective outrage can best be utilized by organizing and carrying on the fight against injustice and brutality. When asked if all these repercussions were worth her initial Occupy stance, McMillan said in a recent interview with Mashable, “I feel like your dignity is the only thing that is worth it. I think that the value is in the morals that you set up for yourself are the only things that can’t be taken away—I think they’re the only thing that nobody can take away.”
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